« True Murder: The Most Shocking Killers

SEARCHING FOR SANDRA-Stacy Dittrich

2013-04-03 | 🔗
Where was Sandra? Across the country, parents watched with growing panic as the surveillance video was replayed on the evening news: a young girl in black leggings and a Hello Kitty t-shirt, skipping alone through the mobile home park where she lived. Her bouncing steps carried her quickly across the screen and beyond the camera's view-just two weeks after she celebrated her eighth birthday, Sandra Cantu disappeared. Within days, panic gave way to horror when investigators reported that Sandra's neighbor, 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby, had been arrested and charged with the rape and murder of the young girl. Sandra's death at the hands of a trusted adult female sent a powerful message to parents everywhere: The days of warning against "Stranger Danger" are long gone, having been replaced by an even darker era where stereotypes no longer exist and families can never be sure who to trust. SEARCHING FOR SANDRA-THE STORY BEHIND THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SANDRA CANTU-Stacy Dittrich
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Good evening. This is your host Dan Umansky for the pro true murder, the most shocking killers in true crime, history and the authors have written about them. Where was Sandra across the country parents watched and growing panic with the Quicksilver card from capital one. You earn unlimited one point: five percent cash back on every purchase, unlimited, unlimited, unlimited head on limited or limited anyway. You say it Ernie, unlimited one point: five percent cash back on every purchase just sounds good capital, one. What's in your wallet, what's in your wallet senior while and capital one bank USA Na as their surveillance video
We played on the evening news a young girl in black leggings and a hello kitty, T shirt skipping alone through the Mobile Home Park Park, where she lived her bouncing steps carried her quickly across the screen and beyond the cameras view. Just two weeks after she celebrated her eighth birthday Sandra disappeared, disappeared within days. Panic gave way to horror when investigators report that Sandridge neighbor twenty eight year old, Melissa Huckabee had been arrested and charged with the rape and murder of the young girl, Sandra's death.
At the hands of a trusted. Adult female sent a powerful message to parents everywhere the days of warning against stranger danger or long gone, having been replaced by an even darker era, where stereotypes no longer exist and families can never be sure who exactly to trust the book that we're profiling profiling this evening is searching for Sandra the story behind the disappearance of Sandra Cantu, with my special guest journalist and author Stacey Dietrich, welcome to the program, Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Stacey Detric, Hi Dan. Thank you so much for having me on well. Thank you very much. This is I've been
when this for a little over three years now this is in, and this is a unique story, even though I think we ve probably covered everything. This is quite unique and I think obviously the story was huge in American. Worldwide, almost everybody can relate to this end. You ve brought this story home with this fascinating book. So, let's, let's start off with just a little bit. I think it's important, maybe could tell us a little bit about your background because as a journalist and other, but give us a little bit about your background that We will see a little bit later, isn't very important to this story. Well, actually, then, I've been in law enforcement for twenty one years time. Currently sheriff at the Richmond County Sheriff's office in Mansfield, Ohio, the former detective that specialize in sexual assault crimes,
you know I'm currently on the job. This was a story basically I started writing about five years and actually started out in fiction because of my back Essentially what had happened is is when my agent was shopping. You know my fiction. Areas around. They were coming back and saying. Oh, my gosh Police officer you know, can we get her to do you know these specific cases? You know it would be great to be coming from an aspect of somebody who knows how the investigations were and what not enough, how I ended up down this path, this particular book the can suit case. What had happened is I had wrote another true crime, that's actually coming out after this,
it's called. Have you seen me and it's a compilation of the nation's most prolific, child murders and abduction dating back to the eighteen hundreds? a compilation of those cases that have real. We changed our laws and tighten our child abduction laws and what not- and you know I just have to touch on that- because just some crazy stuff that You know, personally, I didn't even know about, was you know, every day you hear about child duction and people saying you know this world is so crazy. It's not like it. Well, you know there are cases that point Lindbergh, the Lindbergh baby option, a murder which people think, oh, that was the crime of the century, will is actually a case thirty years prior to the Lindbergh baby, abduction and murder. That just put this need,
at a standstill and even overseas in Europe. It actually involved. You know the circus promoter, Pt Barnum, and just just amazing that you know even back then when it comes to our children our children are off limits, no matter what and you know, It has been that way since the dawn of time, and it continues to be this way, but that particular book was was just This elevation and escalation of all these child abduction murders that change laws Essentially, I had included the Sandra can suitcase in that book because It was literally deemed a statistical anomaly by the FBI. They literally could not go back in history and find one case where a female solely
without the aid of a boyfriend or conspiring with her boyfriend or whatever, but a female solely abducted, a child rape her and brutally murdered her. They had nothing to compare this to so I included that case in the book and what it is when my agent submitted them. Have you seen me book? The publisher came back and said: yeah we'll do that, but we would like her to write an entire book on the Cancun. I'm at that time. The cancer case was really gathering steam. It was you know it was bouncing off case Anthony it. You know constantly in the media. Melissa had been around and and people just couldn't figure out. I mean at that time. You know I have appeared as a consultant law enforcement, analyst on CNN and Fox NEWS and HLN, and even myself at the time
along with the other talking heads were like there's no way she did this by this boyfriend motivated know, maybe had a from that was a sex offender and she's covering for him. You know we we're all making these outlandish excuses when option
all of us are wrong. Now, let's say wave back for our audience, because we've revealed a little bit here for those who have not known about the center Cantu. We've got fans everywhere in the world, so so them there. People certainly have been listening, and so they don't really know, also take us back and set the stage and tell us what Tracy California was like and we're just talking about. The two thousand and eight, and so we'll just go back to Bob before December- first, two thousand and eight, but tell us the population about eighty thousand. According to the records, tell us wide through sixty miles east of five. I believe of San Francisco tell us about Tracy
when you, what kind of community is it what's that known for? What's that typically feel like set the sort of stage for us for this please? Well, I would you know I I had, I guess, a different picture of Tracy before I got there. I'm looking at you eighty thousand people, which is pretty significant. You know of a suburb, it's actually a suburb of Stockton, California we've just recently seen in the news that is the city in the country to file bankruptcy is, is extremely different than stock. Then you know, I expected bigger city field where in fact you know we on in go in and drove an hour east into the central valley. So it's just you know nothing, but brown hills and and windmills, and then you finally come into.
