Home Searched in Probe of Killings : Three Agencies Seize Items From Ex-Wife of Suspect Lake

Times Staff Writer

Three police agencies have jointly searched the home of Claralyn (Cricket) Balazs and her parents, seizing a car, a truck and six bags of evidence tied to Balazs’ ex-husband, suspected mass murderer Leonard T. Lake, police said.

However, Deputy Chief Joseph Lordan of the San Francisco Police Department, one of the participating agencies, stressed that Balazs still is not a suspect in the case, although she has stopped cooperating with police in the probe and reportedly has left the area.

Lake, 39, apparently committed suicide after being arrested during a minor shoplifting incident June 2 in South San Francisco. A suspected accomplice in the murders, Charles C. Ng, 24, is the subject of an international manhunt.

The two men have been tied to the disappearance of at least 19 people. Six bodies and more than 20 pounds of human bones have been unearthed at a remote Calaveras County cabin owned by the Balazs family and used by Lake.


No Gun Found

Lordan declined Friday to say what was seized at the Balazs’ modest South San Francisco home. But he did say that investigators from his department, the South San Francisco Police Department and Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department did not find a .22-caliber gun they were looking for.

Attorneys representing Balazs and her 71-year-old parents, Louis and Grace Ladine Balazs, criticized the search as a “fishing expedition” intended to harass their clients as much as to find evidence in the case.

One of the lawyers, Stanley H. Rozanski, based the charge on a belief that the warrant served Thursday afternoon on Louis Balazs did not list a gun as among the items being sought.

Instead, he said, it listed such things as a 1985 calendar; a number of “sex novelties,” including shackles and chains; personal letters from Lake; rent and utility bills; photographs; blood stains, and the two family cars.

Despite Lordan’s assurances to the contrary, Rozanski said he believes Claralyn Balazs is considered a suspect by police. Balazs has said she will no longer cooperate with authorities unless they grant her immunity from prosecution, which so far has not been done.

“Leonard Lake is dead, as everyone knows, and Ng is nowhere to be found,” Rozanski said. “There is no suspect, so they are trying to create a suspect.”

‘A Definite Link’


Lordan disagreed. “She is the one person we have who has a definite link to everyone (in the case),” he said. “We are not picking on her.”

Lordan added that the two vehicles taken during the search--a 1968 Chevrolet pickup truck and a 1982 Dodge station wagon--will be returned to Louis Balazs “as soon as (they) are processed.”

Louis Balazs, who reportedly suffers from pulmonary and coronary illness, has complained that he needs at least one car in case of a medical emergency.

Lordan declined to discuss what police were looking for in the vehicles, but he did say Lake and Ng both are believed to have used the vehicle in the past.


Meanwhile, in Calaveras County on Friday, state Department of Justice spokeswoman Kati Corsaut said authorities have now contacted five of the women whose photos have been found in 18 photo albums and on walls at the Lake compound, and have found them alive and well. Authorities earlier had feared they might be among the victims.

Five of the 18 albums, Corsaut said, contain photos of a single woman. The other 13 albums “had a lot of different people in them,” she said.