Police Search Church in Death of Calif. Girl, 8, Whose Body Was Found in Suitcase

Police searched a church and continued to question neighbors Tuesday in Tracy, Calif., as part of the investigation into the death of an 8-year-old girl who disappeared from her mobile home and was found dead in a suitcase dumped into a nearby pond.

Clover Road Baptist Church was searched for clues to unravel the mystery of little Sandra Cantu's death.

Sgt. Tony Sheneman said other warrants in the case are sealed and that he would not answer questions about them in a press conference Tuesday evening. He also denied media reports that the church's pastor, Lane Lawless, was a suspect in the girl's death. Police have not named any suspects in the case.

An autopsy is underway, and Sheneman told reporters he did not know when police would have results.

Police also searched a location Monday night at the mobile home park where Sandra lived and was last seen March 27, he said.

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Sheneman would not say why the church was searched and did not give details if anything was found at the park.

Pastor Lawless was stopped by reporters Tuesday as he drove by Clover Road Baptist Church with his wife, Connie.

He said he was questioned by police for three hours Monday night.

Connie Lawless said they were being interviewed because they live down the street from the victim, Sandra Cantu, and their great granddaughter played with her.

Connie Lawless said they were fully cooperating with police, and that investigators took phones and a computer, among other items, from their home.

"We're very open to them taking whatever they want," she said. "We feel the more people they can eliminate, the quicker they will be able to get to the truth."

Connie Lawless said they had nothing to do with the girl's abduction.

"She was the sweetest little thing. It breaks it our hearts to think that anyone would take such a tiny little thing and abuse her and murder her," she said.

Sandra's body was found in a suitcase discovered Monday by farmworkers draining the pond about two miles from where she lived.

Tracy Police Chief Janet Thiessen announced the discovery of Sandra's body stuffed into the suitcase Monday night.

Thiessen said the 8-year-old was wearing the same clothes she wore when last seen on March 27: a pink "Hello Kitty" T-shirt and black leggings.

"Our heartfelt sympathies go to Sandra's family and friends," she said Monday. "We will determine the person or persons responsible for this reprehensible act, and we will bring them to justice."

Sheneman noted that police have found no link between Lawless and the suitcase.

Sandra's disappearance sparked a massive search effort around Tracy, about 60 miles east of San Francisco, that included hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officials, including the FBI, and more than 1,000 tips.

"This is an unimaginable loss for any parent," Sheneman said.

Investigators surmise that the person who dumped the body in the pond must have known the rural area, just north of the city.

"Someone would have to be familiar with that area to know to go there to place that suitcase," Sheneman said.

Photos of the outgoing girl with dark brown eyes and golden hair were posted all over town, on business fronts, car windows and fire hydrants in the city of about 78,000 people.

Dozens of mourners — some holding candles, others wiping away tears — gathered outside the mobile home park where Sandra's family lives and she was last seen, as police blocked the entrance.

"I am still in shock," said Brandy Robles, 27, who held her 2-year-old son. "You see this in the movies. I never thought it would be real life — real to me."

Click here for more on this story from FOX San Francisco affiliate KTVU.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.