Civilization again and here is Tracy, and it really has this small town feel to it, and I didn't expect that with city that had a population of that, but it really is a very quiet. Small town feel they just had a brand new police chief come in and I think she season was a police you somewhere in Kansas. And had only been, the chief of police in Tracy just a few short months before Sandra can he was kidnapped. And you know treaty was very quiet community. You know that the only have their share of clients, but, for the most part nothing significant.
And in the months leading up to the disappearances standard can sue they. They took a one. Two three punch like no department in the world could ever prepare them for sure. So what happened on December? First, two thousand and eight to shake up the police just for the beginning, just the beginning of some gritty very dark days and tell us about what happened on December. First, two thousand and eight The Shepherd boy- yes, the shackle boy case, essentially. And we that that was a high profile. You know that that appeared on the news, but he was kind of scratching their head What happened is a local fitness gym? You know they're going about their day to day operation and out of the blue.
Boy that they thought was like ten years old comes running in their complete, emaciated and he's got shackles he's in his underwear he's filthy handcuff shackles on them and he runs into this gym framing for help and what It happened ultimately as he was. Than that, but due to the emaciation, these people thought that was a little and through Tracy's investigative efforts they track where this boy was being held. I'm sorry Dan. Trying to get my foggy memory back it. Basically, what would he would my own book, but I think believe you is a run away, but he was picked up by a couple on my way. May eventually-
back and held him captive and tortured and store it. Kid from mine, and you know the treaty police Department obviously just couldn't even believe the story there like no. This doesn't happen here. And when they eventually located the home that he had been held in and the conditions were just utterly rancid. They just had never up into that point for them, They just had never seen anything like that. It was a really horrific case yeah. It was Michael Luther Schumacher and his wife Kelly
Lane, hello, thirteen counts, the star of gyms and forced to drink alcohol. Do drugs, beat him with belts and baseball bats and stabbed him and burned him and shackle them to a fire place for eighteen months yeah. This is very, very unusual. This is not typical for anywhere, so this is an amazing story, and just when that's not just December two thousand and eight, and then we have in March again something that really close to home as a law enforcement person, tell us about and tell us and introduce to Tony Shanaman too, because he's very central figure in this as well is internal affairs, investigation and media media relations so tell us about him, please. He and in is no less,
then an amazing amazing person, and you know I I just want to throw out there- that the treaty Police Department and San Joaquin District Attorney's office. It is really one of the most impact and packable law enforcement agencies. I've ever come across date. You know, I, I can't speak highly enough. They were so cooperative with me. They are so professional, they're, so thorough and they're extremely good at what they do. You know, and I obviously dealt with many law enforcement agencies through my career, but I was very intrigued by them. But partition. Gentlemen, is the public information officer, and- you know we're cop. You know we all and together every year and do some fun stuff or whatever, and on this particular day they did the polar Bear or was it the special Olympics? Something was at this portal.
It in within was a polar bear after that, your and we do that here, which essentially to raise Money for charity you strip down your one. When it's cold and you go in the lake and he had stated- You know they had participated, that in that for years, went back their hotel room and were cold and tired. And their phone started ringing, and you know this. This was the night. The Oakland police murders where, basically for Oakland Police officers, lost their lives from a rope shooter, which is that time. This is, of course, prior to Christopher Dorner, who is the largest mass shooting of police officers in California, history and they immediately pack their bags and slept back to Tracy, because you know A lot of you know. Police officers
San Francisco Bay area of wind and and whatever and an annex no different here in Colombia, is now urea. Those the cities are expensive, citysearch expenses to live in and cop, you know notoriously, do not make a lot of money, so police officers tend to go to outer suburbs. As much as an hour hour and a half away to make the lifestyle that they can be no keep up with one of these lane, Oakland officers was sergeant Mark Dunnigan, who happens. Be a neighbor of sergeant German you know he was devastated. You know bad coached soccer, together with their kids and whenever so sorry General Sheridan was was a big part and planning sergeant, Donigan funeral. You know they have this huge procession from Oakland.
