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Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

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sandr cantu

Post  Guest on Fri 11 Sep - 20:20

so do i eddie like most evil sick peado's she was saying she was on medication through depression, i suffer with depression but i don't want to harm anyone let alone young children.

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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  wjk on Sat 12 Sep - 0:03

A gross disgusting piece of filth!!
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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Sun 13 Sep - 9:16

Poor baby girl, what an absolutely dreadful thing to happen to such a lovely child. My heart goes out to her family they must be going through hell. I'm not a vengeful person but I think her killer should face the ultimate penalty for this terrible crime. RIP little one xxx

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sandra cantru

Post  Guest on Sun 13 Sep - 10:03

she looked a beautiful girl with a lovely smile and the way its looking like her killer melissa huckaby will get the death penalty here's hoping for sandra that justice will be done

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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Susan on Mon 10 May - 20:20

Thanks for this news Schnuffel!

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\'Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.\' Abraham Lincoln

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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  AnnaEsse on Tue 11 May - 6:42

Huckaby looks so sorry for herself in those images, rather than remorseful. I can't get over the fact that she was a Sunday school teacher.

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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  AnnaEsse on Tue 15 Jun - 18:16

She sexually assaulted that child with a rolling pin. That is so sick
it's beyond my capacity to grasp how someone could be so evil. I imagine
Huckaby will have to be kept separate from the ordinary prisoners for
the rest of her life. She will live in fear that one of those people will get to her in the showers or manage to get to her in any part of the prison where she has to move around. This will be far worse than the death penalty.

"You can run on for a long time, Run on for a long time, Run on for a long time, Sooner or later God'll cut you down." (Johnny Cash)

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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:11

Melissa Huckaby Indicted in Cantu Murder

Former Sunday School Teacher Accused of Raping and Murdering 8-Year-Old Sandra Cantu

Aug. 17, 2009

Former Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby broke down in tears today when she was indicted in a Stockton, California courtroom on charges of kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year-old neighbor Sandra Cantu and drugging two others.

In April, Huckaby, 28, pleaded not guilty to the murder of a second-grader whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in an irrigation pond 10 days after she disappeared from the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park in Tracy, California.

She did enter a plea to the charges announced today.

The drugging indictments stem from charges prosecutors filed in May, accusing Huckaby of trying to poison a 7-year-old girl and a 37-year-old man. The girl recovered but authorities do not know what happened to the man.

At the hearing today, Huckaby had visible marks on her forehead, ABC News Sacramento affiliate KXTV reported. A prosecutor indicated Huckaby made the marks herself earlier in the day.

The murder charge includes the special circumstances of kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts with a child and rape with a foreign object , making her eligible for the death penalty if she is convicted.

Huckaby's trial date has not yet been set.


Video Of Melissa Huckaby's Arraignment:-


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:12

Sep 11, 2009

Huckaby Will Face The Death Penalty

Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for a northern California woman charged with killing an 8-year-old girl.

Thursday prosecutors announced they plan to seek the death penalty against Melissa Huckaby. She is accused of kidnapping, raping and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu.

28-year-old Huckaby pleaded not guilty to the charges and did not react when the deputy district attorney told the court his office intends to seek the death penalty.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:13

Legal Star Joins Huckaby's Team

October 30, 2009

A high-profile attorney is joining the defense team of a former Sunday school teacher accused of raping and killing Tracy resident Sandra Cantu.

Michael Burt will be working on behalf of Melissa Huckaby.

Burt has worked on big serial-killer cases, including those involving so-called Night Stalker Richard Ramirez, Charles Ng and Cary Stayner.

"He is the attorney's attorney -- an expert in the area -- and I and Miss Huckaby are lucky to have him," defense attorney Sam Behar said.

Cantu's abduction and the discovery of her body earlier attracted national attention.

Huckaby was back in court Friday as a judge guaged progress in the case against her. She was handcuffed and shackled at the hearing, and she was considerably heavier than when she was arrested seven months ago.

The defense filed motions to dismiss the grand jury charges and suppress evidence, but those motions and arguments remain sealed, along with the grand jury transcript.

Judge Linda Lofthus said public access must give way to the right to a fair trial.

"It is possible some of this evidence will be excluded because there was not a search warrant or there was a flaw in the search warrant," legal analyst Steven Clark said.

Last month, a judge opted to delay a trial after Huckaby's defense needed more time to comb through boxes of evidence. Lofthus praised the defense Friday for making significant progress in the case: It's expected a trial date will be set at next month's hearing.

