MANTECA — Melissa Huckaby, the Tracy woman accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, has been described as a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher and single mother of a 5-year-old.
A woman with the same name who lives 14 miles away also is a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher and single mother of a 5-year-old.
The improbable similarities have created inevitable confusion.
News crews keep calling or approaching Melissa Huckaby of Manteca looking for the woman accused of killing Sandra. So many people posted threatening messages on her MySpace page, the misidentified Huckaby said she canceled her account.
"I get death threats all the time," Manteca's Huckaby told the Tracy Press. "I've had news vans at my house. My picture has been all over the media. I'm honestly scared for my safety."
Her relatives say the arrest of the Tracy woman has put an unwelcome spotlight on them, too. Pat Huckaby, an uncle who lives in Tracy, said his three sons dread going back to school after spring break because of their locally infamous surname.
Manteca's Huckaby and her parents, with whom she lives along with her children, said they are speaking about their ordeal in hopes of clearing up the matter.
"All it takes is for one person to take matters into their own hands," Cyndi Huckaby said of the unfortunate coincidences between her daughter and the woman accused of killing Sandra. "All of a sudden our lives are turned around. And it's not our fault."
Tracy's Huckaby is being held without bail at a San Joaquin County jail.
The other Huckaby said she has spoken to co-workers, the staff at her children's day care center and members of her church.
"So everyone in my life knows about the mix-up," she told the Tracy Press. "I just want everyone else in the country to know."