I could ramble the list of "male" crimes off in my head without a second thought. I imagine most people could. There are just certain crimes that seem to have committed themselves to being considered a "mans" crime. If I start talking about a rapist- how many people imagine a man? If I start talking about serial killers- do you envision a male or a female? And, if I told you that someone kidnapped a killed a child they weren't related to- who would you picture the suspect being- a woman or a man? It's strange, yet these seem to be crimes we associate with men. Don't get me wrong- women have earned their own set of crimes that we've resigned to associating with a female perp rather than a male.
The case of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu seems to have caught a good deal of people off guard. As horrible as a missing child is- we've slowly grown use to the flash of cute pictures and the stories of towns banning together to hang missing persons fliers everywhere. And, tragically- despite the pain of it- we've even taken the burden of knowing that some of these missing child cases will not end with a happy reunion. We don't wish for that, we don't enjoy that, but we've come to accept it. Because we've been there so many times before. But what makes this case so different- what caught so many off guard was, well, the suspect.
We've come to expect that when a non family member abducts and murders a child, and the police stand in front of camera's to make the "suspect in custody" statement, that they will no doubt unveil the image of some man, usually white, older, some sort of criminal history. Once in a while, maybe it's a younger guy, maybe not a white person, maybe they have no criminal history. And while it's surprising- we'll accept that. What we can't understand is when everything we expect of this "unveiled" suspect doesn't meet the actual suspect. We expected a he. We got a she.
When news that 28 year old Melissa Huckaby, a Sunday school teacher and the mother of a 5 year old playmate of Sandra Cantu was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murdering the child- there was an strange feeling of shock. Just how could the suspect be a woman? The mother of Sandra Cantu's friend? The very same woman who helped search for her, who told reporters that Sandra Cantu had been to her home that day wanting to play... it just doesn't seem right that a woman could actually be responsible for this. The scenario is hard to swallow.
Police said Huckaby lives in the same mobile home complex where Sandra lived with her family; the Tracy Press reported Huckaby lives with her grandparents.
Police noted "inconsistencies" between comments Huckaby made to the newspaper and a previous statement she gave authorities, Sheneman said. It was one reason police asked her Friday to come to the station to be interviewed again. She drove there about 6 p.m. Friday, he said.
Authorities believe Huckaby lied about the suitcase being missing, Sheneman said.
Asked whether authorities believe Sandra's death was planned, Sheneman said the question is "not something I can answer right now" but "we do have an indication." He said authorities have found where they believe the girl was killed, but would not divulge that location to reporters.
"I couldn't begin to theorize what her motive is," Sheneman said of Huckaby.