MANTECA, Calif. – Melissa Huckaby, the Tracy woman accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering a neighbor girl, 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 is also a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher and single mother of a 5-year-old.
The improbable similarities have created inevitable confusion.
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News crews keep calling or approaching Melissa Huckaby of Manteca looking for the woman accused of killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. And so many people posted threatening messages on her MySpace page that the misidentified Huckaby says 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 have 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.
She and her parents, with whom she lives along with her children, said they are speaking out 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 told the Press, of the unfortunate coincidences between her daughter and Sandra's alleged killer. "All of a sudden our lives are turned around. And it's not our fault."
Huckaby, the murder suspect, is being held without bail at a San Joaquin County jail.
Meanwhile, the other Huckaby said she has spoken to co-workers, the staff at her children's daycare and members of her church about the situation.
"So everyone in my life knows about the mix-up," she told the Press. "I just want everyone else in the country to know."