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Why Would a Mother Kill Sandra Cantu?

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Over the weekend, Melissa Huckaby was charged with kidnapping and murder in the death of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. Why?

sandra cantu and killer melissa huckaby

Melissa Huckaby and her 5-year-old daughter Madison live in the same mobile home park as Sandra Cantu's family. Huckaby is the pastor's granddaughter, and she taught Sunday school at the church. By all accounts, Melissa's daughter and Sandra were close friends, and played together frequently.

Then Sandra went missing. Her body was found last Monday, stuffed into a suitcase and submerged in a pond.

Police say that suitcase belongs to Melissa Huckaby. She had originally said the suitcase was hers, but that it had been stolen. She had also said that Sandra had come to her house the day she went missing, but Huckaby would not allow her daughter to play because she wanted her daughter to pick up her toys. Inconsistencies in her stories led to her arrest. She was arrested late Friday, and faces kidnapping and murder charges.

Police say they don't have a motive ... yet. CBS News reported Sunday that police believe Sandra was killed in the church.

A family member of Melissa's spoke to CNN. "We're very shocked," she said. "It's very out of character for Melissa. We love her dearly. She's a fantastic mother, very loving. ... This is a very difficult time for us and it's very difficult to express to you right now how we're feeling."

Huckaby was raised in Orange County and graduated from Brea Olinda High School in 1999, according to the Contra Costa Times. She moved to Tracy seven or eight months ago to help her grandparents, then decided to stay and enroll her daughter in kindergarten, family members said. Her father said Huckaby's only known emotional issues stem from a divorce.

According to the FBI, it's statistically unusual for a woman to be involved in anything like this. When asked what people should learn from the fact that a woman is suspected in the slaying, Tracy police spokesman Sgt. Tony Sheneman said, "You have to be 100 percent aware of who your children are talking to."

Why do you think Melissa Huckaby might have killed Sandra Cantu?

See Also:

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109 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ann April 13, 2009, 1:09 PM

Clearly substance abuse played a dominant role in Melissa Huckaby’s life.(As stated by Melissa’s criminal record). She even has a criminal record for theft,and drugging a child.She has repeated lied to detectives and others.The Grandparents claim she is a loving Mother. All these facts about Melissa are chillingly familiar to Casey Anthony’s.(Drug abuse,drugging children,compulsivly lying,stealing and family stating they were such loving Mothers! Not again! Now there are 2 narcissistic sociapathic Mothers that murdered innocent children.What is happening to the moral fabric of our families, that daughters are turning out to be evil murderers?!!

Where's the Coverage? Anon April 13, 2009, 1:11 PM

From what I understand, as there has been suprising little coverage since Huckabee was arrested, Hucks was mentally unstable, facing some sort of petty theft charges, had recently been fired from a cashier job, and was living with her Grandparents in a Trailer Park Community for undisclosed reasons, though I’ll accept the ‘helping out’ explanation given above. Sure paints the picture of a woman’s life unraveling doesn’t it? And along comes Sandra, in and out of the Grandparents Trailor to play with Hucks daughter. Seems to me Hucks was in no shape to supervise herself let alone her own daughter, Sandra, and a Sunday School Class to Boot! It was a meltdown waiting to happen, unless someone has read or watched better coverage than I have.

Miss Behavin April 13, 2009, 1:11 PM

Who the hell really knows what goes through the minds of women who kill. She is not the first, and unfortunately, will not be the last. I’d like to know her motive as would millions of others but we will probably never know what happened that day. Sad!

ewok April 13, 2009, 1:28 PM

This makes me sick to my stomach. My daughter will not be allowed to spend the night at her friends’ houses. She will not like it, but so be it.
This sadistic woman killed in the church, stuffed this innocent little girl in a suitcase,and threw her in a pond.

joe April 13, 2009, 1:59 PM

Why won’t they release the way she was killed. Was she choked? Did the crazy Huck drown her in the baptismal tub?

jade April 13, 2009, 2:02 PM

Maybe she was jealous because Sandra was so much prettier than her or her own daughter?

Pamala April 13, 2009, 2:06 PM

Because one woman killed one child now your child “ewok” won’t be able to go to sleep overs? Do you understand how statistically unlikely this kind of killing is to happen to your child. I feel bad for kids today not being allowed the same pleasures we had as children. It is no more dangerous (actually it’s less dangerous) to be a kid today than it was for us when we were children and you sure didn’t see our parents being overprotective and down right paranoid.

RosieCee April 13, 2009, 2:20 PM

One newspape article said Melissa Huckaby was depressed.

Tragically, she was probably taking an antidepressant or withdrawing from an antidepressant.. Since the intoduction of Prozac in 1988, there has been a massive number of people taking antidepressants and the number of murder-suicides and school shootings has increased.

The Physicians Desk Reference states that SSRIs and all antidepressants can cause mania, psychosis, abnormal thinking, paranoia, hostility, etc.

Go to where there are over 2,900 cases, with the full media article available, involving bizarre murders, suicides, school shootings [48 of these] and murder-suicides - all of which involve SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc, . The media article usually tells which SSRI antidepressant the perpetrator was taking.

Maria Rosado April 13, 2009, 2:21 PM

To Pamala,

it is with this mentality that today’s mother’s leave their kids (especially girls) wonder around unsupervised. Think before it strikes! It is true the World we live today is down right dangerous but you know what it has always been like this. Evil lurkes everywhere. Forget about giving your kids fairy tale pleasures - it is better to know and have your kids protected at ALL TIMES - even if it’s borderline paranoid like some people think it is but guess what, I rather have my kids alive and safe!!!..stop being so liberal with your kids mom’s! Don’t rely on others to “babysit” your had them, take care of them at ALLLLL times!

