Suspect's father is torn up, too

'I really ... hate it for her family,' he says

Staff WriterAugust 31, 2006 

Cynthia Moreland has been missing for nine days.

Every morning since Antonio Chance's arrest Aug. 24 on charges of abducting Moreland from a city-owned parking deck in downtown Raleigh, his father wakes and hopes she has been found alive.

"If I had my chance, I would go out there and search for her, too," Chance's father, Lenzie Leach, said Wednesday. "I really, really hate it for her family."

Leach, 59, a truck driver who lives in Garner, said that he's afraid the victim's family wouldn't welcome him in the search, but that all of Chance's relatives empathize with the Morelands.

Chance is the oldest of four children. Although he lists his father's yellow wood-frame home with green trim as his address, Leach said his son has not lived with him for seven or eight years.

Father and son drifted apart when Chance, now 29, became an adult. "The last time I saw him was three or four months ago," Leach said.

Leach said he found out about his son's arrest when he got home from work. When he walked up the steps to his house, he found a note from a friend on the door.

"The note said he had been arrested and to get in contact with my daughter," Leach said.

Leach said he had been keeping up with Moreland's disappearance through the news and was shocked when he learned his son might have been involved.

"He ain't all bad," Leach said. "I am wracking my brain just like everybody else."

Leach described his son as an easygoing, mannerly person who got caught with the wrong crowd at an early age.

"I told him from day one, don't ever get into serious trouble, because the first time something happens, they are going to point the finger at you," Leach said.

Despite his father's advice, Chance was convicted in 1994 of sexually assaulting and robbing a 32-year-old man in Fuquay-Varina. Chance was 16.

Leach said his friends have told him not to fault himself, that his son is a grown man and knows right from wrong.

"It still bothers me," he said.

(News researcher Lamara Williams-Hackett contributed to this report.)

Staff writer Thomasi McDonald can be reached at 829-4533 or tmcdonal@newsobserver.com.

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