I’ve been following the disappearance and subsequent discovery of Sandra Cantu’s body in a suitcase in an irrigation pond for a couple of weeks now but haven’t had the opportunity to devote any time to writing about the case until this morning. Just a quick update before I go to the doctor’s office in a couple of hours.
8-year-old Sandra Cantu went missing on March 27th. She had gone to a friend’s house to play and never came home. All of this is in the news and forums all over the Internet. If you haven’t heard about Sandra yet I am surprised. The disappearance prompted a big search of the area around Tracy, California, centered in the trailer park where she lived. A week prior to Easter Sandra’s body was found stuffed inside a suitcase dumped in an irrigation pond. An autopsy has been performed but the final results won’t be available for at least a month.
Early on police questioned Clifford Lawless, the pastor of Clover Road Baptist Church. There had been a lot of deliberation on the forums as to whether or not he was a suspect in the disappearance. Obviously that has changed now that his grand-daughter Melissa Huckaby has been arrested.
Police have questioned Huckaby a couple of times and she has also done some interviews with the media as well. This past Friday she had a phone interview with CBS5 in San Francisco in which she said that the suitcase might be hers and that it had been stolen out of her driveway. She claimed that she had been packing up her car to go do some work at the church (she was a Sunday School teacher at her grandfather’s church) but she had forgotten the suitcase and when she returned to pick it up it was missing.
Here’s a map of the general area of the trailer park and the church.
View Sandra Cantu map in a larger map
After Sandra’s interview with CBS5 she drove down to the police station to answer more questions. After several hours she was finally arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Sandra Cantu. While Huckaby has had a past history with the law she has never been arrested for any type of violent crime, although a couple of years ago she claimed that she wasn’t mentally competent to stand trial for petty theft. The court disagreed and she is currently on probation for petty theft.
Here is the phone interview that Huckaby gave to CBS5.
The case keeps sounding worse and worse though. Now prosecutors in San Joaquin County are saying that the homicide charge may include rap with a foreign object, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as well as murder in the course of kidnapping. Perhaps the claim that she wasn’t mentally competent was right on the money. Of course I don’t think that even if she is crazy (you would have to be to harm a child) should preclude any type of punishment. Too bad she’s in California where she’s not likely to get the death penalty.
Melissa is scheduled for arraignment today. If they do add the special circumstances it would make Huckaby eligible for death but I just don’t see it happening.
From what I am reading this morning, while police won’t say how or where Sandra was killed, sources close to the investigation say that law enforcement believe she was killed inside the church, although it’s not clear if the molestation happened there.
One thing I’ve been reading is how surprised people are that Melissa Huckaby was arrested for the crime. I just can’t say I am all that surprised. Not that I had guessed it prior to her arrest or anything. I certainly don’t consider myself a great judge of criminals or their character but maybe I have just become a bit jaded and the sick things that people do just don’t suprise me any more. Of course in my job I deal with people in the lower income brackets constantly and while that certainly doesn’t make them criminals there seems to be a greater number of people that just don’t give a shit.
If Melissa Huckaby is found guilty of the heinous crime do you think she should be given the death penalty or just life in prison?