Which, like I said it is about an hour and The irony of this whole thing is you, ve got the shackled boy and on the day of sergeant, marked gonna cans funeral arm, you know you, ve got half the city of trees lying the street to the Tracy module for this huge, huge funeral procession of this plane officer it, was literally during the time of sergeant die. Can funeral is a day and time that can't you was taken now you, It was around four p m that afternoon. So, while the city is lined up, while this sad chapter in Tracy history is unfolding and not unfolding,
this is a funeral and the Memorial Sandra to just a little past. Eight years old is playing with friends in a mobile phone. She had. She was obedient girl and, and rule was not to go outside the mobile part, but she had told her mother Maria shatters that she was gonna go to neighbour's house. It was a new girls in the neighborhood and in the new home and she was gonna go over there, but her mother told her make sure you're back for dinner, so we're talking about four p m. Take it from there. She tell us a little bit about Sandra can't do she's living with quite a few family members tell us a little bit about Santa. Can two in her family and what was going on that day. Well, typically, you know if they have lived with her grandparents, her mother and her brothers and sisters in that in a trailer park which literally
literally is a stones throw from the mausoleum, which is where sergeant donkin was insured and ultimately Sandra herself. She could Walk to the front of the trailer park and literally probably watch this procession go down, but on that particular day Sandra her. Her grandfather typically picked her up from which wasn't far away. On that day, she came home. She had a snack macaroni and cheese, which I believe is very significant. And Sandra was known in the park as being a very outgoing from My little girl people would comment that you know they'd be out doing yard, work and Sandra would come getting along and be like. Oh
Can I help you, water, your plants or do this and I hate to say that there was almost a sadness to it, but that was relayed to me from some people that they You know being there were so many family members in the trailer that Sandra just wanted to get out. And you know, talk to people and be social with people and ultimately there nearing the to bury surgeon done again is when the video of Sandra skipping down the street was shot and that significant, because Sanders Grandfather, they had had some issues with vandalism or whatnot, so he hadn't installed surveillance cameras on the front of their trailer the last thing we see a Sandra is she is lit early smiling and she skipping
down her road right in front of her own home as if she going home and then to the right. Something distract and she bears off to the right- leaves the frame and obviously to the right is Melissa. Huckabees, trailer, Melissa, huge livery across the street yeah now tell us about Melissa Huckabee. This is an interesting background, as well there's her grandparents. She lives with her grandparents as well. Rachel is tell us about the religious connection here church the church tell us about Melissa, be she said what that at that age, at that that time, twenty six, I believe or twenty twenty twenty. I think she's but yeah Melissa lived with her
and parents who her grandfather happened to be a pastor at a Baptist church, which literally sat next door to the trailer park and I didn't have didn't job a frequently. But you know to the church on Sundays and taught the kids for Sunday school Daughter was five at the time of the murder and Melissa had a really really shaky history up and Then she was, you know, constantly getting fired from jobs, job she was having you. Relationship problem whenever she would To date, a man she would ultimately file a civil protection order, claiming he was abused. Her she had. Actually gone into criminal justice.
Did right along with the Tracy Police Department. That's ironic! Yes, she was a suspect in R. Down in Orange County where she has lived, and some really significant to me that the investigating detective TIM Bower said was that Melissa could not and would not be in a three party relationship? She would not do it. If she the guy and he had the best friend that he hung out with she would put the Cabash on that. If it go her way, then she would start causing and following restraining orders, then you know her ex husband with even their own child giant Huckabee. She turned away, the attention given to their own daughter, Madison. And just just very soon
You know, like I said she accused the police officer of raping her, which turned out to be completely unfounded. Melissa had to be the center of attention, in any circumstance that would in whether work, whether the trailer park, no matter what it had to be about melissa- and you know, if it wasn't, you know there are consequences to pay. Was there any psychiatric evaluation? Was there any terms in a mental facility? Was she diagnosed with any was she under any prescription from any any amount of time? Tell us about that. If any background was. I believe that she at one point- and this is terrible to offer going to question the reader can't help me out since you diagnosed with five
polar disorder. Um. And regularly taking mad, but she had you know where she would cause harm herself and swallow razor blades and be hospitalized and you know what was really significant is all these. You know red flags popped up after she graduated high school and I talked, her family and they were very like well. We would have never a million years thought or saw this coming. And it's like really Now all these, I and I actually get into extreme detail in the book on prior circumstances where Melissa has shown know clearly that she's, unstable and her parents, basically because of her instability, shifter up to trace, to live with
grandparents, interesting. We knew something was wrong with her. They they knew. You know and even to keep her own child I mean I'm not a grandparent, I have daughters- and you know seriously- I would ever got for see one of my children as adults behaving in the manner that she I would do whatever I could to get my grandchild, and but they their solution to this was to ship more to her grandparents, trailer in Tracy, California. Ok, let's go back now because there's a little thing missing all the gram up, what
happens to the to Maria Chevez in the family, the grandparents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and then the entire community to friends and everyone that they know, and then everyone, the audience becomes part of the grieving family will say of sorts now. Tell us about four p pm she was supposed to be in for dinner, come home for dinner. What happens she just doesn't come home for dinner. So then what happens? Will who goes out? What happens exactly give us the a logical order of events after four hundred pm or so ok will she leave, and you know she goes out like she did every day it was you know a routine and she stops at one trailer, they fear, and you know just as her little social saying that she does an and people always read, remember,
