Independence, Missouri - Jackson County sheriff's deputies are expected to return to the home of Lloyd Sartain, pastor of New Covenant Faith Church in Independence, Mo. Police arrested Sartain on a federal firearms violation during a raid at the church Monday night. He was later released without being charged. Police are now asking for the public's help in the ongoing investigation.
"This whole thing baffles my client, it baffles me," said John Carnes, Sartain's attorney. "I don't know what's going on with the county sheriff in Jackson County."
Police said they have been investigating Sartain for more than a year, and that during Monday night's raid, firearms and money were discovered in the church.
A judge on Tuesday sealed the search warrant in the case, and investigators won't elaborate on their investigation. But they are asking for the public to help in the investigation.
"We are looking for anyone that might have information over the past 20 year of activity surrounding this church, even going back, say, 30 years," said Cpl. Kenney. "Any activity they feel is questionable actions of church."
The raid and investigation caught many in the community off-guard.
"It was a big surprise," said Linda Richards, who attends a neighboring church and had only good things to say about Sartain. "The whole church came over to our revival," she said. "They were just visiting basically, but they ended up staying for the whole revival. They were really, really nice people. I wouldn't have anything bad to say about them at all."
Not all people familiar with Sartain speak as highly of the minister as Richard. According to Lindsay Schaeffle, who left the church with her mom and younger brother four years ago, the church acted more like a cult, and said that they could no longer tolerate what she called emotional and physical abuse.
"This has been how many years he's been living a lie, hiding behind God to bring people in and take their money and use them for whatever he needs," said Schaeffle, who says that investigators have hit just the tip of the iceberg.
"The way it was like a cult and the way he did control everybody, and he wasn't a great guy, and if he had guns, you know something's not right," said Schaeffle. "What kind of pastor needs to have guns and a pile of cash?"
Schaeffle said the church and Sartain held control over every aspect of their lives.
"You didn't do anything there without his permission, whether it came to going and getting a cell phone or anything like that," said Schaeffle. "I had to ask him."
The day before police raided the church Sartain was in jail, but posted a $5,000 cash-only bond in Jackson County where he was being held on a child support case. In 2007, Sartain was charged with DUI and driving without a license. In 2003, he was charged with assaulting an adult.
Sartain will not be allowed to return home until authorities have finished removing evidence from the property on Wednesday.