Huckaby Tried Suicide Before Arrest: Report

Sunday school teacher may have victimized other children: police

Melissa Huckaby, the Tracy, Calif. woman accused in the kidnapping, raping and murder of an 8-year-old girl, then stuffing her body in a suitdcase, tried to commit suicide just days before her arrest by swallowing three X-Acto knife blades, according to CBS News. 

Huckaby was hospitalized and treated for the resulting lacerations, according to a KFWB (CBS) Los Angeles radio report on Wednesday morning.

The Sunday school teacher made her first court appearance Tuesday since being charged with in the child's death.

Huckaby trembled and cried as a Stockton judge read the charge of ne count of murder with the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14 and murder during a kidnapping. Huckaby did not enter a plea, and another court appearance was set for next week. Prosecutors had not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Sandra Cantu disappeared March 27. A 10-day search ended last week when farmworkers draining an irrigation pond found a suitcase containing Sandra's body.

Also Tuesday, police searched for a second time at the home where Melissa Huckaby lived just a few doors down from Cantu, who was friends with her daughter. Authorities also again searched Huckaby's grandfather's Clover Road Baptist Church in Tracy, a city of about 78,000 people 60 miles east of San Francisco.
Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman would not say why police returned to the church and home, which were also searched in the days after Sandra's body was found. But he said police are continuing to investigate Huckaby, who they believe acted alone.

Investigators said they believe Huckaby may have victimized other children.

"What we're asking is for the public if they have any indication that any of their children may have had inappropriate contact with Ms. Huckaby to contact us," Sheneman said.

Huckaby appeared in a San Joaquin County courtroom Tuesday for her arraignment in a red jumpsuit and shackles, trembling and crying as a judge read the charge: one count of murder with the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14 and murder in the course of a kidnapping.

The special circumstances mean Huckaby, if convicted, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. District Attorney James Willett said Tuesday he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Sandra was last seen on a surveillance camera skipping outside the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park.

A 10-day search by law enforcement and the community ended on April 6, when farmworkers draining an irrigation pond a few miles away from the mobile home complex found the suitcase containing Sandra's body.

Police have said Sandra was found wearing the same clothes she had on when she was last seen: a pink "Hello Kitty" T-shirt and black leggings. They have not said how, why or where she was killed, and the coroner's office has said autopsy results are pending.

The complaint said the murder happened "on or about" March 27, but gave no other details.


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Huckaby was arrested Friday, hours after she told reporters, including NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez that the suitcase was hers but it had been stolen the day Sandra went missing.

Huckaby's family has described her as a loving mother who had a strong religious background and wouldn't hurt anyone. She lived with her grandparents.

Relatives visited Huckaby at San Joaquin County Jail on Monday night, where she had been under observation. That was the first time they'd seen her since her arrest.

Huckaby's father, Brian Lawless, said the family cried and prayed together during the visit.

"She's not getting much sleep but in spite of all that that she looks good," he said afterwards. "We're in shock ... The young lady I see on film, that's not my daughter."

A public memorial service is scheduled for Sandra in Tracy on Thursday.

Huckaby has been ordered to return to court on April 24, and at that time, she's expected to enter a plea.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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