“There was more time for my father to have alone time with me,” she says. “It got to the point where the sex was happening two or three times a day.” words from raped daughter Cheryl Pierson Cuccio, who was molested and sexually assaulted by her own father.
More than 30 years ago, when she was 16 years old, Cheryl Pierson Cuccio paid a classmate to shoot and kill her father — putting an end to what she say were years of his sexual abuse.
Now she is finally ready to tell the entire story of what happened, including the violence she survived, her fatal decision and how she wants to help others.
“It’s not your fault,” Cuccio says she wants other victims to know.
“Just because you feel dirty doesn’t mean that you are dirty,” she says. “You can be whatever you want to be in life.”
After the death of Cheryl’s mother, Cathleen, who passed away at 38 from kidney failure, Cheryl says she took on the “wifely duties” in her family, which went beyond household tasks.
Cheryl says she endured her daily nightmare — but felt like she was out of options when her father threatened to start abusing her 8-year-old sister, JoAnn.
“I promised my mom in her coffin the day she died that I would always protect my sister, no matter what,” she recalls.
One morning in 1986, after hearing about a recent murder-for-hire plot in the news, Cheryl, then a high school cheerleader in Selden, New York, casually mentioned the case to her home-room classmates.
She asked if any of them would be willing to kill someone for money. Sean Pica, a fellow junior, said he’d do it for $1,000.
Not even three months later, on Feb 5. 1986, the innocence of a raped raped daughter found her father, 42-year-old James Pierson, bleeding in the snow in their driveway. He’d been fatally shot five times in the head and chest by a .22-caliber rifle.
It was only when she learned that he’d been shot that Cheryl, the raped daughter, realized Pica, then 18, went through with the killing.
“I was shocked and horrified,” she says.
She, Pica and Rob, her then boyfriend, were soon arrested in connection with James’ death. At her first court hearing, Cheryl’s attorneys revealed her father’s alleged abuse.
When Pica had said he’d serve as a hit man, Cheryl confessed her secret to him and discussed the possibility of killing her dad.
Although she insists she didn’t know Pica was going to go through with it, she says she and Rob pieced together $400 for him in partial payment.
In December of 1990, Cuccio and her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Rob Cuccio, published a book about the case: Incest, Murder and a Miracle: The True Story Behind the Cheryl Pierson Murder-for-Hire Headlines. In it, they recount Cheryl’s upbringing, her father’s death and their lives since, including raising two daughters.