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There will not be a second autopsy in the Sandra Cantu case

April 22, 2009

Melissa Huckaby’s public defender, Sam Behar,  has withdrawn his request to exhume Sandra Cantu’s remains so that a second autopsy could be conducted.  The defense had requested a second autopsy saying,

“I believe and allege such an examination is extremely crucial and material to Ms. Huckaby’s defense.”

Public Defender Peter Fox told the San Fran Chronicle that independent tests were not needed and that relevant samples were well preserved.

“It will not be necessary to disturb the child’s remains. From a human point of view, certainly, it’s nice not to have to do that.” Fox said.

The results of the original autopsy, cause of death, and toxicology reports have not been released.

This news came on the heels of San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Van Oss’ announcement that he would recuse himself from the case.  No reason was given.

Judge Linda Lofthus took over for Oss and she has directed that a gag order be put in place.  All parties are NOT to release “information or opinions concerning this case or any issue likely involved in this case.”

Huckaby is scheduled to appear at a second arraignment at 12:45 p.m. Friday in Stockton.  She is charged with 1 count of murder and 3 special circumstances: kidnapping, rape with a foreign object, and lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14.

read it below:

Tracy Press

All I can say is that it’s a smart judge that put a gag order on this case.  Otherwise, the murder of Sandra Cantu could quickly take on the same tone as the Casey Anthony case.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Augie permalink
    April 22, 2009 10:23 am

    Small blurb on TV news early this morning stated that Huckaby was also a suspect in two arson fires in Southern California (assuming when she lived there prior to moving to Tracy) but charges were never made since it could not be proven.

  2. itsamysterytome permalink*
    April 22, 2009 10:38 am

    Good grief, Augie!

    This woman was a walking time bomb that went off. How could her family not have known she had serious problems? Man!!!

  3. Bette permalink
    April 22, 2009 10:52 am

    This link includes the complete telephone interview with Melissa Huckabee regarding the 7-year old the hospital tested as drugged. The interview was from before her arrest. She quick on her feet setting up her story in a press telephone interview.

    Video is a CNN/NG report.

    Also a Tracy native said he/she’s gotten inside info that little Sandra was strangled but with gag order in place, it’s currently only rumor. But we’ve seen that many of the native’s comments regarding the case have been confirmed by later police statements. There still is a consensus that the rape with a foreign object was Huckaby attempting to create false evidence to an imaginary male.

    The issue of Melissa Huckaby’s cellphone and keys where found in the luggage with Sandra’s body is discussed as being true.

    Bette–Thanks for the link. I agree with you that a lot of the locals comments have later been confirmed as the truth. I hope it’s not true that Sandra was strangled. What a scary way for her to die.

  4. augie permalink
    April 22, 2009 11:00 am

    I know mystery, my first thought hearing about the arson reports was the fact this woman has been up to many things, you can bet there is a heavy investigation going on in S. Cal by PD questioning locals there she was affiliated or associated with….especially parents with children she had access to.

    CNN is discussing the arson issues too, I missed the whole thing but they repeat stories so will hopefully catch the entire report. What I did catch is that “…one of the fires” didn’t create too much damage” . . .leaving me to think the other one was larger damages.

    Am going to surf out local Tracy TV channels, apparently the parents of the drugged 7 year old did give on air interview to a local channel … and as with Caylee Anthony, different news providers have different sources resulting in different access to info … the CNN report mentioned a local channel’s call letters but I missed them.

    Am digging and will update if I find anything for you all.

  5. augie permalink
    April 22, 2009 11:18 am

    OMG . . . the CNN report just stated that Huckaby isn’t being charged in the two arson cases BECAUSE the Sandra Cantu case took priority.

    Soooo. they WERE active cases against her!

    Geez mah-kneez! You can bet she bee-lined to Tracy to sit things out in Tracy with grandma and grandpa for these reasons which conflicts with her family claiming she left S. Cal to live in [agricultural] Tracy because of her “allergy” problems.

    I always thought that was odd since if one is suffering severely from allergies, one goes to climes that aren’t pollen laden agricultural areas.

    Yesterday I was sickened by listening to the transcript of her probation judge who was impressed with her advances made with the court ordered therapy (first week of April) and told her to come back another date for updates.

    One makes advances in one of two ways in therapy: by telling the unadulterated truth and/or manipulating the therapist with BS.

    She’s obviously got her gold star from her therapist and the judge for having a PhD in BS

    Augie–sounds like this woman was a walking train wreck. Thanks for the update.