DA April 13, 2009, 2:32 PM

She may have had a pschychotic episode where she heard a voice telling her to kill the child. It seems that this is usually the case with women that kill children. Also I think the child was killed in a church. I think she’ll claim that God spoke to her and told her to do it. She is mentally unstable.

Anonymous April 13, 2009, 2:43 PM

mentally unstable or not she should be locked up for life.i can’t even imagine how some one could hurt or kill a child it saddens me that we have to be so overprotective over our kids and dont have the same freedon we had as kids .

SoDakDad April 13, 2009, 2:51 PM

Excellent advice, Maria. I’ve always been skeptical of telling our children (lying to them) that some bearded man named Santa actually comes into our house, or that he’s “watching” to make sure they’re good. I’m not fond of tooth fairies or easter bunnies either. Telling our children the truth doesn’t diminish the joy of childhood. They have wonderful imaginations. /// The current theory in our house is that Sandra stumbled upon her Sunday school teacher pouring poison into her daughter’s sippy cup. /// Poor Sandra no doubt died horribly.

Jonathan April 13, 2009, 2:56 PM

I think the key is not to lock your kids down, but to really know what they are doing and who they are with. She obviously had a history of issues. Why would you let your child around that unsupervised?

VA April 13, 2009, 3:27 PM

Unfortunately, church’s are the perfect place for these hideous people to hide and pretend life is normal. Who would have ever thought that this child, or any child for that fact, would have been murdered by her Sunday School Teacher? How many of you have trusted your children to a Sunday School Teacher before? There is a much bigger issue at hand here, and everywhere else, and that is why are these people not already locked up when it’s easy to see they already have a criminal history? Pedophiles, murderers, child rapists, etc are getting more & more creative in how they can easily get their hands on our life’s most precious gifts, our children. Believe me, my child’s Sunday School Teacher, one of the leader’s of the choir, one who often did and still does give children a ride to church, is a convicted sex offender, and the monster who molested my child. The problem is, he was convicted before Megan’s law, so he’s not registered. The church knows about him, and their response is they’ve had no complaints but they say they watch him carefully. How can they be watching if he’s giving children rides back & forth to church? If I could go back & do it all over again, I agree with ewok; there’s no way I’d ever let one of my children stay the night with anybody, ever, no matter who they were. It’s bad enough that children are snatched from their homes, on the street, at school or from their yards. But church? IMO, if a child isn’t safe in church, they aren’t safe anywhere that I’m not at, period, end of story. I just wish I had known then what I know now :( People need to wake up & come to terms with the fact that these evil creatures are everywhere, and our children just aren’t safe outside of our watchful eyes, and sometimes, even that isn’t enough!!!

Leslie April 13, 2009, 3:40 PM

No matter what reason she gives for killing this child, it won’t be good enough, there is nothing Sandra could have done that would justify this- I think the woman just wanted to kill. There can’t be any reason that will put us at ease or make us understand, I agree with the writer that said there are evil creatures everywhere and I think they feed off of the pain and misery that they cause and the rest of us are left to try to find some kind of answer when there just isn’t any.

Jesus_Chrysler April 13, 2009, 3:44 PM

Actually I’m not aone bit suprised. Religion has been a complete and abject failure as far as improving the moral aspect of our lives. Perhaps it is time to throw of the chains of certainty and self-rightiousness and live our lives for THIS LIFE rather than for an afterlife that will never come. This murder case is but another example of how ineffective and even dangerous that belief in “god” can be.

No Gods…No Masters

SoDakDad April 13, 2009, 3:47 PM

I’m going to have a tee shirt made that says, “Don’t touch my child without my permission!” I’ve been thinking about this for some time. Those words won’t frighten a child who reads my tee shirt as much as something like “If you touch my child, I’ll kill you!” would. I’m trying to think rationally about this. I know that abductions/murders are actually rare, given the size of our population, but as a dad, a hyper-vigilant dad (as a counselor called me, I lose sleep thinking about how to protect my children. I also realize, of course, that if I killed someone who molested etc my child, I would go to jail. What to do?

T April 13, 2009, 3:52 PM

I agree with Jade. Obviously, the woman has problems… I believe she was immature enough to feel threatened by an assertive, pretty 8-year-old. I believe she was jealous of Sandra’s beauty. Of her gorgeous hair, face…Maybe she was angry at her own daughter and took it out on Sandra? Or Sandra was protective of the 5-year-old daughter and she took it as a challenge. She’ll probably be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, no empathy.

Where's the Coverage? Anon, Part 2 April 13, 2009, 4:01 PM

It’s sad, and unfortunately, there are so few effective resources and treatments for the mentally ill and their families, and such a stigma associated with the disease, that cases like these will continue to crop up as long as the Melissa Huckabee’s of this world keep falling through the cracks and their families keep trying to pass them off as normal. And though I hate to blame the Pastor Grandfather and his brood, Melissa shouldn’t have been watching children unsupervised let alone an entire Sunday School class of them when her relatives knew first hand she was going through a ‘rough patch’ as they called it.

erica encinas  April 13, 2009, 4:19 PM

well i think this is too sad and it is a very disturbing case that killer turn out to be a woman.sandra was so beautiful you could tell from the surveilance video and i dont blame the her mother at all she trusted the little girls mother i would trust my daughters friends mother this is a sick crime that didnt have to happen and i would not feel pity at all for mellisa and the mellisas daugther madison will forever be haunted by the fact that her own mother killed her best friend for no reason

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