*Though I’ve done my best to not use graphic language here or post truly disturbing images since we are speaking of a child, if crimes against children upset you, you may still want to skip this one*
To know 8 year old Sandra Cantu was to love her; this child brought joy to everyone she ever met. She was known for stopping to chat with all of her neighbors, and happily helping them with chores such as yard work, cooking, and cleaning. She was always wearing a warm smile and it’s safe to say everyone just adored little Sandra Cantu.
Sandra was last seen on a neighbor’s camera around four in the afternoon on March 27th of 2009. She’d been walking down the road wearing a pink hello kitty shirt and black leggings. When it was time for dinner and Sandra still hadn’t made it home, her mama, Maria Chavez, began to panic; the child was never this late, she’d loved to help prepare dinner in the evenings. The police were called, and the entire neighborhood came together in search of this beloved little girl.
Later that night, Sandra’s best friend’s mother, 28 year old Melissa Huckaby, sent Maria a text stating that her Eddie Bauer suitcase had gone missing from her yard. Melissa also made the observation that this missing suitcase had been large enough to hold a child. Then, a few days later, Melissa discovered a note which read, “Cantu locked in stolen suitcase. Thrown in water on Bacchetti Road and Whitehall Road. Witness.”.
On April 6th the suitcase which held Sandra’s tiny body was discovered just as the note had said. The child had been drugged, sexually assaulted, strangled, stuffed into the suitcase in a fetal position, and thrown into the water. Police initially believed that they should been searching for a man – a woman wouldn’t have done something this heinous, right?
The main suspect quickly became Melissa. There had been something off about her and what were the chances that the same woman who’d lost her suitcase would be the one to find the letter? But she was a pastor’s daughter and a Sunday school teacher! Melissa seemed like the last person who would do something like this – unless you looked into her criminal/physiological record. This Sunday school teacher was a fire starter with a history of attacking people.
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.
Bipolar meds had been discovered in Sandra’s digestive system, the same kind of meds which Melissa had been prescribed. Knowing this, police got a warrant to search their suspect’s property; they found a notebook with indentations from the witness letter Melissa had turned over to police. This was proof that the note had been written by Melissa. Next investigators decided to search her father’s church, and this is where they found a rolling pin covered with little Sandra Cantu’s blood on both ends. I am not going to get into the details here, I’m sure you can imagine exactly how Melina had assaulted this precious, sweet & innocent little girl.
On the day Sandra had gone missing, Melissa had given little Sandra a drink, spiked with her own medication. When Sandra passed out, Melissa had taken the child to her family’s church; once there, she’d used that rolling pin, strangled the girl to death with a cloth fashioned into a noose, and dumped this prescious baby in the water where she’d eventually been found.
Come to find out, Melissa had drugged 2 other people with her medications in the weeks prior to the murder – she’d tested the waters. This was absolute proof that Melissa had been planning this murder for quite some time, but why in the world would she have wanted to hurt this child?
The general consensus is, Melissa had been jealous of sweet little Sandra and she’d wanted to keep her own little girl all to herself; she felt Sandra, her own daughters best friend, had been taking her own little girl away from her. It’s surmised that Melissa had used that rolling pin not for her own satisfaction but to throw police off her trail, so that investigators would be searching for a man. And that was probably part of her reasoning, but it’s likely Melissa wanted to hurt the child in such a way; it must’ve made her feel powerful and in control. Melissa claims that she herself had been raped a decade earlier; maybe this was a case of the abused becoming the abuser? Personally I’m curious as to whether she ever assaulted her own child in this way.
Melissa liked to watch murder documentaries, and she thought she was clever enough to get away with this. She was dead wrong; this killer made one of the silliest and most common mistakes in the book: she’d inserted herself into the investigation, placed herself on investigator’s radar from day one. When confronted with all the evidence against her, Melissa stated that Sandra was playing a game in her yard; she hid herself inside the suitcase and accidentally suffocated. We know that’s a damn lie; even if we completely ignore all of the other evidence against her, there’s no possible way Sandra could’ve put herself in that suitcase.
Today Melissa is serving life in prison with no parole. At sentencing, she stated that this prescious little girl “didn’t suffer” and that she “didn’t sexually molest her.” These are just more lies, of course. Perhaps she was hoping to get a reduced sentence…
*Since it’s the beginning of the month, I need to mention Patreon. As of this morning, there’s another new exclusive article available. The lowest tier to join is only $3 – though I completely understand sometimes even $3 is way too much. But if you can afford it, I would really appreciate your support; if you do not wish to join Patreon but would still like to help support this site, you can always donate – no donation is too small. Either way, thank you for reading, and to those of you who have been kind to me throughout the past few months, bless you. 💛 Crystal Bearr