Anonymous sources have mentioned the suicide attempt of Melissa Chantel Huckaby before, but the statement filed in the Orange County Superior Court last month marks the first time someone publicly connected the 28-year-old to that allegation.
Huckaby even told the Tracy Press hours before her arrest that she was hospitalized for “internal bleeding,” but refused to elaborate.
Johnny Huckaby — who married Melissa Huckaby in 2005 before their divorce a year later — told a judge that she also forged her mother’s signature on divorce papers. And he said she lied when she accused him in divorce papers of physically abusing her and using drugs.
The allegations came up during an April 20 hearing over whether Johnny Huckaby or his former mother-in-law Judy Lawless should get custody of Melissa’s 5-year-old daughter, Madison Taylor Huckaby.
Johnny Huckaby argued that the horrific charges that sent his ex-wife to jail should entitle him to win custody of Madison. Orange County Commissioner Walter Posey granted his request last month, but reversed that decision after Lawless begged him to let her keep the sickly child at her home in Cypress.
A custody hearing earlier this week was postponed until July 6.
Lawless accused Johnny Huckaby of being a deadbeat dad. She said he lives 1,700 miles away in just outside Little Rock, Ark., and never tried to contact his daughter.
“There were also issues of drugs, alcohol and possibly domestic violence in this case,” she said in an April 22 court declaration. From the time Madison was 1-year-old up to now, she has had virtually no contact with her father, Lawless said.
“I do not believe it is in our granddaughter’s best interests to be placed with somebody she does not know.”
She said that after the media frenzy that followed her daughter Melissa Huckaby’s arrest on charges that she raped and killed 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, Lawless took Madison to a relative’s house in Grants Pass, Ore., to protect her from the chaos in Tracy.
Johnny Huckaby called Lawless on her cell phone to find out where she had taken his daughter. He asked if Madison had seen horses that day, and Lawless said that she had, “indicating that Madison and she were still in Oregon,” Johnny Huckaby said in court filings. Sources have said the Lawless family has a ranch in Oregon.
He didn’t tell Lawless at the time that a judge had already signed papers granting him legal custody of his daughter. But when he flew to Oregon and showed up at the aunt’s house on April 19, Lawless and Madison had already flown back to Cypress.
“What the hell are you doing?” he said he asked Lawless once he got her on the phone again.
“I can’t believe that you are doing this to your daughter,” she responded, according to Johnny Huckaby.
He said he accused Lawless of lying to him about Madison’s whereabouts and that she replied, “I didn’t want anyone to know where she was.”
Over the past couple of years, Johnny Huckaby said he has tried several times to get in touch with his daughter. But Lawless told him that if he tried to see Madison, she would whisk her away to Oregon and “disappear,” he added.
Further, she would tell Madison that she was conceived through artificial insemination, Johnny Huckaby said, “indicating to me that she didn’t want Madison to know that I existed.”
But, he continued, he’s a very stable father, is married, has a 5-year-old stepson, a 1-year-old daughter and a steady job back home in Arkansas.
Johnny Huckaby married Melissa Huckaby just a week after she filed for bankruptcy, records show. At the time, she was five months pregnant with Madison.
Lawless and Johnny Huckaby could not be reached for comment. Their attorneys declined to say anything about the case.
Melissa Huckaby, who has yet to enter a plea, is due back in court at 1 p.m. Friday for further arraignment.
Police arrested her four days after they found Sandra’s body stuffed in a suitcase submerged in a dairy lagoon north of Tracy. She had been missing for 10 days. Sandra used to play with Madison at the Tracy Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park on Clover Road, where the two of them lived.
Madison’s father told ABC’s Good Morning America last month that the little girl was unaware of her mom’s situation.
Melissa Huckaby faces charges of murder with special circumstances for rape with a foreign object, committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child and kidnapping. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.
•Contact Tracy Press reporter Jennifer Wadsworth at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.