However, it will be more than a year since Huckaby's arrest before the case goes to trial.

"I think it's typical even in a non-death penalty case, even in a high profile case. I don't think it's going any slower because of the media attention," Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau said.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:14

October 2010 Date Set For Melissa Huckaby's Murder Trial

Dec 4, 2009

A judge set a trial date today for a Northern California woman charged with kidnapping, raping and killing an 8-year-old Tracy girl whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase.

Melissa Huckaby was in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton this afternoon when the judge set her trial date as October 18, 2010. The 28-year-old former Sunday school teacher has pleaded not guilty to murdering Sandra Cantu, as well as to charges she drugged two other people.

Prosecutors had been pushing for a speedy trial because they say younger witnesses who may testify could have a difficult time recalling specifics in the case.

San Joaquin County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Huckaby, who was indicted in July following her arrest in April.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:15

Former Teacher Pleads Guilty to Murdering Girl

May 10, 2010

The Central California Sunday school teacher accused of kidnapping, raping and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu has pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

A California Sunday school teacher accused of kidnapping, raping and killing an 8-year-old playmate of her daughter, then stuffing the body in a suitcase, pleaded guilty Monday to murder.

Melissa Huckaby, 29, entered the guilty plea in San Joaquin County Superior Court to a charge of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of kidnapping.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, all other charges -- including two involving rape and lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14 -- were dropped, according to Assistant Court Executive Officer Sharon Morris.

The initial charges in the grand jury indictment last year would have made her eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Her trial had been set to begin in October.

Morris said Huckaby now faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole when she's sentenced June 14.

Authorities say Huckaby killed Sandra Cantu, a playmate of her young daughter, in March 2009. A search for the girl ended after 10 days when her body was found stuffed in a black suitcase pulled from an irrigation pond a few miles (kilometers) from the mobile home park where both the child and the defendant lived.

Sandra was last seen on a surveillance camera skipping near her home just five doors down from Huckaby.

Huckaby also had been charged with previously drugging a 7-year-old girl and a 37-year-old man, whom police believe she had been dating. Those charges also were dropped in the plea deal.

During Monday's hearing, Judge Linda Lofthus maintained the gag order that she had imposed in the case last year, according to Tracy police spokesman Tony Sheneman.

Angie Chavez, Sandra's aunt and the spokeswoman for the Cantu family, declined comment Monday, citing the gag order.



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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:16


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:18


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:19

Huckaby gets life without parole in killing of daughter's playmate

June 14, 2010

(CNN) -- Former Sunday School teacher Melissa Huckaby apologized Monday in a California courtroom after being sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing her daughter's 8-year-old playmate.

"It is not enough to say that I'm sorry, but that is all I can do," a tearful Huckaby told a hushed courtroom about the death of Sandra Cantu, whose body was found in a suitcase in a pond on a dairy farm 10 days after she disappeared in Tracy, California, in March 2009.

"From the day Sandra has died, I've had to live with the consequences of what I have done," said the tearful 29-year-old woman as she daubed her eyes and blew her nose. "For the rest of my life, I am going to have to live with these feelings of responsibility for her death. Not a day, not an hour goes by that I don't think about her."

She added, "I loved Sandra a great deal. She was a sweet, innocent little girl who did not deserve to have such a short life. I alone am responsible for Sandra's death."

ressed in a red prison jumpsuit and seated next to her lawyer, Huckaby directed comments to the victim's family. "I know that I have caused you a great deal of grief, and for that I am truly sorry," she said. "I should not have taken Sandra from you, and I want you to know she did not suffer and I did not sexually molest your daughter."

Huckaby also apologized to her own family -- including "my own daughter, whom I have lost" -- and thanked them for their support.

"I wish I could give you an explanation," she said. "I still cannot understand why I did what I did. Every day, I try to discover my motivation, but I still do not have an answer. This is a question I will struggle with for the rest of my life."

In a plea deal that removed the possibility of the death penalty, Huckaby admitted to the special circumstance of murder during the course of a kidnapping, which translates into life without parole. She has 60 days to appeal.

Prosecutors had charged Huckaby with murder, kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, and rape by instrument.

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus lifted a gag order and said she would consider unsealing documents related to the case.