  6. augie permalink
    April 22, 2009 11:22 am

    sorry I keep posting . . caught the call letters for the news reported on CNN and dug them out:

    A week before Huckaby was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Cantu, La Palma police contacted the Tracy Police Department.

    “Huckaby had rented a room in a home in La Palma and arson was to blame for a minor fire and later a moderate fire in the same house. Police confirm Huckaby is a suspect in at least one or possibly two fires that occurred in July 2007.” (Sacramento area)

  7. Elise permalink
    April 22, 2009 11:49 am

    on CBS news

    Two fires broke out in eight days at a home where Huckaby rented a room in La Palma – that’s in Orange County, Calif.

    The mother, who only wishes to be identified as Laura, says her seven-year-old daughter tested positive for a muscle relaxer after Melissa Huckaby took her to a local park for several hours. The day she was arrested, Huckaby told KPIX-TV in San Francisco that she had permission to take the girls, which Laura flatly denied.

    “She didn’t have permission,” Laura said. “Nobody gave her permission to take my baby. CPS took her from me that night because they thought I has something to do with it,” Laura said. ”

    Laura called 911 after finding her daughter was missing when she returned home from work on January 17, and police let Huckaby go once she brought Laura’s daughter home.

    Investigators didn’t charge her, nor could they prove that Melissa Huckaby was responsible – too much time had passed between the girl’s return and the doctor’s finding.

    “I was shocked, but I kept telling them to look into Melissa Huckaby a little bit more,” Laura said. She says she believes if authorities investigated Huckaby more closely, Sandra might still be alive.

    You can bet dollars to donuts Huckaby’s claims of her being Sunday School teacher – which is profusely denied by locals in her church – were made to the police that night which made them give her a pass.

    All they had to do was pull her name up on their computers in their car instead of “letting her go”, Sandra would not be dead today.

    This woman is devious and clever enough to soft voice good girl herself out of personal responsibility with the best and brightest.

    She’s duped shrinks, police, judge, neighbors, family, friends, church, kids, etc. she’s the West Coast Casey Anthony.

    (Starting to think the Florida PD should be digging deeper on Casey’s potential links to other crimes in the region since aberrant behavior of murder usually comes from escalating up from smaller crimes.)

    Elise–you make a good point–and we already know Casey was stealing her mother blind as well as stealing from her grandmother and one of her friends.

    Let’s hope Melissa Huckaby’s family doesn’t mirror the Anthonys in the circus department.

  8. Elise permalink
    April 22, 2009 12:26 pm

    Searching S. Cal’s news because they too are reporting on her since she was raised there

    the fires:

    “She was very nice,very cordial,” said Evelyn Lloyd, her housemate who lived at the house for about 12 years. “Every girl who ended up in (that) house had a story. She (Huckaby) really didn’t have a story. She was very secretive.”

    At first, Lloyd said she “never detected any depression or craziness or any violent behavior.”

    But then, in 2007, two fires were set at the house just eight days apart. Lloyd was arrested in the first fire on July 20, but the case against her was dismissed. Lloyd said Huckaby might have set her up.

    Huckaby’s S. Cal family:

    Roberta O’Toole, the manager of the homeowners association where the Lawless family lives, said Judy Lawless, Huckaby’s mother, regularly keeps an eye on the neighborhood, alerting neighbors if she sees that officers are about to ticket a car.

    Umm, what kind of role model is that to children -preacher’s wife warning others police were in the area? As if they are the bad guy, you know what I mean?

    from blinkoncrime:

    “At age 18 her boyfriend and best friend move away, parents adopt a baby girl, Huckaby alleges rape. How these incidents unfolded chronologically and by what catalyst will undoubtedly provide a significant window into her behavior going forward.”

    “Both the Cantu family and the family of the 7 year old victim have been advised by the FBI not to speak to reporters. It is not known if Sandra’s family was aware of the incident prior to Sandra’s abduction, but if they were, it would explain why they were adamant they could not confirm her last whereabouts and whether or not she made it there, as it is probable Sandra may have been instructed to stay away from the home.”

    “A source who has spoken directly with this family has confirmed that the responding officer both talked the mother out of filing a missing person’s report while she was missing and a complaint against Huckaby because he smelled alcohol on the breath of the mother

    sad to think the police misread this situation and that Sandra might have been saved if they had delved a little deeper into the other little girl’s disappearance.

