Cantu Family Holds Private Funeral

The family of Sandra Cantu held a private funeral Wednesday for the 8-year-old girl who was found dead last week after a massive 10-day search.
Several dozen people gathered for the noontime service at Fry Memorial Chapel. A horse-drawn carriage then carried the casket to the Tracy Mausoleum.

Thursday a public memorial will be held for the little girl and hundreds are expected to attend.

Among the speakers are Attorney General Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Tracys Mayor and its police chief.

Sandra's burial comes a day after her alleged killer, 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby, was arraigned on a murder charge with the special circumstances of kidnapping and rape. The Sunday school teacher lived down the street from the Cantu family and is the mother of one of Sandra's playmates.

Police have not said how, where or why Huckaby may have killed the little girl.  CBS News is reporting she died in the church where the suspect was a Sunday school teacher.

The break in the case came Friday when Huckaby told a reporters, including NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez that the suitcase that contained Sandra's body was hers, but it had been stolen out of her driveway the day Sandra disappeared.

Police questioned her later that night ending in her arrest.

The slaying had already aroused fear among parents in Tracy and especially in the mobile home complex, but the rape allegation heightened concern for children.

Police are now advising parents to report any information they may have regarding other possible sexual assaults in the community.

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

Sandra disappeared March 27, and was last seen on a surveillance camera skipping outside the mobile home park.

A 10-day search ended on April 6, when farmworkers draining a nearby irrigation pond found the suitcase containing Sandra's body.

Huckaby's grandfather, Pastor Clifford Lawless, was interviewed the night Sandra's body was recovered, and police took computers and a phone from his home, where Huckaby also lived. The nearby church also was searched. Police haven't said what seized.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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