Woman arrested in murder of Sandra Cantu

I have not been following the story, however I did find who the police suspect killed Sandra to be rather interesting. When I heard on the news that a suspect had been found, the only thing reported was that it was a Sunday school teacher. No one on the news casts I watched mentioned that the suspect is female:

Melissa Huckaby, a 28-year-old Sunday School teacher, was on suicide watch Saturday at the San Joaquin County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. The girl’s body was found in one of Huckaby’s suitcases in an irrigation pond nearly a week ago, police said.

[Sgt. Tony] Sheneman said investigators have no motive for the slaying, which drew national attention. Police declined to say where or how the girl was allegedly killed. Inconsistencies in Huckaby’s story led to her arrest, Sheneman said.

What is somewhat ironic is that the police engaged in a greater effort to investigate the men in the community, which could have wasted time. Had the police been more open to all suspects from the outset rather than questioning Huckaby after exhausting all other usual suspects, they might have been able to save Sandra’s life.

It is unusual to hear about women kidnapping and killing children. That is not to say that it does not occur. There are hundreds of missing children and it would be preposterous to assume that only or overwhelmingly men kidnap all of those kids. Technically speaking, it is far easier for a woman to commit this kind of crime because women are not likely going to be suspected.

However, the article makes an expected claim:

FBI statistics show women are involved in just 7 percent of murders of any sort. Solo killings of children by women are even more unusual.

“A review of data from the 2007 Uniform Crime Report confirms that the arrest of Melissa Huckaby in the Sandra Cantu murder investigation is uncommon,” said FBI spokesman Steve Dupre in Sacramento.

Women may make up a small percentage of those who murder, however, the FBI statistics suggest that women, particularly mothers, commit the majority of child murders. Perhaps the non-parental offenders are mostly male. That is a possibility, particularly as it does statistically appear to be true that most people who kidnap and kill children are male. However, according to the FBI statistics mothers acting alone make up 27.4% and the non-parental and missing/unknown perpetrators make up a collective 24.1%. Again, it is possible that the latter stat includes more males than females, but based on the statistics as presented by the FBI it is also possible that the same nearly 2 to 1 ratio (with women murdering more children than men) applies to those groups as well.

The data from the 2007 Uniform Crime Report does not appear to confirm that Huckaby’s arrest is uncommon, not unless Dupre was speaking in general about women committing murder. The report does not list the murders by the victim’s age along with the perpetrator’s gender, so it does not confirm that women killing children is uncommon. The report does confirm that women make up a small percentage of the people who murder (they also make up a small percentage of murder victims).

Another conclusion is reached:

“It’s very unusual for women to be involved in an abduction and murder of a child,” said Candice DeLong, a retired FBI profiler based in San Francisco. “Sometimes we see this when the woman is working with a male partner. It does not appear to be the case this time. But this was not a sexually motivated crime.”

DeLong is not involved in the investigation and technically has no basis for claiming that the crime was not sexually motivated, particularly given that no information about the autopsy has been made pubic yet. It is possible that this was an accidental death. However, it is more likely that it was deliberate and it is quite possible that it was sexually motivated. Unless Huckaby used an object to assault the little girl, no signs of sexual abuse would be visible. That would not mean, however, that it did not occur.

Fortunately, Huckaby is being held without bail. It is typical in cases involving accused women to be granted bail, and low bail at that, regardless of the severity of the crime. At the moment is it unclear why Huckaby did this, if for no other reason than she does not have a history of committing violent crimes. More likely than not her attorney will say she suffers from some mental disorder and there is, unfortunately for the family, a good chance that Huckaby will walk (assuming she committed the crime) because she is a woman. That said, given the coverage this case has gotten, if Huckaby does gets the usual woman-pass it might help change the social norms that excuse female violence. We may see female violence against children taken more seriously rather than being written off as mental instability.

7 thoughts on “Woman arrested in murder of Sandra Cantu

  1. What is somewhat ironic is that the police engaged in a greater effort to investigate the men in the community, which could have wasted time.

    Standard Operating Procedure.

    When a crime is committed, whether the victim is a child or not, the criminals gender is assumed to be male. While not solid evidence notice on most crime drama shows the perp is always referred to as “he” from get go.

  2. Thanks. The numbers do not surprise me. Statistically speaking, when are more likely to murder children than men.

  3. Please MEN are the overwhelming rapists, murderers and pedofiles in this counrty. They wasted thier time investigating the men? Ya becasue it is almost ALWAYS men that rape and kill children!!!!!!!!! You spit out facts and then claim men are being persecuted because in this case (and very few others) a women was the piece of trash that murdered someone’s child. Atleast take responsibilty for the facts about your own sex. Women murder thier own children it is absolutly rare for a women to kidnap and rape a child and you saying that all those kids can’t be taken by just men is ludicris. Women are more likely to murder children is a fact that is distorted becasue women do kill thier own children but they are NOT more likely then men to kill a child as a matter of fact MEN are MORE likely to kill AND molest children. Get your facts right before you put out any more propaganda involving distorted untrue facts that deny the truth about men being the perpetrators and preditors in this world cause not only are you lieing to everyone that reads this post you are LIEING TO YOURSELF too

  4. Please MEN are the overwhelming rapists, murderers and pedofiles in this counrty.

    According to a 2005 study, women make up 40% of the rapists and pedophiles who assault males and 6% of the perpetrators who assault of females. More likely than not, those are probably low estimates, so it is entirely possible and probable that women are half the rapists and pedophiles in this country. As I noted in the article, according to the FBI’s statistics, women kill and abuse the majority of children, mothers making up the largest percentage of child murderers, 27.4%.

    It is understandable that one would not like to view one’s sex as potential perpetrators of violence against children, particularly given that assaulting a child is the height of cowardice and is in no way justifiable. However, based on the available data it would appear that women commit just as much, if not more, emotional, physical and sexual violence against children as men. The only difference is that as a society we are more inclined to excuse, downplay or — as you do — ignore female violence. I would suggest reading the links provided to get a better understanding of the reality of the situation. While it may be unpleasant reading, it will certainly be edifying.

  5. Pingback: A Special Report: Raped by His Mother – A Victim Comes Forward « Toy Soldiers

  6. Pingback: Melissa Huckaby pleads guilty to murder « Toy Soldiers

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