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Sixth Body Unearthed at Murder Site

June 19, 1985|LOUIS SAHAGUN and MARK A. STEIN | Times Staff Writers

SAN ANDREAS, Calif. — Authorities unearthed another decomposing body Tuesday near a remote Calaveras County cabin used by suspected mass murderer Leonard T. Lake.

Officials here described the torso only as that of an adult, but an FBI official in San Francisco tentatively identified the body as the remains Charles D. Gunnar, 36, of Morgan Hill. The body was found under two feet of dirt.

Calaveras County authorities said there was no evidence of a bullet wound, as there had been in one of the five skeletal remains found earlier.

Gunnar, a former postman and drama coach from Morgan Hill, met Lake when the two served together in the Marine Corps and was the best man at Lake's 1981 wedding to Claralyn (Cricket) Balazs. Lake and Balazs later divorced. Lake adopted Gunnar's identity when he moved to his ex-wife's cabin near Wilseyville.

The grim find raised to six the number of bodies found on the 2 1/2-acre parcel, Calaveras County sheriff's spokesman Jim Stenquist said.

Over the last 12 days, authorities combing the heavily wooded area have recovered the bodies of two black males, two females and a child. In addition, about 20 pounds of human bones have been picked up at the site, accounting for at least three more bodies, authorities have said.

Stenquist said a tip provided by 15-year-old Scott Mosher led to the latest discovery. Mosher worked for Lake at the cabin site, digging trenches that he has pointed out to investigators.

The latest finding delayed plans to dismantle a cinder-block bunker on the property, where Lake is believed to have tortured and killed as many as 19 people, authorities said. The bunker lies above a six-foot hole that may contain additional evidence, according to Stenquist.

Lake, 39, died after apparently committing suicide by taking poison, following his June 2 arrest in South San Francisco in connection with the theft of a vise from a lumberyard.

His suspected accomplice, Charles Ng, 24, fled the lumberyard and is the object of an international manhunt involving the FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Listed as Missing

Since Lake's death, he and Ng have reportedly been linked to the disappearance of at least 19 people, according to state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp. None of the 19 listed as missing is black, however, although two of the bodies recovered so far are described as black males.

Investigators are seeking to identify photos of 21 women, many in the nude, found on the walls of the bunker.

However, state Department of Justice spokeswoman Kati Corsault said authorities have contacted two women whose photographs were found in a photo album at the cabin site.

Corsault said authorities used information in letters addressed to "one of Lake's aliases" to locate the women. She refused to release their identities.

In addition, Corsault said Justice Department officials failed to turn up new leads in the case, after examining the contents of computer data disks found at the cabin retreat, located about 150 miles east of San Francisco.

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