Court records show Huckaby drugged, sexually assaulted Sandra Cantu with rolling pin


A newly released court document shows that Melissa Huckaby drugged her 8-year-old neighbor, Sandra Cantu, and sexually assaulted her with a rolling pin before stuffing her body into a suitcase and throwing it into a Tracy irrigation pond last year.

Sandra"s body was found with a blood-soaked cloth knotted into a noose, and her official cause of death was listed as "homicidal asphyxiation," according to court records that had previously been under gag order.

At a press conference this afternoon at the Tracy Police Department, prosecutor Thomas Testa said there was evidence of isopropyl alcohol on the cloth, which authorities believed was used to smother the girl.

Facing a sentence of life in prison without parole, Melissa Huckaby apologized this morning for kidnapping and killing Sandra.

Wads of used tissue gathered on the table in front of her as she spoke to Sandra"s mother in court and asked for forgiveness.

"I wish I can bring Sandra back, but I can"t," said a weeping Huckaby, who was shackled at the feet and dressed in a red jail jumpsuit.

Huckaby said she still cannot understand why she committed the crime, but that Sandra did not suffer and, contrary to reports, was not sexually molested.

"I find that statement strange," Testa said later, adding that he did not believe a jury would buy those comments.

She apologized to her family "” whom she thanked for their support and unconditional love "” and to her own young daughter, of whom she no longer has custody, saying she hoped one day she will forgive her. Sandra often went over to play with Huckaby"s daughter, who was 5 when the crime occurred.

Huckaby also apologized to the people of Tracy and the Police Department who tirelessly worked to find Sandra.

For her crimes, Huckaby, a 29-year-old former Sunday school teacher, will spend of the rest of her natural life in prison without the possibility of parole. In a surprise move, she pleaded guilty last month to murdering and kidnapping Sandra. In exchange, prosecutors took the death penalty off the table and dropped sexual abuse charges. Also dropped were charges in two unrelated drugging cases involving another Tracy girl and a Hayward man whom police today said was her ex-boyfriend. A theft case she was facing from Tracy was terminated.

Prosecutor James Willett said he decided to make the plea agreement largely because of the expense of a capital case that would likely be moved to Southern California, followed by perhaps decades of appeal.

"Quite frankly, right now California"s death penalty is a complete joke," he said.

Tracy Police Chief Janet Thiessen said she thought Huckaby took the plea deal in part because it removed sex charges that could have prohibited her from communicating with her daughter.

"Our sympathy," she said, "goes to both families on the loss of their daughters."

Huckaby sobbed while a video about Sandra was played today in the San Joaquin Superior Court in Stockton. She didn"t look away, but covered her face with her hands.

Sandra"s family members also had the opportunity to speak to Huckaby before she was sentenced.

"You took the life of an innocent girl ."‚."‚. she"s not old enough to decide to eat ice cream yet," said Sandra's father,

Daniel Cantu, who paused
during his statement, overcome with emotion.

Judy Lawless, Huckaby"s mother, apologized to the family and addressed Sandra's mother, Maria Chavez.

"If I could give you justice, the justice you deserve, that would be for you to have your baby girl in your arms right now. ."‚."‚. From mother to mother, I"m so sorry," Lawless said.

Sandra was last seen alive March 27, 2009, near her home at the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park in Tracy. A massive search took place in hopes of finding the little girl alive, but her body was discovered 10 days later in a black suitcase that had been dumped in a pond not far from where Huckaby and Sandra lived. Huckaby was arrested four days later.

According to an indictment summary Testa gave to the press, Sandra died within a few hours of when she went missing on March 27, 2009.

Security camera footage at the mobile home park shows that eight minutes after Sandra is last seen, Huckaby drives away from the park in her SUV, turning in the direction of Clover Road Baptist Church, where her grandfather was the pastor and she was a Sunday school teacher. About this time, Huckaby called the mobile home park manager to say her suitcase had been stolen from the front of her trailer.

An hour and 25 minutes later, the tape shows Huckaby driving away from the church. Investigators said at today's press conference that they believe Huckaby killed Sandra at the church and tried to cover her tracks by leaving her cell phone at home and making calls "” including one to her grandmother "” from the church phone, Testa said.

In the 30 minutes following, two people saw Huckaby at an irrigation pond at Bacchetti and Whitehall roads. Huckaby told them she had to urinate.

The next day, March 28, a breathless Huckaby showed police a misspelled and garbled note she said she found in the neighborhood that read "Cantu locked in stolin suitcase thrown in water onn Bacchetti Rd & Whitehall Rd. witness." Authorities said the writing bore similarity to Huckaby's.