  9. paula permalink
    April 22, 2009 1:23 pm

    OMG!! This is the strangest time. All the sociopaths are being exposed. Melissa Huckaby, Bernie Madoff, Casey Anthony, etc. What a terrible, horrifying crime. Even more so because Melissa comes across as somewhat pathetic but she’s begining to sound diabolical. I have often wondered if Casey Anthony committed other really major crimes (murder) and got away with it. There was an article in January on “Zenaida Gonalez and Annie Leigh Downing’s Adventure.” It’s very disturbing but what bothered me most is the fact of the location where they were – where Nicole Ganquzza was found murdered and the references to Nicole’s cell phone and Casey’s lost “black jack.” I’m probably way off base but the thought of other heinous crimes by Casey is a definite probability, just like Melissa Huckaby.

    Paula–I’m assuming you are referring to the theory that Case used the ame “Zenaida Gonzales” in a traffic violation?And that Annie Downing was with her?

  10. histarfish permalink
    April 22, 2009 4:30 pm

    I think that it is typical for killers like melissa to have several crimes before they ultimately kill or get caught.
    I just feel like she did not do this alone.
    I am still holding out that the boyfriend was involved in some way shape or form.

    histerfish–I thought she couldn’t have been acting alone at first. I’m still having trouble understanding what her motive might have been if she acted alone. It just seems more likely that there were others involved and I haven’t given up the thought that a child porn ring might be part of this story.

  11. augie983 permalink
    April 23, 2009 8:27 pm

    Huckaby defense:

    kill the messenger, in this case the pathologist’s autopsy

    Huckaby’s attorneys argued that if the defense had no chance to examine Sandra’s body, Huckaby would have no way to refute the findings on Sandra’s alleged injuries.

  12. augie983 permalink
    April 24, 2009 12:06 pm


    Haven’t heard peep on the hearing (thought it was today) … local “experts” claim her defense still won’t enter a plea today since her defense lawyers have not received the prosecution’s files yet.

    THIS IS CREEPY: breaking news last night in Washington State since the Lawless/Huckaby links are there too.

    Preacher Lane Lawless was the pastor of that church and there was some allegation of sexual abuse to “someone” but they aren’t saying who and they aren’t saying it was him … yet

    Blink on Crime: Pastor Lane Lawless was “born again” in Wenatchee, Washington, at e Eastside Missionary Baptist Church of East Wenatchee, Washington.

    ….. East Wenatchee, police busted a big child pornography ring, operating inside a CHURCH and the pastors house! The wife was also involved.

    Huckaby’s mental health issues:

    STOCKTON (Calif) – Melissa Huckaby told her mental health worker she was doing “very, very well …You know, we really work on some deep, prudent issues,” San Joaquin County mental health worker Margie Valdez told the judge. “She really participates with everything, and that’s really good for her.” ….. less than three weeks before allegedly murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, say court transcripts.

    Thomas Testa, a San Joaquin County deputy district attorney, is considering whether he will take Huckaby’s case to a grand jury – which considers indictments behind closed doors – or put it through a preliminary hearing – which is public.


    The original judge recused himself, according to a tersely worded letter the court published, a move that stems from an old conflict of interest with Huckaby’s prosecutor.

    The new judge has gotten some news print:

    San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus.

    “Lofthus teared up three years ago listening to testimony from the friend of a 22-year-old man stabbed to death in front of a bar. That led defense attorneys to say she showed bias against a pair Jus Brothers Motorcycle Club members convicted in the killing.

    Lofthus, 56, also faltered in an emotional moment on the bench late last year while sentencing convicted serial killer William Jennings Choyce to death for murdering three prostitutes”

    In addition to criticizing her crying in the 2006 biker trial, attorneys representing Jus Brother members Frankie Joe Prater and Robert Kenneth Memory accused the judge of accepting a gift from jurors who had already reached their verdicts.

    The gift – a T-shirt signed by jurors – amounted to a simple gesture, Lofthus responded at the time. And, as for crying, she described it as discretely wiping her nose with a tissue as jurors left the courtroom.

    “I deny that I have any bias or prejudice,” Lofthus said in a written response at the time, stating she refused to step away from the case.

    In the same written response, Lofthus said she wasn’t intimidated when idling motorcycles outside her home woke her up at night. Her husband dialed 911 on a different night, seeing a motorcyclist drive across their lawn.

    A Merced County judge appointed to review the allegations sided with Lofthus. California’s Commission on Judicial Performance reports no public disciplinary action against her.

