California prosecutors say they are considering rape and molestation allegations against the woman suspected of killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu and stuffing her body into a suitcase.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himmelblau told The Associated Press today that a homicide charge against Melissa Huckaby, 28, could also include the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and murder in the course of a kidnapping. (This would explain why she killed Sandra. And those are all charges that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Huckaby.)
Huckaby, a Sunday school teacher, was arrested last week on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sandra, whose body was found inside a suitcase in an irrigation pond. Huckaby is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

When Huckaby turned herself into police last week for questioning, she was “calm and cool and collected,” according to police in Tracy, Calif.

So far, police say, there’s no known motive for the killing.

“We’re very, very shocked,” said Joani Hughes, Huckaby’s aunt. “It’s very out of character for Melissa.”

Huckaby’s family described the granddaughter of the local pastor as a devoted mother to her 5-year-old daughter who had a wonderful singing voice.

But her father, Brian Lawless, said that his daughter had often struggled with raising a child on her own and had sometimes suffered from bouts of depression. She’d also been in trouble with the law. When she was arrested Friday night on kidnapping and murder charges, after six hours of questioning, she was on probation for theft.

Other Sandra Cantu Updates
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