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Apr-12-2009 00:45printcommentsVideo

Tracy Sunday School Teacher Arrested in Murder of Sandra Cantu

Police confirmed that it's unusual for the suspect in a crime like this to be a woman, statistically.

Sandra Cantu~R.I.P.
Sandra Cantu~R.I.P.

(SALEM, Ore.) - The suspect in the disappearance and Murder of eight-year old Sandra Cantu in Tracy, California is a Sunday school teacher who lives in the same mobile park, and whose daughter had played with Sandra before.

Police say 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby was arrested just before midnight Friday on charges of Kidnapping and Murder.

Huckaby drove herself to the police department and was arrested after questioning. She had told reporters just prior to the arrest in a phone call, that Sandra's body was found in a suitcase she owned, that had been stolen from her front yard. It was recovered in a nearby irrigation pond.

Huckaby appeared to offer gestures to TV cameras as she drove to her ultimate appointment with a jail cell. She didn't appear to be in any kind of a friendly mood.

Tracy Police Sgt. Tony Sheneman told reporters Saturday, that Huckaby began the conversation with investigators, adding that, "She was calm, cool and collected, then she became very emotional .... She went back and forth from being calm to emotional" and later she became "resigned."

Melissa Huchaby, suspect in Sandra
Cantu's Murder in Tracy, California.

KTLA reported Sheneman saying that it was the inconsistency in Huckaby's story, that led to her arrest. "I couldn't begin to even theorize what her motive was," he said.

The Murder suspect's grandfather is the pastor at Clover Road Baptist Church. It's the same place Melissa Huckaby taught Sunday school.

Sheneman confirmed that it's unusual for the suspect in a crime like this to be a woman, statistically.

"This was an anomaly in the murder of a child," Sheneman said.

According to police, Sandra was probably already dead before she was reported missing. Her aunt, Angie Chavez, confirmed that Sandra was a close friend of Huckaby's daughter, and a regular visitor at her home. It had been reported that she visited the five-year old the day she disappeared, only Huckaby told police initially that she told Sandra her daughter couldn't play and sent her on her way.

Huckaby remains in custody on suicide watch, and she's being held without bail. Her arraignment is set for Tuesday.

This video clip from a surveillance video from Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park showing Sandra's last recorded steps should serve as a reminder to all of us that every step we can take to help avoid a similar tragedy should be taken seriously and out kids watched with great care. Predators can be sneaky, talk to your child or children, and teach them everything they need to know to stay safe.


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666pt April 14, 2009 1:29 pm (Pacific time)

My friend used to work at a coffee shop out there. And on multiple occasions has come across Huchaby. Not to mention she looks like someone ive seen before as well.

Anonymous April 12, 2009 10:01 am (Pacific time)

But its all men!

Pearl April 12, 2009 7:17 am (Pacific time)

I wonder if she felt her child was being bullied. Absolutely no reason for murder - especially of a child. Just speculating as to what might have been going on in this woman's mind. There's a 3-year age difference between the kids.

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