Testa said it's possible she was trying to get caught, and that her hyperventilation immediately stopped when she showed an officer the note.

On April 6, after Sandra's body was found, police searched the church and found a rolling pin that had a bent handle and a smudge of blood later proven to be Sandra's. According to the court record, "there were injuries to the external genitalia which were consistent with the diameter of the rolling pin handles." The girl's family and church members said Sandra had never been in the church before.

Prescription bottles of a drug detected in Sandra's body, Alprazolam, were also found in Huckaby's purse. According to the Alprazolam website, the drug "” sometimes marketed as Xanax "” is used to treat anxiety.

In addition, police found that one of the window blinds in the church was missing a cord. An FBI expert determined that the remaining cords were consistent in every way with one that was used to bind shut the suitcase that contained Sandra's body.

At the time, Huckaby was considered as someone possibly aiming to insert herself in the limelight of a high-profile search.

"If she were trying to help, she could have done something much earlier," Testa said. "She wouldn't cut the cord of a blind, and tie the suitcase and dump it."

The one thing no one could say for certain is what Huckaby's motive was for killing Sandra.

"Why she did it, I don't know," said Tracy police Detective Tim Bauer.

Huckaby was interviewed a number of times, including for six hours the night of April 10, when she was arrested. She told detectives the death was accidental.

But police believe the murder was planned down to the detail of using a suitcase, Bauer said, adding that Huckaby had a history of mental illness and is a bipolar schizophrenic. It was previously reported that she was initially placed on suicide watch in jail for trying to swallow three razor blades in the days before her arrest.

Huckaby turned down a reporter's request for a jailhouse interview, and her attorney, Sam Behar, declined to comment to the press.

Before today, few details about the case were known. A gag order that Lofthus lifted this morning, which prevented anyone involved in the case from talking about it to the media, had been in place since last year and key documents "” including grand jury transcripts, search warrants and autopsy reports "” remained sealed.

At 1:30 p.m., an attorney representing Bay Area News Group "” which includes the San Joaquin Herald, the Contra Costa Times, the Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News "” and two other media organizations argued before Lofthus to have those documents unsealed. Members of Sandra's family were against the release of the documents, saying they do not want additional details of Sandra's death to become public because it will cause them to suffer even more pain.

Lofthus ruled to lift the order on the grand jury transcripts "” except images and exhibits that show autopsy photos "” affadavits, search warrants pertaining to Huckaby and the arrest warrant. Those items will be released at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the earliest, in order to give lawyers for Sandra"s family time to appeal.

The autopsy report was also ordered to be unsealed, but at the discretion of the San Joaquin County Sheriff"s Office. The report was not part of the court records to which Lofthus had access. The Sheriff"s Office said it was awaiting written confirmation of the decision from the court before releasing the document.

Among items Lofthus ruled to keep sealed were records pertaining to the Tracy minor whom Huckaby was accused of drugging in an unrelated case.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:20

Sandra Cantu's Mother Has No Forgiveness for Daughter's Killer, Melissa Huckaby, in "Suitcase Slaying"[

June 15, 2010

The mother of 8-year-old murder victim Sandra Cantu, whose body was found in a suitcase one year ago, says she agrees with the life prison sentence for Melissa Huckaby, the Sunday school teacher who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murdering her daughter.

But Maria Chavez, of Tracy, in northern California, said there is no forgiveness.

Chavez says it's "difficult to understand" why she Huckaby killed Sandra. On Tuesday, Chavez told NBC's "Today" show that she "can't forgive somebody that took my little girl from me."

Huckaby, 29, sobbed in court Monday as she apologized. "I still cannot understand why I did what I did. This is a question I will struggle with for the rest of my life," she said, before before being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Details of Sandra Cantu's's murder were slim until a judge lifted a gag order Monday. An investigative summary disclosed by authorities said investigators found contusions on Sandra's head and body. Injuries to the outside of her genitals were congruent with a bloodstained rolling pin that investigators found inside the church where Huckaby taught.

On April 6, 2009, in an irrigation pond, police found Sandra Cantu's body stuffed in a black suitcase. Video surveillance had captured the girl's last known whereabouts in the Orchard Estate Mobile Home Park on March 29. Approximately eight minutes later the video shows Huckaby driving her SUV away from the mobile home park in the direction of her grandfather's church, where police say the bloodstained rolling pin was found.