and only because, like I touched on before, she was just very happy, Little girl and just wanted to talk to people and interact with people, and at that point she was supposed to be back for I believe it was around six fish and she didn't show up and at that point, I believe it was Sandra, siblings, went out looking for her. That, ultimately, did not find her at that point Maria Chavez, the nine one. One call to the Tracy Police Department that her daughters, nothing any anytime. We missing children. We are extremely in our response time and first and foremost, and I can't tell you how many times that I've done that we search
how how literally laundry basket cover whatever we- and I just want to throw this out there. I, as a good friend of mine and a fellow deputy, was working that day and we got dispatch to in the child and it turned out to be his house. Imagine him driving home. You know he about. And we were all going through that home with a fine tooth comb for twenty minutes and couldn't find this little girl there upon pioneer. By I mean he is just sobbing broke down sobbing and one of the deputies yeah there's the playroom with all these dolls lying around and she was just a little bitty thing- I think a year and a half at the time and finally, when the deputies in a player look down like, oh, my God, love of God, she's asleep on the floor. We all thought she doll yeah, all I mean that's how tricky it can get with the missing children, but ultimately,
and in Sandra's case you know they did what they were supposed to do. They showed up, they check the trailer the bad thing is is what the detect that's me, and True and people may not like that. I say this, but he said you could swing a bat in that trailer park and hit a pedophile or somebody with child pornography. And that kind of amped up the investigation kind of heightened it specifically because Sandra was not in her home, not at any in the fire that she had been and had never not shown up before it was completely out of character. So, basically you know at the time the first responders uniformed patrolman are searching this trailer park. There talking
and mom, and what not and you know what I write in the book was sergeant Tony Sherman, the Pio that his help organize sergeant, Donita. Funeral was that he was exhausted. You know from the shackles boy case to the funeral that same day literally just came home and just peel this closed off and in bed and it was just a matter of hours his phone rang and- was one of the officers. That said, I think we got a problem here and he said you know, you just lay there and you're exhausting you think this just can't happen like this. You know three times in a row and-
He got out of bed and an went to the scene, an realized, my god, you know this is this is bad. This is really bad and it was just that constant chain of events that this department in this community had gone through so backed back that everybody was just on totally on heightened alert. Now we talk about you talk extensively in the book that normally within twelve hours, the cases are usually resolved one way or another and with luckily, unfortunately, a lot of these
it's our are found within the range of ours. What consequently were as a result after twelve hours? It's these are not looking at this very optimistically. Now you say the the the search was extensive and you touched on the sex offenders that were again. Please said: there's a bunch of them in in in this trailer park alone here. So that was what what how extensive this truck. I mean this search was you talk about? He went through all the sex offenders, then you went down the possible pathways. A school pathways give us how extensive this search really was well, like I said this community was amazing I I'm not going to lie and say I don't know that that would happen here, It was like instantaneous But the word got out. There was a huge mix up of.
An email or a fax sent to local media. Apparently the police department had an old, fax number. So the media didn't get it right away, but essentially word about bread through Tracy, and you had volunteers coming out by the hundreds and essentially what happens in a missing kid case is like I said you will and initially we full thorough search of the home, and you will that you're your ground, zero and you take it from there. You know any friends or anybody. Sex offenders, you know, if I'm an officer and there's a sex offender, three doors down from child, I'm going to call their probation officer because probation officers don't need search warrants. They can search the house, I'm going to say, give me death. That's all there is to it
Most sex offenders if they literally aren't they're like come on in they think they're. You know they're like on answer to my house. I didn't do anything and then of course you got so many here, In ponds and canals, and things around, that particular area, which is always a huge concern for law enforcement, and you know, Melissa was not even a thought and those those first three days they were searching their the one point I believe one of them volunteers found a small t shirt in the landfill and they really started to focus in on fell, but you know what ultimately Melissa. You know wanting to be this. Our attention that she is, she you know,
jumped yourself right in there as usual and drew attention to herself so, but it was just unbelievable unbelievable. They had search and rescue from other counties and national search and rescues, and everybody was basically searching for Sandra. You know that that full city um one way or another, took an active part, an end looking for this little girl now, on April. Sixth, this Jose Luis Luis Franco discovered a suitcase in one of the ponds you were just speaking about and it contained the suitcase and then he was working at a dairy farm. So tell us what they discover on April. Six
basically- and I have pictures of this farm in the book. But you know I personally one out there and stood the bank were her remained for found. It is so incredibly secluded, very peaceful, and obviously, since that happened just this Irina's, you know Standing out there about a mile and a half from the trailer park and you've got these irrigation ponds that have you know we in methane and and what not so the dive teams could not search these irrigation on. You know for totally but work to the officers, the diet-
But essentially he was driving, you know he would check the pons and do his daily duties and he happened to see something. In the middle of one particular irrigation pond. He had been watching the news. Obviously he, like, I said the whole community. The whole nation was aware of what was going on. He was concerned for his children. He actually said he would not allow his children to play in the front yard. Ever since Sandra can't you disappeared and he was able to pull the suitcase to the bank, it was, it was a large You know one of those larger suitcases. And it had, you know court wrapped around it and when he pulled it up, he was able to.
