Mike Madriaga 10:05 a.m., March 19
City Heights Pastor Found Dead in Gritty Tijuana Hovel
Did the reverend lead a dark and secret second life, or is it a cover-up for an across-the-border crime?
Unknown address in Tijuana
Reverend Charles Lanier, 51, the pastor of Unity Fellowship Church Movement's San Diego church had been missing since February 15, 2008, and was considered a Missing Person by the San Diego Police Department. An investigation of his disappearance commenced.
There were reports of a bloody t-shirt found and his cell phone being found in Tijuana, Mexico.
His 2007 Black Cadillac CTS was found in a parking lot near the San Ysidro point of entry into Mexico on February 21.
On February 27, his deceased body was found in third-floor a rented apartment near the border in Tijuana. Neighbors saw his body through a partially opened door and called the police. A syringe was found near Lanier's body.
On March 1, the Baja California Attorney General’s Office stated to the press that after an autopsy, it was determined that Lanier had marijuana and heroin in his system. He apparently died of a heroin overdose “that caused the blockage of a pulmonary artery, with heart failure listed as a secondary cause,” according to Dr. Maria Guadalupe Licea, who oversaw the autopsy.
Lanier had an enlarged heart, according to the autopsy findings.
While Tijuana police believe the heroin was self-administered, Lanier’s disappearance has a number of unanswered questions; those who knew him contend this is was out of character.
Lanier, however, was in recovery for past drug addiction.
Still, Lanier's family and friends have indicated to the police it would not be “in character” for him to not let anyone know where he was going and when he would return.
When last seen, Lanier told family members he was going to the grocery store.
A resident of North Park, no one knew of a secondary residence in Tijuana. The apartment is in rough and unsavory neighborhood a mile from the border, known for crime and drugs.
Apparently, according to his Tijuana neighbors, Lanier had an unknown male roommate and paid $200 a month for the apartment.