Huckaby pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty, and dropped charges accusing Huckaby of sexually abusing the victim.

Angie Chavez, Sandra Cantu's aunt, told Judge Linda Lofthus, "The only solace we have as a family is to know that she [Huckaby] will never do this again."


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:21

Court releases Sandra Cantu, Melissa Huckaby murder grand jury transcript

After the release of eight volumes of grand jury testimony in the murder case of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, a judge granted the victim's family a temporary restraining order blocking publication of the autopsy report.

Judge Elizabeth Humphrey made the decision shortly before 5:00 p.m. Friday, keeping the autopsy report sealed for now.

In the meantime, the San Joaquin County Superior Court released 1,851 pages of testimony from last summer's grand jury proceeding that led to the indictment of former Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby.

The transcript was sealed for months and released only after Huckaby pleaded guilty to killing Sandra Cantu and was sent to prison for life earlier this week.

Grand Jury testimony shows Huckaby was caught not just on one video camera the day Cantu disappeared, but on three: one at the trailer park and two more at nearby businesses.

Testimony confirms it was Huckaby herself who led police to identify her as the only suspect in the killing.

Huckaby approached three FBI agents and two Tracy police officers the day after Cantu disappeared and gave them a handwritten note she said she had found near the community mailboxes at her trailer park. "CANTU LOCKED IN STOLIN SUIT CASE THROWN IN WATER ONN BACHCHETTI & WHITEHALL. WITNESS," the note read.

Huckaby told the group that her suitcase had been stolen the day before.

The testimony also reveals that Cantu's mother, Maria Chavez, received a text from Huckaby the day her daughter went missing. Chavez told the grand jury the text instructed her "to tell (police) that her suitcase was missing."

Cantu's mother responded with "I wasn't worried about her suitcase. I was worried about my daughter."

Later, police visited Huckaby in her hospital room after an apparent suicide attempt to inform her Cantu's body had been found. When a Tracy detective asked Huckaby if she knew what happened she replied, "I thought it was obvious that...I think she was taken. Why do people hurt other people? Because they are sick in the head. Disgusting."

Cantu's mom, Maria Chavez, also talked about the moment she realized her daughter might be missing-- and how quickly a routine day had turned tragic.

"She could play over 20 minutes and then she has to come home and let me know that she's at the same place or she's going someplace else," Maria had told the jury.

When asked when she saw her daughter next, she said,"I didn't."

News10 has posted digital copies of the transcript. Each volume has been carefully reviewed for objectionable content.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:22

A calculated killing: The case against Melissa Huckaby


The stuffed suitcase lay on a metal autopsy table in French Camp, recovered that day from a lagoon of cow manure and waste as media helicopters jockeyed for air space above.

Bennet Omalu stood facing it. The forensic pathologist clipped a neatly knotted cord from the soaked bag and unzipped it. Sliding his arms inside, he gently scooped out a small corpse curled up like a baby in a womb.

"Speak to me, Sandra. Speak to me," Omalu whispered. "Tell me who killed you."

Perhaps some divine voice could help unriddle what he now held: the remains of Sandra Cantu, whose disappearance from her Tracy mobile home park 10 days earlier spurred a frantic search that ended with the most feared outcome for the little girl with a blithe spirit and cheeky grin.

Prosecutors would credit Omalu's work over the next six hours as pivotal in a case that last week put Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby in prison for life.

At that moment, about 6:45 p.m. April 6, 2009, the wearying search for a missing girl stopped cold, and detectives focused only on murder and the likely owner of the black Eddie Bauer suitcase.

As police held a news conference downtown that night, FBI agents locked down Clover Road Baptist Church. They searched the mobile home where Huckaby lived with her grandparents, Pastor Lane Lawless and his wife, Connie, and Huckaby's 5-year-old daughter. They searched her Kia Sportage with the tinted back windows.

Huchaby tracked the news from her bed at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital. She had checked herself in two days earlier, claiming she accidentally swallowed an X-acto knife blade while sleepwalking. Police watched her room.

She had called the mobile home park office shortly after Sandra's disappearance to report her suitcase missing. She seemed to tell everybody about the theft — police, her grandparents, nurses, and even Sandra's mother, in a text message. That night, she sent other texts to her grandmother:

"They are having an 8:15 news briefing on the suitcase. That was fast. I hope they didn't find anything."