    When Huckaby, 28, steps into Lofthus’ courtroom Friday for the first time, she’ll confront a judge who receives quiet criticism from some local attorneys and high praise from an unlikely place – the attorney of the only person she’s ever sentenced to death.

  13. augie983 permalink
    April 24, 2009 12:31 pm

    here’s a weird issue:

    the Pastor Roberson up in Washington state and his wife “Connie”….were charged with operating a sex ring in their church, the church where Huckaby’s grandfather is reported as “born again”

    . . . they were acquitted in criminal trial but convicted in CIVIL court when sued by plaintiff/victims in his church.

    the preacher grandfather is Lane Lawless, his wife’s name is “Connie”

    It’s been publicly noted how Preacher Lane Lawless has avoided public appearances, contact with press even in the earliest stages of Cantu being missing….the entire housing complex was being turned upside down and he was “aloof” and distant.

    …. when he has responded (prior to Huckaby being ‘person of interest’ let alone arrested) he would not look up or at people and would just “mumble answers” or speak so quietly he could barely be heard (unlike the average preacher) and ….kept his face down/away from the media …and was particularly quick footed jumping into car or into his home.

    He moved FROM Washington State….and set up his pulpit in Tracy . . .”what if” he’s the same Pastor Roberson with a new name to distance himself from his Washington State legacy . . . with wife named “Connie”

    after all …just the name “Lawless” has freaked people out.

    when he is asked, “Did you have anything to do with Sandra’s disappearance or her death?” he acts like he doesn’t hear or understand the question. Yet he tells us he heard it, because he parrots back what the reporter said.

    He said, ” Did I have…?” in a very slow, subdued voice. It takes him a few seconds to say, “no”, and he says it without any strong inflection in his voice. It’s notable.

    Parroting back is a hot spot for profilers, especially when someone confirms that they heard the question.

    This is often a trait that liars do subconsciously….If you see after Lawless says that, he looks down and appears confused.

    quickly his wife responds, “No, no!”. Why isn’t Lawless, himself, that quick to respond? Why does that question cause him to pause?

  14. augie983 permalink
    April 24, 2009 2:03 pm

    FBI agents visited the “sex ring” church in Washington state because of the connection with Melissa Huckaby’s family via grandfather preacher known as “Lawless” KCRA 3, in Washington State has confirmed.

    It is reported Pastor (we know as) Lawless was affiliated with the church at the time the child sex ring case hit the fan there.

    current photo of “Lawless”

    15 year old (or older) photo of “Roberson”

  15. augie983 permalink
    April 24, 2009 2:52 pm

    Another shocking update (Nancy Grace would scream “BOMBSHELL”)

    Folsom, CA– As Melissa Huckaby awaits her arraignment in court this afternoon in San Joaquin County,

    the arrest last week of Timothy John Lawless, a relative to Huckaby and the Lawless family. Folsom Police Department verified this afternoon Lawless was arrested on April 15.

    Timothy John Lawless is in jail being held for Rape with a foreign object……
    in news found:

    Lawless, Timothy – (M/W) – Age 44
    Folsom, CA 95630-2718 Verified Address
    Reported: 04/15/2009 by Arrest Reporter No. 7205
    Residing in Arrest Zone: Fair Oaks, Folsom & Roseville
    Arrest Report No. 3768894
    Source: Folsom PD
    F PC289(J) Rape By For. Obj.: (V) Under 14

    IDENTICAL charges without the “murder” to cap it off!

  16. Sahar permalink
    April 24, 2009 3:06 pm

    Hi mom! (that’s augie) and Mystery and the devoted readers!

    the Preacher…Clifford Lane Lawless church in Washington…the Preacher known as Robert Roberson and his wife Connie skated from a conviction at criminal trial:

    prosecutors did convict 28 people affiliated with the church while Mr and Mrs took a hike.

    Am beginning to think those initial rumors of a child porn ring and Melissa Huckaby are coming true. If that Melissa (and others) were raised around the issue and the resulting trial, it could have embedded some seriously damaging mindsets for Melissa and the other Lawless relatives growing up.

    Wonder if they’ve confirmed this Timothy Lawless as a relative of Pastor Lawless.

  17. Elise permalink
    April 24, 2009 3:43 pm

    The Roberson preacher and wife Connie: said the only reason they were swept up in the child sex ring criminal charges was – wait for it –

    “because they spoke up AGAINST another child sex ring investigation”

    If that Tim Lawless is related to this Huckaby Lawless family, the entire family needs quarantined from society.