Determine that. Oh, my god, I his first thought was: oh god, I hope this little girl isn't in the suitcase case. She immediately called authorities to out there and I'll tell you it was. It was a long time and again just to reiterate how wonderful the Tracy Police Department You know everybody wanted to you open the suitcase up in the suitcase, but you know they did their due diligence and they took their time and that's what you're supposed to do they process that entire scene before that case would be remove from the bank and ultimately, you know and tragically, the case was transported to the San Joaquin County coroner's office, and that is where it was. And that where it was that's where it was determined,
it held the remains of Sandra can to now. They were doing other things like looking at, like you say they had video surveillance just because the the the grandfather had hooked up a video camera after they have the the body, the two. Obviously they do. The autopsy won't look give us the chain of events that lead to Melissa's. The discover that Melissa will be a suspect in this. How do they make that connection from this evidence? Tell us how please proceed from here. Well, like I said, Melissa, pretty much inserted her cell any investigation there were cracks. Actually, a memorial service with hundreds upon hundreds of people to the entrance of the of of the trailer park connects with the fourth Sanders body was found.
There were FBI agents and cops all over just observing the crowd and, and there was literally no win that day. And Melissa. Well, find the note just lying on the ground. That said, can sue in suitcase At the Chevy in Whitehall Road, well, she runs an FBI agent, absolutely miracle, oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god, look what I found. Obviously that was five. What somebody just drops this! Between two trailers, they wouldn't put it on a car. What not so that their interest a little bit they went back and interviewed her. And
ultimately, Melissa actually reported her suitcase stolen. She had said that she had this huge Eddie Bauer Suitcase in front of our house, and it was stolen and a reporter from the Tracy Press found out that she had reported reported calls her and Melissa is like yeah that, with my few case that was stolen. While little did she know up until this point I had already been Tracy Police and FBI already had had already wired. Was his phone call and we're monitoring her phone calls? Also because she had had swallowed razor, blades and gone to the hospital they all So realize that in January. In January three months before Sandra Cantu went insane the same a little
been robbed and that trailer park and park, and she with more with Melissa, Huckabee. And we for Whatever reason, the investigators Looking at the mother did the kid accidentally die to the mother's medication, or whatnot they called children, services Melissa was never even questioned. Even though he said Melissa took me to They got me a water and the water tasted funny. And that little girl had the same drugs in her system that Sandra Sandra can't you had flash flash to the beginning of March three weeks before Sandra can't. You was abducted, he didn't murdered, had a boyfriend by the name of Daniel found man who ultimately broke up with her.
She had asked him to meet her, so they can discuss the nature of their relationship. The following morning, Daniel was found in his car in a parking lot and arrested for DUI. He was found to have these same drugs. The over on January and then the day of the jeans that he had a system and standard can't you had in the system. Not remember anything, he remembered Melissa, giving him something to drink, so you know they start to pull all this together and, ultimately, a search on Melissa's computer after she was arrested. This was so premeditated She had looked up waterways and ponds in San Joaquin County. She had researched the sex offenders in
San Walking county. She had actually pulled up a CNN article of a and I believe it was in Israel that murdered his his child, put her in a suitcase and dumped upon. This was was all on his computer. She was clearly planning looking or an alibi I believe that girl in January, was a test case to see how the drugs would affect her when she drugs her the Ex boyfriend Daniel Plowman at the beginning of March. That was her
getting it on record that he had those drugs in the system. I believe that Melissa was trying to set up Daniel Plowman for Sandra murder to get back at him because he broke up with her and, on top of all this, she hated Sandra. She hated her Sandra represented everything that her daughter wasn't Sandra was a beauty little girl she had nice clothes. She come over to play with Melisa Daughter, Madison and say: oh, you know look at my nice new shirt. Madison was very introverted was not a cute little girl. I hate to say that, and once her she really hated her, and that is just my opinion that she had and all this from January. She wanted to take wanted to get rid of Sandra. Wayne Daniel in the process an end
he figured. It was a double bonus, get rid of both of them because they both wrong turn some way. That's what I believe. No, I'm I'm listening to your your theory in and then you're giving credible evidence to specially with the what you've outlined in the book and what what did you just mentioned? What I want to ask was is: do you believe that was why she our committed the sex offenses against Sandra to sort of lead police away from again he'd, like you say, this is never. The FBI has no rest of F B. I has no record of someone abducting sexually assaulting and murdering a child, and it's you know it's quite heinous. What she did this sexual assault, with a rolling pin on this young girl. Do you think that's what we're that's that would account for the sexist
This is a word. Did you find it? Did the police find any evidence with the computer checks that she had any pre election for force of being a sex offender herself yeah? There is a disagreement between the district attorney and a leader get on on. The district attorney believed that Melissa. Had a proclivity towards little girls. I agree with the investigating detective. Absolutely not. This was merely a ploy to to make it.
