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Melissa Huckaby Charged in Sandra Cantu Death

Posted by shadmia on April 16, 2009

Sandra Cantu-2Sandra CantuSandra Cantu 3

Melissa Huckaby, 28, of Tracy, Ca., a Sunday school teacher and mother of a 5-year-old girl has been charged with murder. She is accused of the gruesome killing of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, her daughter’s playmate. She made her first appearance in San Joaquin County court where the charges against her were made public.

Melissa Huckaby

Melissa Huckaby is charged with one count of murder with the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14 and murder in the course of a kidnapping. She could be eligible for the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

It all began when Sandra Cantu was reported missing from her home on March 27, 2009. She was last seen heading to Huckaby’s house to play with Huckaby’s 5-year-old daughter, just 5 houses down the road. When she did not return home, a massive search party was organized with volunteers searching through a landfill, rivers, homes and fields all over the Tracy area where Sandra lived.

Posters of the little girl were widely distributed throughout northern California and a reward of $26,000 was offered for information leading to Sandra’s whereabouts. Many people were questioned by the police including Sandra’s father who lives in Mexico and a 60-year-old man who admitted he kissed Sandra on the lips two years ago.

The search for Sandra Cantu came to a tragic end on April 6, when a suitcase was found by farm workers who were draining a pond to water a field at a dairy farm about two miles away from her home. Inside the suitcase police discovered the remains of the 8-year-old little girl.

Further investigations led the police to zero in on Melissa Huckaby. She was booked on suspicion of murder and kidnapping early Saturday morning, April 11, 2009, after a five-hour interview with Tracy police, during which she wept and indicated that she deliberately killed Sandra Cantu on March 27. Police offered no motive for the murder.

“Finding out, one, that it’s a woman, and that it was a member of the community was one blow,” said Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman, referring to the suspect. “But then finding out it was someone the family knew was a double blow. This case has been hard on everyone. The fact that there’s been an arrest will never reverse what happened. There is no joy in this.”

Melissa Huckaby lives in a mobile home with her 5-year-old daughter and grandparents, Lane and Connie Lawless. Investigators spent several days searching that home and the nearby Clover Road Baptist Church where Lane Lawless, 77, is a pastor.

Huckaby had been in trouble with the law before. She pleaded no contest in January to a burglary charge in San Joaquin County and has a 2006 theft conviction in Los Angeles County.

What is so shocking about this case is that women are rarely sexual predators – only about 5 percent to 15 percent, according to experts – and when they do molest children, they are more often accomplices.

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One Response to “Melissa Huckaby Charged in Sandra Cantu Death”

  1. Janis said

    Our children are not safe anywhere. Whether you live in the inner city or out in a trailer park, there are sick people everywhere and you have to have eyes out the back of your head to keep watch over your kids. It’s sick.

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