Murder of Sandra Cantu
|Born||Sandra Renee Cantu
March 8, 2001
Tracy, California, U.S.A.
|Disappeared||March 27, 2009 (aged 8)
Tracy, California, U.S.A.
|Cause of death||Homicidal asphyxiation|
|Body discovered||San Joaquin County, California, USA|
|Resting place||Tracy, California, USA|
|Known for||Murder Victim|
|Home town||Tracy, California|
|Height||4'0" (122 cm)|
|Weight||45 lbs (20 kg)|
The Sandra Cantu homicide occurred on or around March 27, 2009, in Tracy, California. Sandra Renee Cantu (March 8, 2001 – March 27, 2009), was an eight-year-old girl, who was reported missing on March 27, 2009, while she wearing a pink Hello Kitty T-shirt and black leggings. After several days, investigators began losing hope until April 6 when a man named Jose Luis Franco, while working at a dairy farm, discovered a suitcase in a pond containing the body of Sandra Cantu.
Disappearance and murder
On April 10, 2009, police arrested 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby and charged her with the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Cantu. The child's body was found in a black Eddie Bauer suitcase belonging to Huckaby, who reported to have left it in her driveway on the day Cantu disappeared. Police did not at the time provide details as to why Huckaby was arrested, but there was evidence to suggest that a police investigator leaked to a reporter that Huckaby was a key suspect. With their investigation blown, police interrogated Huckaby after a story was published in the Tracy Press in which Huckaby claimed ownership of the suitcase. She was placed under arrest after the interrogation on April 10. Reports following the arrest indicated that in the days prior, Huckaby attempted suicide by swallowing razor blades; Huckaby reportedly has denied this.
It has been reported that police in Tracy believe she murdered Cantu in the church where Huckaby's grandfather served as a minister. According to the pathologist's report, Sandra had been strangled with a torn piece of cloth that had been knotted into what police described as "a noose." The cause of death was determined to be "homicidal asphyxiation." Some of Sandra's injuries were also consistent with a rolling pin with a bent handle and bloody smudge found inside the church. A pathology report revealed that the smudge on the rolling pin matched Sandra's blood. The report also showed she was sexually assaulted with the object.
Huckaby was indicted by a grand jury on charges of kidnapping, murder and rape in connection with the death of Cantu. The prosecution subsequently announced that the death penalty would be sought at trial. However, Huckaby pled guilty to the murder on May 10, 2010, sparing her from a possible death sentence. All other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. On June 14, 2010 Huckaby was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crime.
February 23, 1981 |
Orange County, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Sunday School teacher|
|Criminal charge||First degree murder, et al.|
|Criminal penalty||Life without parole|
|Criminal status||Incarcerated in Central California Women's Facility|
Melissa Huckaby (born February 23, 1981) is a former Sunday school teacher in the 1990s in Orange County, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Sandra Cantu. Born in Orange County, California, Huckaby is the granddaughter of Clifford Lawless, former pastor of Clover Road Baptist Church in Tracy, California.
- Crying Mom Charged With Cantu Murder, Rape
- Missing Calif. 8-year-old found dead – UPI.com
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