Like it was a man and I believe, ultimately, to direct it all back to Daniel Cloman, one of the things that Melissa said because, like I said she had taken criminal justice classes and it was just so off the wall she admitted murdering Sandra, but she said extending in court in front of Sandra's mother said I never sexually assaulted her and told the detective when they were investigated interviewing her She goes yes, I accidentally killed her, but I never raped her touched. Her. That's gross. Like Melissa knows that child rapist or are the lowest of society, so she didn't want to be thought of,
as dirty as a child rapist but she's okay, to admit that she quote accidentally murdered Sandra and by accidentally, meaning, Sandra in a suitcase laying there unconscious Melissa got because she crawled in there Melissa is I mean it, Sander came over called in this case the scare what he didn't know she was in there for to the church property. Its case and soft sander their suffocated and then left to get so upset she'd drink this concoction that she, given two other people of the benzodiazepine with water and spit in it, Somehow lands and Sandra Mouth.
I mean it so ridiculous. One of the things that I picked up on is that, his grandmother, found a rag. In the laundry room, the night Sandra went missing and it appeared to be vomit with like Macaroni NEWS and I thought that was very interesting because Sandra eaten macaroni and cheese for her after school snack and to this day, the we detective and and the da they don't know exactly what transpired Howl Melissa got nearer to the church or whatever. But I I honestly think that Melissa probably had this rag soaked with these frogs and and put it over.
Sandra Base and where she vomited on the rag before putting her in the suitcase and transporting her to the church. But you know she also had Sandra News around her neck, she was sexually assaulted. You know it was so brutal. It was so brutal and this woman. She she wouldn't take responsibility, for. She actually stated that she had contemplated putting the suitcase with Sanders body in front of Sanders trailer where her mother could find it. What did the church have to do with this? What what was her idea there or what was actually what was the church connection
could be allowed. She knew nobody was at the church. She had. The keys people saw her across the street, and apparently I didn't think much of it. But you know it was quiet. She knew she wouldn't be disturbed she caught rings off the blinds inside the church use those to tie up a suitcase course. The pin penditure she used to sexually assault Sandra. You know she had a new spine around her neck. That came from the church. There was quite a bit of evidence in the church. This is where it transpired, and generally, I think she took her there because she could be alone. There was no indication that she was using a church to throw some kind of satanic element to it at all. No again we're talking about a kind of deluded person right,
that way, but she went to the church because, because, first of all tat she she knew nobody was supposed to be there going to be there and whatever it she has. She. She could do it and not be disturbed and you disturbed. No one see her doing it. You know giving Sandra Yeah benzodiazepines that she hadn't her System and doing a sexual assault- and you know she actually pulled her pants back up, which was very significant. You know genuinely when you get into these violent child murder rapists, they don't bother to do that and Melissa dressed back up, so that was that was pretty significant in terms of you know we're,
us. She knows exactly what she was doing and you know even the even he goes out and dump the suit case. A local couple, down the road happening be driving by and they don't typically see cars out there. So the gentleman stop- you that are you okay, or what are you doing out here and you know she was just as friendly as, however, she noticed the marine sticker in the back of this diet. Com. Are you in the Marines, my brother's marine? She just the body of an eight year old, into sewage pond And that was her mentality, you know, but she she's not very smart, obviously and you know this was a very, very strong witness ultimately
they had no other option but to take a plea deal of life in prison or you know, there's there no no way around. It was the interview with the abilities name Wadsworth Worth the reporter. Was that useful at all, because its again, you say she answered herself into the investigation, but the person from freight, the Tracy Press. I guess I can remember the newspaper sorry, but that was worth woman. Was that interview useful for police at all, or I should say, for prosecution, that's kind of an interesting, Bulgaria, because I figured it was doktor fill it. You know throw my research Dr Phil Herrado, they had all had her on my this reporter it broke open. The the huckaby case.
