In the ten days after Sandra Cantu went missing, much of the country had been watching and waiting for the 8-year-old's safe return. Tragically, on April 6, 2009, authorities discovered Sandra's body in a suitcase that had been submerged in an irrigation pond two miles from her home.
The suitcase was discovered by farm workers at about 10 a.m. as they were draining the pond to water a field at a dairy farm on Bacchetti Road. Witnesses told police it was not there when they emptied the pond about two weeks prior.
Authorities made the announcement at a press conference later that evening.
While no suspect has been named, the manhunt for Sandra's killer began soon after the conference ended as police began re-examining Sandra's neighborhood.
The suspicious container that police began investigating early April 6 is one of the major clues that cops are looking at to find Sandra's killer.
Authorities say that they're also scouring the area for trace evidence and looking at a number of footprints and tire tracks.
Also on April 6, hundreds of people mourned just outside Sandra's mobile home park and built an impromptu memorial with balloons, stuffed animals, flowers, and notes.
On April 9, 2009, one of Sandra's neighbors, Barbara Sokoloski, told AMW's Michelle Sigona that "Sandra was such a sweet, trusting little girl."
"It's a nice mobile home park, I felt safe here, I've lived here five years.
Sandra lived behind me on that street, the kids would play outside, that was not unusual.... We knew her very well", Sokoloski added.
Sokoloski says that she bought Sandra the 'Hello Kitty' shirt that she was wearing when she vanished.
Sandra used to come over and do homework with Barbara's son's girlfriend who would often tutor her and another little girl.
Barbara says investigators searched her home and every single mobile home at least 4 or 5 times, and they even checked their car trunks too.
"We do feel like it's somebody in here, I don't think she would have gone with a stranger.
She seemed to know a lot of people.
We were all just devastated, worried when she was missing, devastated when they found her", Sokoloski said.
"I just hope they find the person right away, never had anything happen like this is Tracy, I've been here 30 years."