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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
Cynthia Gee April 13, 2009, 4:26 PM

Has it occurred to anyone that she may be covering up for somebody else? Most molestation-murders are committed by MEN, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Huckaby confessed in order to shield the real murderer.

Dawn Clark April 13, 2009, 4:46 PM

I think the person that said we should live for right now and not an eternity that will never come, and down with God, really, really needs to think about what they are saying. Just think if people truly believed there were no consiquences for their action beyond this world. That they could do anything they wanted in this life and only face jail or death and then nothing…just think how much more evil this world would be. God is the conscious of the world. There is nothing good but God. People are not good. Everything that is good comes from God. I wouldn’t wish my Lord and Saviour our only hope away like you have done.

kathy April 13, 2009, 4:57 PM

I dont want to hear if she was picked up for petty theft or lost her job.. that has been happening to millions of people thru time, and 99% choose not to kill.. there is a right and wrong factor here. she chose to kill this girl , then lie to police, claim someone stole her suitcase etc… yes i agree she was disturbed, depression , bipolar whatever. her actions after the fact clearly show she knew right from wrong. this case saddned me and shocked me that it was a woman and a mother who killed sandra..i will personally let my kids play with neighbor kids. will i watch a alittle closer maybe.. but i wont let my fear stand in the way of my childs growth and childhood journey. i do believe maybe some may learn from this not sure how…she needs to be sentenced to the full extent of the law, she doesnt deserve us anymore then that.i do wish the cantu family and murderers family all the prayers.

Historical Tidbit  April 13, 2009, 5:12 PM

Sound Familiar? Lizzie Borden was a Sunday School Teacher, a member of the Fruit and Flower Mission, and was staunchly defended by her Pastors throughout her arrest and trial!

T April 13, 2009, 5:13 PM

It gets worse… DA is considering charges of rape (w/ a foreign object) & molestation…. Aagghh. Read she had been investigated for drugging & molesting another little girl, 7, before this. Just sick. Who knows what her own child has been through…

golnick April 13, 2009, 5:14 PM

do you think she could be covering for her GRANDFATHER, who might have done this???

Bjones April 13, 2009, 6:33 PM

My theory is that Sandra Cantu came upon Huckabee doing something that she didn’t want anyone to find out about. My guess is that Huckabee was already walking on thin ice with her grandparents. The murder happened to shut up the poor little angel. It’s obvious that she knew Sandra, because in her demented mind she put the little girl in a suitcase and threw her in the water….like a casket. Also, she wanted the body to be found. That’s why she so-called reported her suitcase “missing/stolen” r i g h t. Her story didn’t add up. I think the investigators did a great job in solving this case. Now, the little angel will have justice. Finally, what’s up with the Haleigh Cummings case? maybe the California investigators should go and help the Floridians solve that case!

Amy April 13, 2009, 6:37 PM

The church should be doing background checks on any one who wants to teach, and not allowing those near children who have records. My church is just now starting to do this, for reasons like this one.

nika April 13, 2009, 7:20 PM

Melissa made two public claims so far:

1. that her grandfather had nothing to do with it.


2. that her suitcase was stolen.

we now know she was lying about the suitcase, I think we can assume she is lying about her grandfather as well.

Natalie April 13, 2009, 7:24 PM

My friends tease me because I don’t leave my fourteen year old son and my twelve year old daughter home alone while my husband and I ( all be it, very seldomly) go out together, I will have my oldest daughter, who is married and 24 years old come over and watch them, if I am paranoid, then that is fine with me. Better paranoid, than nieve and neglectful. I can’t replace my children if they come up missing, like i can a night out. I and my husband made the decision to have children and that means sacrificing, anything and EVERYTHING for their well-being, not just when it’s convenient.

Mary April 13, 2009, 7:33 PM

Oh, yes Chrysler…you are such a wise synic, blame Jesus. What does throw off the chains of certainty mean? You are not very prophetic, for s pseudo-atheist. What a fallen Catholic, not everything in life went your way, so it must be God…Grow up, you are not a God nor a master, and it sounds like you need both right now.