And I had actually interviewed her before the lead. Investigator and you know she was claiming she tracked down. Melissa Melissa admitted that that was her suitcase and that she was in the hospital. For swallowing razor blades whatnot, that's what not police to Huckabee was her article that with told article all this that came out in the newspaper the next day and what was really interesting to me is when I I the lead detective. He was pretty pretty negative about all that which I thought. Was awesome, I'm like you say it like it is, but he said you know this reporter actually went and said she did this mess. But by that fine we had already had Melissa on a wire, so her conversation that she wrote about methodical with nothing but a whole being thought so there
from conflict going on there, that you know behind closed doors that people were, thoroughly aware of I was unaware of at which kind of with, though wow moment. For me you know doing research in the book. What I found very very interesting, too, is again always like the personal aspect of people, including themselves in the story and, of course, you a character in this book as well, in a very strong character, and you talk about when you heard about the murder- and you were talking about when you were at, your ass, the expert opinion by tv and radio in any in radio and tv interviews. You are often as like everyone else will you thought you were pretty convince. It was a male offender. Tell us a little clip that you have in your book about your daughter and your daughter kind of arguing with you and it being ironic again, it was because
you know we had between Casey, Anthony and this case here, we're all on the networks. You know giving our expert opinions and you're like well, you know Sandra would see mail was being kissing Sandra if the pool is some before and they really need to look at him- and you know were gone. He now go and there and what we're supposed to do and the day Sandra by was found, and obviously my daughters. No now they watch me when I do commentating and stuff, and I was kind of in shock? You know standing on my living like, oh, my god, I can't believe I I wish what about a better outcome and yes to upsetting same account for a little girl
and they had had initial report satellite pickup truck with two with two were seen, leaving the scene. I like. Oh my god. I hope they catch this monster or whatever, and my daughter was thirteen at the time and she goes how teenagers are with their attitude. She's she's like how do you know it's a he, and I was like we need. How do I know, of course, a the you don't know that I don't like, of course it's a he. What woman would do, something that say she's well, I think it could be a woman. I just think they eat. You, don't know what you're talking about you know real soon, like I do and boy she she didn't. Let me live that down. You know she still pick it up, but I'm like you know what but for you, because I pulled her, I you what we should have been thinking like you do.
You know I and law enforcement. We are so trained from point a to b to c to this to this And this is what we got: look for blah blah blah Gay, our minds are completely open and I am the first to admit that in that's why it's book was so important. You know the FBI, the law enforcement, everybody in San Joaquin and was shocked, because this does not fit the quote, unquote profile. You know this is not. This is not how you put them in a crime. It was almost like being angry at Melissa. You should have done this because we weren't prepared for this. Does that make sense yeah and in law enforcement couldn't have possibly what they realizes that you couldn't possibly profiled her from other offenders behavior, because she's unique in that respect exactly and you are training we're constantly
being trained and one more trains is going to our brain for ten twenty twenty five years and work, unfortunately, almost like robots in that regard, and I hope I sincerely hope that this book, not only to pay you know to say: hey. You know that creepy Pca mom that you think creepy yeah, don't let your kid go down there and make take let's use a little common sense as the days of the stranger dangers are but in terms of law enforcement, I hope that this will also open their eyes that we need to be trained differently that we need to not focus on one particular race, profile and we need to learn to open our eyes I know that that's happened in San Joaquin after this unfortunate case. I just hope that it picks up. You know
nationwide and worldwide yeah and I think to the you know we have sort of an idea of how serial killers are, and I know this has been an education for me and every week I talk to somebody else and I get a more of an understanding at Catherine rambling on last week, and she says you know, there's no real profile. You know these people are very, very different, so at the right to say if this is typical in this is how you identify might look good on tv fiction, but in reality you might not want to jump to conclusions that in any really that that's a very, very telling me because you know most parents have this image, be in their brain of this year, Looking guy with his shirt buttoned up the collar with coke, bottle glasses standing on a street corner holding a puppy,
You know, that's the guy to be scared of cause. He's going to your kid will get what you know: that's that's not it You've got family members. You know you know. Obviously, in my job you see everything. Family members? Cousins? However, the just look, we gotta use common sense you know so many people are medicated with, got a huge mental health issue, and it's just you know his parents, like I said, Melissa was like that, and I say this in the book like that. Noxious neighbor that when you see her coming, you don't answer the door and you hope she doesn't see you. That knows everybody's business She's a little on the weird side, but you know as a parent. If, if you
how have a male or female or that principle that you think a little weird calls calls the said. Your your kid kid above all, offering our home yet now I like make my kids think I am like the most short crazy here. In the world, but you know what you just have he really diligent nowadays and nobody face you. You have to say that yourself. So you say: there's no real way of safeguarding yourself too, because we want to make it sound like this kid was, was left left wild but at the same time, when people move move suburbs will say whether, whether it's trailer park, we have some somebody preconceived idea what trailer parks all are, but there's quite a bit of difference wherever you are and in terms of affluence. But the thing is in in a
We might have the same idea. I mean less so than years ago, where people kind of hung around with each other in the neighborhood we've gone past that but again I know what you're trying to warn against. But what? What exactly could people do? Other? you just kind of scared, the audience a little bit. But what is it? but look at it with a smart. But I mean there is a prime example of ok and I don't mean to scare people, but her parents do anything wrong. Ultimately, this guy Chrome and Romano and took her saying with falling by I try very hard not to it in the case of polish classical far there there is pretty much nothing. You know that it could have prevented that.
