Sandra Cantu's family speaks for first time

April 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In their grief, Sandra Cantu's family came out to say how grateful they are for the public support they've been getting. There was a lot of grief, anger, and pressure to find the 8-year-old's killer.

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Police served 15 warrants, interviewed hundreds of people in their search for a killer who's still at large.

There was a massive memorial outside the mobile home park where Sandra lived, but earlier Wednesday, there were more than 100 people who showed up. The family asked the city trucks to move all of the stuffed animals and toys from the memorial because of the anticipated storm. The toys will be donated to charity.

Wednesday night's vigil was silent. It was as if no words could describe their shared grief. While Sandra's family and the public wait for police to catch the killer, the memorial continues to grow. Many of those who come to mourn bring their children. Channell Watson brought her four year old Nevaeh. That's heaven spelled backwards. Nevaeh showed us the Easter lilies she brought.

"What happened to Sandra?" Channell asked Nevaeh.
"She's going to heaven," said Nevaeh.

"This little girl has touched everyone's heart," said Jessie Diaz, a memorial visitor.

"It's really sad because she was my age and I think that if I was taken away, that would be very sad," said 8-year-old Julia Diaz.

Nanette Nagasaki came all the way from San Jose with a teddy bear that said "Be my sweetheart."

Nagasaki has no children of her own, but her heart aches just like any parent's. Police say Tracy is a safe place, but they understand how scared parents may be.

Wednesday, Sandra's family spoke publicly for the first time since the girl's body was found inside a suitcase Monday in an irrigation pond. The family was thankful for the public's overwhelming support, but they were also angry.

"There's a monster out there. He's got to be apprehended. He's got to be put away," said Jose Chavez, Sandra's grandfather.

"It is so despicable to kill this little girl. I mean that's crazy. It's insane," said Jose Chavez.

"It's ridiculous. It's absurd and it's gross. It's grotesque. I want him. I want him bad," said Joe Chavez, Sandra's Uncle.

On Tuesday there was a flurry of police activity Tracy especially focused around the search of a church down the street from the mobile home park. Investigators insist they are making progress in finding Sandra Cantu's killer.

"We feel a great deal of pressure. We want to find who is responsible for this, but we don't want to rush to judgment. We want to identify the people who, or the person who is responsible for this, and develop a strong enough case that they will be brought to justice," said Tracy Police Sgt. Tony Sheneman.

The coroner has finished the autopsy, but is not releasing the results until more toxicology tests are conducted.

Tuesday, an FBI evidence team combed through the Clover Road Baptist Church. It is just down the street from the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park where Sandra lived. Investigators won't say if anything was found.

Sandra's family told reporters, the outpouring of support is much-appreciated.

"It's comforting, but it's also a testament to the heart that Sandra had and how many people she's touched," said Angie Chavez, Sandra's cousin.

At one point, Sandra's cousin, Candice Vega, took pictures of the memorial for the family.

"Are they heartened by the effort to find whoever did this?" asked ABC7's Laura Anthony.
"They better find who did this. They don't have a choice," said Vega.

Sandra's family can only make preliminary arrangements for a funeral or memorial service. The family says when they do have a memorial, they will have both a private and public one.

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