  18. itsamysterytome permalink*
    April 25, 2009 10:21 pm

    augie–I don’t think Lawless and Roberson are one and the same. I’ve been> studying pictures and their noses are drastically different. Although, Roberson has a distinctive cleft or scar on his chin and a protrusion (clear mole maybe) on his face when you enlarge his phot and Lawless has a beard and moustache so it’s impossible to tell if he has the same. Can’t find a picture of Roberson’s Connie to compare to Lawless’ wife.

    Sahar–Augie is your Mom? She’s been a great addition to this blog!

    I agree with you that this may turn into a major porn ring.

  19. itsamysterytome permalink*
    April 25, 2009 10:21 pm

    Elise–This is almost unbelievable!

  20. webdt permalink
    April 26, 2009 12:50 pm

    Please someone tell me that Melissa will pay for her crime. I am heart broken over this. I remember when I first saw the news and Sandra being missing and I prayed for her and have had a hard time with her death. This woman and anyone even remotely involved needs to fry!!!!! I hope to God that there will be justice for that sweet little girl. I don’t want to hear that Melissa was a victim when she was younger because she is still alive and Sandra is not. I was kind of hoping that Sandra was over drugged in her death instead of something terrifying and painful and I fear it must have been bad for judge to react how she did and defense attorney also. I think that Melissa should be allowed to stand in the street of Tracey and be stoned to death! yet, that still wound not satisfy me. I do hope that Sandra’s family can keep their memory of Sandra as I will a happy one now as she is in heaven way too early but away from the evil here on earth. Also, I am a woman a mother and I am on the thinner side and can lift 75lbs or so when I need to so I think she could have pulled this off on her own she is a big girl and she has shown she knows how to cover up lies when she thinks she will get into trouble. I automatically assumed it was a man but my gut feeling is she was totally responsible she has no remorse texting lol, trying to swallow razor blades? she basically has admitted her guilt and too quick to talk to reporters. Not only is she an evil woman but a dumb one at that. I do, however, believe that grandma and grandpa knew something happened and they are kind of creepy too. Again, I just want Sandra to have her justice. She didn’t do anything to deserve this. I hope her family is doing ok. I pray for them everyday.

  21. cindmo permalink
    April 29, 2009 1:24 am

    Please do not slaughter me, BUT I am from Wenatchee and I can tell you FOR SURE there was a extremely bent DA that put a lot of innocent people in jail for child sex crimes, including my parents dear friends. They were exonerated years later after serving several years in prison, and having their children taken away by CPS, but too late for their family. Dateline did a report on this entitled “Witch Hunt in Wenatchee”, go check it out…MANY innocent people were sent to prison, and anyone who spoke up got allegations brought against them too. I was there, my mom was terrified. It really happened. Not saying anything specific to Huckabee, he could be innocent or guilty, just withhold judgment as the whole picture isn’t available.

  22. Jocelyn permalink
    May 1, 2009 11:28 am

    Hello, I’m new to this board. But this church is a part of a religious sect known as Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB). This is a wider network of churches across the US- that are all interconnected. I was born and raised within this group and it is becoming more well known for child molestation and horrific physical abuse of children. If you would like more information about the abuse scandals/history of these churches please feel free to visit my website:

    Many survivors from this sect/cult are coming forward to talk to police and the FBI of the horrors they faced as children. We are doing our best to spread the word to bring public accountability to this group.

    Latest Info:

  23. itsamysterytome permalink*
    May 3, 2009 7:31 pm


    at this time, it seems that all fingers point to Melissa as Sandra’s killer, and I’m hoping, as you are, that this will be proven without a doubt at her trial. If there are others involved, I hope that will be revealed as well. Sandra Cantu does deserve justice.

  24. itsamysterytome permalink*
    May 3, 2009 7:35 pm

    cindmo–I did read about the “Witchhunt in Wenatchee”.

    There has not been a lot put out there by LE concerning Melissa Huckabee’s guilt or innocence. With the gag order we probably won’t learn much new until the trial. I agree that until that time it’s all just rumors and innuendos, but she certainly appears to be guilty at this point.

  25. itsamysterytome permalink*
    May 3, 2009 7:38 pm


    Sorry!–You got caught in my spam because of the links you added. I will check them out and post on it later. There is something really strange about this case, IMO.

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