Sandra case was a little different. I don't. No, how much me out down. How is it is nice supervision. All I'm saying is, you know My daughter was eight. She was not allowed to run around the neighborhood that this wasn't allowed. Specifically without me, checking on her, and you know. Like I said you can't live your life in a shoe box. You, you can't be scared every day, all I'm saying as human beings for giving this amazing. Or whatever it is called instinct in as a parent. If something does not feel right to you as a parent don't be,
Don't worry about hurting somebody's feelings, trust your instincts, that's the bottom line. You know. I I People- oh gosh. You know I just didn't feel right about that, but I don't want to seem road, hey guess what your child has one life and your instant. Your gut is telling you something is wrong or something's not right. They feel free to go ahead and follow that, because you know. Nine times out of ten you're, probably right and that's basically I'm saying. I'm not saying You know my God block your kid in his room, and seven, don't ever let him out, but just as a parent, if something doesn't seem right here somebody seems a little off to you or you've got red flags popping up in your head. Don't dismiss it! Don't dismiss and say: oh I'm just being paranoid, we live in a small town. Nobody does. Anything around here, don't dismiss it.
Yeah. There is only thing what I what I found and again I it's easy to blame after the Fact- and I don't know the family situation location and I'm sure that we're loving, obviously loving people, but eight years old and I know I know that when I was young, my parents were my mother was over protective but still protective, but over protective and my own daughter was again are you know, maybe could call it sheltered, but eight years old is awfully young to to inner. They was your cousins and may your your sister or you know in a family, and you knew that they were down the street but new friends in the neighborhood and and people in a trailer park in and she's only eight years old. I think that's probably not. Why well about that? Is I look back at my childhood and my brother. I have an older brother and
the summer we left in the morning and literally did not come back until dark, no cell phones, our parents never checked on us, and actually my parents might really. You know we could a you guys are horrible parents. We ran the neighborhood. I mean it was crazy. And. There is just no way I mean my oldest daughter, seventeen. She has her drivers license and she is literally allowed to just to drive into town and back she's, not allowed. You know when I got my driver, license? I was driving to Cleveland and Columbus like within a week and with her it's like now, you're driving five miles to school and back that it's just you know, and my youngest is ten. You know like I said They think we're the worst parents in the world, but doing what we do you know my is not a police officer for twenty three years, I've been doing
for twenty one year and yeah things are, France and. You know I don't I don't know what to say, but you I said you know: basically, it boils down to, parents, don't don't fall into the pressure of society, say I don't want to feel feel I I don't to come off as being paranoid, but this person bothers me and they just give me that Weird feeling you know what again that's your child. Always fall on the air safety. You know, don't if you offend somebody, guess what so, what. You know, so what it's your child knows. Somebody This with my kid I'm coming out with things and claws and I'm sorry
somebody's offended like that. Luckily, I have not come into that situation, but you know it tell me that people they get this mentality, specifically in small town. Where there are you know in my job, yeah the home invasions and the robberies or whatever their doors are unlocked, and you know one of the things I say to them is: why are your doors we've never had any trouble around here. I've left my door unlocked for twenty five years. Well, that's just, and you know when I go pick up my kids from school. I see these little itty, bitty kids, like five years old, walking home the streets are walking on a completely and you know it's meeting me. I look work, I'm thinking, oh my god. Why are know? No, We ran in snatch that little boy, no one would see anything and those are the.
That happens it it's, not the big cities when you see significant child abduction. You'll see a lot of them. Are these smaller town, where the police department is not necessarily educated, or you know not necessarily staffed where they should be. Where these and child molesters are able to you planned in and plan and watch and whatever and go unnoticed. Those are the places that tends to take place in and
What I really want to have like to ride home to people you know don't get complacent. Thank you live in a bubble, yeah those old as the old adage about small town, this in small town. That there's many reasons why people move to a small town and it's not just because they can handle the debauchery of the big city so because a lot of files or sometimes are driven out of city neighborhoods, because people a little more so Abby and sometimes a reside in small places because they can hide their and and who knows it could be on the run, for we know so I say yeah, it's amazing, while this reserve interesting interview and again a fantastic book searching for Sandra the case of disappearance of can too
are, you also have a website that people can visit you and I'm I'm sure, you're on Facebook as well. So what maybe give us your your website? If people would like to check out other material that you do, you do fictional, he do ever write fiction and then on also, you have a two other non fiction books. I I'm not correct four a I have a fiction series, it obviously female detective protagonist and the books were actually some of more based on cases that I've I've worked and one the double closet actually is is a serial child killer. But if you go to Detrick and Dietrich S, T a c y g, I t t r, I c h dot com. You can see my books there. I also have
My memoirs stumbling along be, which is my life, is a female police office I grew up in a police family, my father and uncle each had anywhere from forty three to forty six years on the police department for them and I'm married to a police officer. So it's kind of a little bit. My blood and I have the true crime book prior to this, which was murder behind the badge. True stories of cops to kill it. Just a compilation in history of police officers that went off the deep end to say the least and committed murder And then, of course, they're searching for Sandra yeah, very unique books, too, and and for because offered from your your unique perspective, so we're very, very interesting to cops who who killed very
interesting stuff- and I want to thank you very much for this interview Stacy. This has been great and people listening to searching for Sandra the story behind the disappearance of Sandra can too, with my special guest Stacy Dietrich want to thank you very much Stacey for this interview and hope to talk to you again soon about a new project, listen Dan. Thank you so much and I love what you're doing it's great. Thank you very much and you have a great evening bye, bye night
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Transcript generated on 2021-06-09.