Melissa Suzanne Huckaby, 28, of Manteca, is also a Sunday school teacher. She, too, has a 5-year-old daughter and is a single mom.
The eerie similarities have made life a living hell for the second Huckaby ever since her Tracy namesake was arrested last week on suspicion of kidnapping, raping and killing 8-year-old Tracy girl Sandra Cantu.
“I get death threats all the time,” said the Manteca Huckaby, who also has an 8-year-old child and lives with her parents. “I’ve had news vans at my house — my picture has been all over the media. I’m honestly scared for my safety.”
Her parents, Cyndi and Stan Huckaby of Manteca, said they’ve gotten hundreds of phone calls from CNN, Geraldo Rivera, from Nancy Grace — every media outlet imaginable — asking for a Melissa Huckaby.
But they were calling the wrong one.
The family worries about that the outrage against the woman charged in court this week will be directed toward their daughter if the mix-up isn’t clarified.
“All it takes is for one person to take matters into their own hands,” mother Cyndi said, fighting back tears as she thought about something bad happening to her daughter. “All of a sudden our lives are turned around. And it’s not our fault.”
Like many people in the community, the Huckaby family in Manteca mourns the loss of little Sandra, who was buried today.
“We’re just as devastated as everyone else,” said Cyndi. “And now we have to worry about this, about my daughter’s safety.”
An uncle of Manteca’s Melissa Huckaby, Pat Huckaby of Tracy, says his three sons, Tyler Huckaby, 15, of Tracy High School, and 12-year-old Bryce Huckaby of Hawkins Elementary, dread going back to class when spring break ends next week.
The Manteca Huckaby has had to talk to folks at her children’s daycare, at her church and at work to let them know about the case of mistaken identity.
“So everyone in my life knows about the mix-up,” she said. “I just want everyone else in the country to know.”
Her MySpace account got so many threatening messages that she had to close it down. She worries, she said, because she had uploaded photos of her young daughters.
The Manteca Huckaby attended West High School and graduated from Tracy High School in 1999. She married and divorced in her early 20s, like the Huckaby behind bars now.
Only the jailed Huckaby’s maiden name is Lawless. Huckaby is the other woman’s maiden name. The Huckaby unrelated to the Sandra case has started using her ex-husband’s name at the end of hers — Huckaby-Fudala.
“It helps a little bit,” she said.
The Huckaby from Manteca moved back with her parents after her divorce. She works in Stockton and volunteers at church regularly.
“Hopefully this will all blow over soon,” Huckaby said of the ordeal. “I just want to get back to life as usual.”
In the meantime, Huckaby said she’ll stay near friends and family when she goes out. She’ll consider getting pepper spray and will call her parents to let them know where she is at all times so they don’t worry someone attacked her.
Like her daughter, Huckaby’s mom Cyndi just wants her family’s privacy back.
“This is definitely not a 15 minutes of fame I would ever wish on anybody.”
• Contact Tracy Press reporter Jennifer Wadsworth at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.