Later, another text to Connie Lawless: "I hope she wasn't sexually assaulted."

Tracy police Detective Timothy Bauer, who led the investigation, watched Omalu open the bag on the autopsy table. Then he drove to the Orchard Estates mobile home park to notify Sandra's family. About 1 a.m., he and another detective visited Huckaby.

The suitcase, she said, "kinda looked like mine," according to Bauer. "Man, it kinda looks like I had something to do with it." But she stuck to her story.

"I asked her, 'Why would someone take her?' " the detective told the grand jury.

"And she responded, 'Why do people hurt other people? Because they are sick in their head, disgusting.' "

A new beginning

Huckaby was an event planner in Southern California and had studied criminology at a community college. She loved a good TV crime drama, especially "Law and Order."

In June 2008 her grandparents asked her to come help them pack for a move south. Plans changed. Huckaby had lived in the area years before and she decided to stay in Tracy, moving into their mobile home with her young daughter.

Connie Lawless described Huckaby, now 29, as a loner who suffered depression and had a history of cutting herself on her ankles. Diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic, she kept a bottle of prescribed benzodiazepine, the highly potent anti-anxiety drug known by the brand name Xanax. She kept other drugs, too: Adderall for pep; Paroxetine to combat depression; Furosemide, a diuretic used for heart problems and hypertension.

In January 2009, a nearby parent accused Huckaby of taking her child without permission and drugging her. The girl came home loopy. Tests found benzodiazepine in her blood. A Tracy officer questioned Huckaby, but the girl's mother had drug issues, and Huckaby acted indignant. There was no proof.

In a notebook, Huckaby kept a phone number for a wedding dress service. She had told her sometimes boyfriend, Daniel Plowman, that she was pregnant, and Plowman said he wanted to marry her. On March 2 they met in the church. He told the grand jury she gave him a drink, saying it tasted strange. Try it, she told him. That evening, police found Plowman passed out in a McDonald's drive-through lane. He awoke in jail, but never reported her.

Divorced and unemployed, Huckaby spent her days mostly in the mobile home park and taught Sunday school at the church a half-block away. At home, she took care of her daughter. Sandra would drop by to play, sometimes 10 to 15 times a day, Huckaby told police.

"I don't know if you know this, but Sandra was my daughter's best friend," Huckaby told them.

Sandra was a neighborhood sprite and the mobile home park was her playground. She felt at ease within its gates, but under home rules she would only leave with an adult she trusted. Sandra trusted Huckaby.

At 2:45 p.m. March 27, Sandra showed up to play, but Huckaby turned her away. Sandra went to play on swings at another girl's house.

At 3:54 p.m., a video shows Sandra skipping down the street, then turning. Then — nothing.

Strange behavior

At the Tracy Police Department, a half-dozen names were scrawled on a dry-erase board. Huckaby's name appeared at the bottom of the list, the only female. It was April 5, the day before a farmworker noticed the suitcase in the irrigation pond and drew it to the bank with a pitchfork.

"She was a person to re-interview, to look at her previous statements, verify her alibi, verify the timeline," Bauer said in an interview last week. "She wasn't really a top priority."

She also didn't match the profile. FBI experts pegged a white male, 25 to 40, with a criminal history of sexual assault or child pornography. Someone who abducts for sexual purposes, then kills.

We were "focusing on all these guys in the trailer park," Bauer said.

Huckaby helped steer them to a few men in the neighborhood.

The night Sandra went missing, Huckaby told police she went to the church about 4:50 or 5 p.m., came back about 6:30 and stayed home all night. The next day, during a vigil for Sandra, she rushed up to police and FBI agents "very agitated, crying, hyperventilating." She said she kicked over a note on the ground: "Cantu locked in stolin suitcase thrown in water onn Bacchetti Rd. & Whitehall Rd witness," it read, with numerous misspellings.

Suddenly, she became calm, completely relaxed. That was odd, thought FBI Special Agent Michael Conrad, a child abduction expert.

"We also commented on "... the unusual fact that a woman who reported losing a suitcase should be the one woman out of everyone in this complex who should happen to find a note that reports that the stolen suitcase was used to hide the child's body," he told the grand jury.

Even Lane Lawless, Huckaby's grandfather, was leery. "I don't know about being suspicious. It looked "... very strange," he testified.

The next day, a Sunday, police conducted their first major search — 250 officers from 13 agencies. They concentrated on the irrigation ponds in the area and sent divers into the nearby Delta waters. "You can't dive those ponds. Those ponds are cow manure and (urine). There's no visibility," Bauer said.

