Suspect's Family Speaks about Sandra Cantu Death

April 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The town of Tracy is now turning its focus to the unusual suspect in the murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, and the unusual location where police believe the crime occurred.The family of the woman arrested in Sandra Cantu's murder is coming forward with their side of the story.

Easter Sunday services went on as planned at the Clover Road Baptist Church even as reports have surfaced that 8-year-old Sandra Cantu may have been killed inside by the preacher's granddaughter.

"We know that the church property has been the focus of some of the investigation and we are distressed at the possibility that such a tragedy might have happened in a place of worship," said Brett Lawless, the suspect's uncle.

But Tracy Police have not released details about where or how Sandra was killed. Their suspect, Melissa Huckaby remains in jail on suicide watch. The 28-year-old lives with her grandparents in the same mobile home park where Sandra lived. She taught Sunday school at the church, just down the road.

Sunday, family members were in disbelief over allegations that she killed her own daughter's playmate and then stuffed her body in a suitcase.

Brian Huckaby is Melissa Huckaby's father. He said the single mother has suffered from depression, but that she is an excellent mother who loves children. "She was always very gentle. And very kind and compassionate to children and senior citizens," said Brian Huckaby.

But police say Melissa Huckaby admitted she owned the suitcase Sandra's body was found in, and they believe she acted alone.

"Her life was all wrapped around her daughter and never had any involvement with any men dating or anything of that nature," said Brian Huckaby.

Sandra's family remains grief stricken and angry.

Pastor Lane Lawless said his family also grieves over the prospect that his own granddaughter might be Sandra's killer. "I'll just pray about it and I'll pray for them. They lost a daughter and perhaps I lost a granddaughter."

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