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Pastor Calls For Compassion For Accused Killer, Wife

June 4, 1989 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The pastor of a suburban church called for compassion Sunday for Robert and Delores Clark as Clark faces charges that he murdered members of his family 18 years ago in New Jersey.

″We pray that falsehood and sensationalism will be replaced with truth and compassion,″ the Rev. Joseph M. Vought of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior told the 80 people attending services Sunday morning.

FBI agents arrested ″Clark″ on Thursday and charged him with fleeing to avoid prosecution. Agents said fingerprints showed that Clark is really John E. List, accused of slaying his mother, his first wife, and their three children on Nov. 9, 1971, in Westfield, N.J. The bodies were found about a month later.

The arrest followed a tip resulting from the Fox Broadcasting Co. ″America’s Most Wanted″ program May 21 that dramatized the slayings.

Vought preached about the tragedy of the death of a child and referred to a biblical passage about Jesus raising a dead child from death. He said he knew many people were thinking, ″If God heals broken people, why not Bob and Delores?″

Mrs. Clark did not attend the service in the church in Chesterfield County. Police had said she was unaware of her husband’s past but cooperated with investigators. She has been in seclusion, but told a newspaper last week that she hoped ″somehow that this is not true″ and that ″somehow God will see us through this.″

Members of the congregation were reluctant to talk about the man they knew as Robert P. Clark.

″It’s a close-knit congregation,″ said Victor Caudle, who said he was a newcomer to the church and had not known the couple.

Clark waived a bond hearing scheduled for Monday and remained in the Henrico County jail Sunday. Another hearing is scheduled Thursday in federal court in Richmond.