They would interview Huckaby on April 1, then again April 3. But men remained the focus.

"In a case like this, you can't lock it in, because she might be trying to get attention. She's an attention seeker."

Circling a suspect

Omalu finished his autopsy report at home, at 5 a.m. April 7. Sandra had been beaten, sexually assaulted, smothered to death, redressed and carefully crammed into the case, in a "perfect fetal position." The brutal sexual assault gave no evidence of semen or another body. No sign of a man.

"Look for a cylindrical object at the scene," he told investigators.

In a kitchen drawer at the church, investigators found a metal rolling pin with a bent handle and a red-brown smudge. Church members used the rolling pin to make unleavened bread for the Lord's Supper. It would test positive for Sandra's DNA.

An ex-Marine who lives on Whitehall Road spoke to police at the pond April 6. He told them he recognized Huckaby from TV as the woman he saw by the pond between 5:30 and 6 p.m. the day Sandra went missing.

" 'I just had to pee real quick,' " she told him.

He described her as "distracted and hurried."

A search of a computer at Huckaby's trailer found a Web story in September 2008 reporting Israeli divers finding a suitcase with the remains of a missing 4-year-old girl.

Later tests matched a cord on the suitcase with one missing from the school room.

Investigators analyzed video from the mobile home park, from a nearby hotel and an am/pm market. Huckaby's alibi didn't wash.

A receipt from her purse showed that Huckaby went to McDonald's just after 8 p.m. the night of Sandra's abduction, Bauer said.

"The night when she killed Sandra, she went out for fast food."

Elaborate story

Huckaby left the hospital at 7 a.m. April 9, a Thursday. An hour later she called police, who had asked her to meet with them. Investigators questioned her for an hour at the station. The next day, they asked her to return.

For three hours, Bauer said, detectives described their evidence. They showed her handwriting samples linking her to the note. Huckaby broke down and admitted causing Sandra's death.

She wove an elaborate story of an accidental death and panic. "She said she was loading up the suitcase, taking it to the church. Sandra goes over there and Melissa says, 'Let's play a game of hide and seek. You get in the suitcase, I'll zip it up.' " Bauer said.

"Melissa says she forgets her keys and cell phone and went in, came back out, got in the car, went to the church and completely forgot about Sandra. She decorates the church, goes out — 'Oh, crap' — opens it up in the church and sees Sandra lifeless. "... She's freaking out, 'Oh my God, I killed her,' panicking."

One thought, Huckaby told them, was to pack Sandra back in the suitcase and leave her on her family's porch. Instead, she told detectives, she rolled out the suitcase with Sandra's body inside and drove, then found the irrigation pond.

The story had no credibility. "Her body didn't fit in there. She was stuffed in there," Bauer said. "There's no physical way."

Motive still elusive

Clearly, Bauer said, Huckaby carefully planned the crime.

"I think the girl who got drugged in January was practice. I think Daniel Plowman was practice. If you send a child away that comes over 10, 15 times a day, what do you think is going to happen? She's going to come back," he said. "Melissa knew how Sandra operated.

But why Sandra?

"I don't know," Bauer said. "Melissa's world was her daughter. Sandra was like the little flower child of the trailer park. Everybody liked her. Melissa's daughter is not like that. I don't know if there's some jealousy going on."

In a plea deal, Huckaby took life in prison without parole. No death penalty, and no sex charges that could mean the end of contact with her daughter. At her sentencing, she apologized to Sandra's family and said she did not understand why she murdered.

Prosecutor Thomas Testa doesn't buy it. A piece of him wishes there had been a trial to tease out her motivation.

"She's a smart person," he said. "She writes well. She speaks well. She's in full possession of her faculties."

This story is based on interviews, court testimony and a review of more than 1,800 pages of grand jury transcripts released Friday under court order, against the objections of Sandra Cantu's family. Bay Area News Group has tried to balance the public's interest in knowing details of the case and plea agreement with a respect for the family's concerns.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:23

Melissa Huckaby Moved To New Prison

Jul 21, 2010

Convicted child killer Melissa Huckaby is settling into a new prison cell.

Huckaby was transferred from Valley State Prison for Women to the Central California Women's Facility.

The California Department of Corrections says the facility in Chowchilla is better suited to house Huckaby.

She is being kept segregated in a single cell for her protection.

