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."