AngryMomma April 13, 2009, 8:03 PM

It is because of sick disturbed people like this that I keep a close watch on my child.I am a firm believer of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Meaning that sick, twisted sorry excuse for a woman should get what she deserves. And beleive me, she will in prison!!!!

nika April 13, 2009, 8:13 PM

the more i think about it the more it looks like Melissa is COVERING for Lane — and taking the fall even though she did not do it.

and among a host of other reasons — she is doing so to protect her own daughter who Lane’s wife took away on a “planned vacation” the day after Sandra was killed.

the whole thing w/ the hospital visit w/ internal bleeding — that would make a lot more sense to me if that was the result of learning that her grandfather did this crime, than if she did it herself. If she did it herself i would think that she wanted to - — that it got her off — and then she would be high instead of suicidal.

this would also explain why she drove herself to the police station. and willingly gave statements.

WORLDASHES April 13, 2009, 8:20 PM

â–ºThe more I see and hear the more I want to be away from people. At least I know what to expect from animals. I won’t even take my grandkids to Easter egg hunts because the molestors and sick people hide in these institutions and help out with kids. RELIGION KILLS and here is one more proof of it.

Cakes April 13, 2009, 8:41 PM

I think what happened was Sandra stumbled upon her doing something to her child, maybe physically, saw something she shouldn’t have seen at that moment. Because this “Thing” won’t even call her a human being, sees her and realizes that she was going to be in a lot more trouble then what she was facing already, panics and then lures her to the church (Because Sandra knew her) so she goes along.

Then she kills her, and “Stages” the poor baby girl to make it look like she was molested and that someone else had done it, to throw the investigators off track.

There are some secrets that lie in that house. For her not to ever come out or be sociable, or for her child to play with only Sandra, she has probably been horrible to her own little child too.

These Grandparents know something they aren’t saying anything.

What a shame. I am a mother to 2 beautiful boys. Kids aren’t quiet and share everything with you.

Has her little daughter been questioned about abuse.

It’s insane to this to anyone, let alone a baby.

bucko April 13, 2009, 8:55 PM

From now on my children won’t ever be allowed to be around christians!

KayKay April 13, 2009, 9:56 PM

Um historical tidbit? Lizzie Borden killed adults, and allegedly those adults molested and abused her and she put an end to it. Totally different from this case.

Cheryl April 13, 2009, 10:02 PM

There should be no reason this woman doesn’t get the death penalty. If she had sense enough to dress herself and take care of her personal needs then she knew what she was doing when she executed torture on that poor child. There should be no tolerance when it comes to child abuse of any kind. These people should have to endure what they put those children through till their own death. It is horrifying to imagine. There should be a mandatory death penality automatically when a child dies by an adults hands. But of course then there is the insane plea the justice system allows and then the tax payers get to keep these horrible people up until their own natural deaths- What a world we have!

Akima April 13, 2009, 10:39 PM

Why would she kill? Why would anyone?
Because they are defective human beings. DEFECTIVE. If you murder a child, you should die - no ifs or buts -hanging by the neck in town square kind of die with television coverage and everything. So many crimes are committed against children and the laws need to be changed to allow zero tolerance. If she did kill Sandra, she should die, mentally unstable or not.
Oh, and she’s mentally unstable, or the devil made her do it? Boo hoo, we dont have time or money to spend on you, go talk to someone who cares….say your prayers and may God forgive you for what you did to Sandra, her family, your own daughter, your family and the community. If she is found guilty I have no sympathy for this sub-human monster.

Bill April 13, 2009, 10:45 PM

We can only quess what happened as outsiders to this terrible thing.

But remember people just because Melissa was arrested and they take the worst possible picture to make you look crazy doesn’t mean she did it. We don’t have all the facts, and the police obviously don’t have them either. The FBI said it doesn’t seem right.
How did the little girl die? obviously that is a key item here or everyone would know by now.
I personally don’t think she was capable of doing harm to the little girl intentionally, either it was a physical accident, or accident out of anger (maybe the little girl did something to her daughter that was bad, and she blew a fuze, layed a hand on her or pulled her hard and neck snapped) If so, she did a horrible thing by trying to cover it up and should have been honest about it. or she is just covering for what someone else did? It just looks like someone is taking advantage of her desperate state (single mom, job, child, no child support) perfect person to blame if want to do something sick to a little girl. Grandpa?
maybe they threatened to take Melissas daughter, or harm her if she didn’t cooperate.

The fact is we don’t know, but everybody thinks that she did it, and are not exploring other people too. If I could arrest on looks that guy in the Cantu family would be in jail too.

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