Huckaby is serving a life sentence for the kidnap and murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:24

Trial date set for permanently sealing Cantu autopsy report


The date for a trial to prevent Sandra Cantu's autopsy report from ever becoming public has been set for next year.

Members of the 8-year-old Tracy girl's family are seeking a permanent injunction against the release of the public document, citing family privacy. They especially fear the grisly crime-scene and autopsy photos would forever be just a Google search away.

The trial is set for Sept. 26, 2011. A temporary injunction is in place preventing the public record from being released for now.

Attorneys representing Sandra's family members and San Joaquin County said the need for the injunction may be a moot point if a bill in the state Legislature passes, which would seal autopsy reports of murdered minors from public view at the victim's family's request.

Sandra was drugged, sexually assaulted and killed, then stuffed into a black suitcase and dumped in an irrigation pond about two miles from her Tracy home on March 27, 2009. Her neighbor and friend's mother, 29-year-old Melissa Huckaby, was arrested on April 10, 2009, four days after the suitcase surfaced. The suitcase belonged to Huckaby.

In May, Huckaby accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Had a jury convicted Huckaby, she could have faced the death penalty.

After Huckaby's sentencing in June, Sandra's family fought a media request to unseal court records, such as the grand jury transcripts that detail how Sandra died, but the judge overseeing Huckaby's case ruled to unseal most of the documents.


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 0:25

Justice Served - The Balance Between a Fair Trial & The Public's Right To Know

Justice served

Judge showed confidence, legal dexterity in handling conflicting issues

June 20, 2010 12:00 AM

In balancing the often conflicting rights of a fair trial and the public's right to know, San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus had to walk a tightrope.

She did it with aplomb in the Melissa Huckaby case. In the end, the admitted murderer of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu received the justice her crime demanded. And the people, although denied access to much of the information about the case while it was underway, will get details that will help them better understand what happened and how authorities performed.

In criminal cases, certainly in those that attract public attention such as the Cantu slaying, it is normal for investigators to hold back information. It's easy enough to understand, certainly as a case develops.

Things can quickly spin out of control, though, especially in high-profile cases. Anyone in the vicinity of the county courthouse Monday would have seen the tremendous interest in the Huckaby case. There were a dozen or so broadcast outlet vehicles parked about. Print reporters, although less visible, were just as numerous.

That kind of pressure on authorities is why courts often impose so-called gag orders, banning police and court officials from talking about the case with the press. Courts also sometimes seal police reports, search warrants and grand jury transcripts.

All of this is an effort to protect the fair trial rights of the accused, preserve the integrity of the case and keep information away from citizens who at some point might be asked to sit in judgment as jurors.

That's the tightrope Lofthus walked as the charges against Huckaby worked their way through her court.

Last month, the 30-year-old former Sunday school teacher entered a surprise guilty plea to the murder charges. That short-circuited a possible jury trial. Her plea agreement with prosecutors also ended the possibility of her facing execution (death penalty).

Still, Lofthus refused to lift the gag order and release investigative reports. She wanted to make absolutely sure Huckaby would not change her mind and withdraw her plea. Although frustrating to many in the media, the decision to wait just a few weeks longer was prudent.

Also prudent and sensitive, was the judge's decision Monday to withhold autopsy photographs that are part of the case file. There is no reason for those photos to be in general circulation.

As Lofthus said, she believes the mainstream media would continue to withhold such photos. Certainly The Record would never publish them. But we live in an Internet age and anyone with a Web link can go into the "news" business.

It's those "on the fringe of mainstream media," as the judge put it, who are the worry. There is no doubt those photos would be on the Internet within minutes of their release.

And Sandra Cantu's family should have some say here. Their privacy disappeared the moment Sandra skipped through the view of that last surveillance camera near her home and vanished. Sandra's family members are Melissa Huckaby's victims, too. Understandably, they want none of the details of this case in the public arena (a decision on the release of the autopsy report was delayed during a civil court hearing Friday).

Lofthus walked a tightrope here, also. She had to balance their desire to be left alone against the public's right to know. The judge did that by agreeing to keep closed the autopsy photos.

These cases are not easy. If they were, we wouldn't need judges. In this case, justice was served, the public was served and much of the credit for that goes to the steady hand of the trial judge who oversaw the proceedings.


More on the Sandra Cantu case here:-


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Re: Sandra Cantu - killed by Melissa Huckaby

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