This is the true story of a sensationalized murder case told by Cheryl Pierson Cuccio and Rob Cuccio after nearly thirty years of silence. What really happened to Cheryl and Rob before, during and after Cheryl Pierson, a sixteen-year-old sexually, physically and mentally abused teen, hired a classmate to kill her father for $1,000 in 1986?
The case was in the national media for many years. In 1988 a New York Times reporter wrote A Deadly Silence, a successful true crime book about this case using an investigative journalism style. It also became a TV movie. As a traumatized sixteen year old, Cheryl only gave one short interview 30 years ago, so much of what was reported in the media, book and movie was fabrication and speculation. Some accounts implied she lied about the abuse, others that she did it for her father’s insurance, but Cheryl remained silent for years—too young and destroyed to fight back against the speculation and frequent falsehoods or to discuss the true dark nature of the nightmare she lived every day of her young life. After her release from jail, she and her high school boyfriend, Rob Cuccio were married, they had two daughters and led as normal a life as possible. Most friends and neighbors had no idea of her past.
Throughout her life, Cheryl has suffered from PTSD and other symptoms as a result of her father’s abuse and his subsequent murder, but the story doesn’t end there. People often wonder what happened next, or where are they now, because this case continues to hold a fascination. Two episodes are scheduled on Discovery ID channel in early 2017.
This is not fiction and is not sugar-coated. It is the story of their life to the present, and everything is backed by documentation. Cheryl hopes through finally telling the truth about what drove her to murder in her own words, it will help other abuse victims and encourage them to speak out.
On Cheryl’s forty-third birthday, May 14, 2012, after months of misdiagnosed chest pain and other symptoms, Rob Cuccio, her husband of 25 years, suffered a fatal heart attack. Doctors pronounced him dead after thirty minutes, but he’d saved Cheryl’s life for so many years, even when she wanted to commit suicide, that now she knew in her heart she couldn’t live without him. She had to do everything possible to save him. Over the years through Rob’s love, understanding and support she had come a long way from the abused teenage victim. She refused to accept that he was dead, because something inside told her he was clinging to a remnant of life.
She begged doctors to keep trying and wouldn’t give up. The doctor finally said, “We’ll try for ten minutes more, but after that you have to let him go.” Then she prayed to everyone she could think of, even to the father she paid to have killed.
With only two minutes of the ten left, forty-three minutes after his heart ceased to beat and supply oxygen to his brain, there was a faint pulse and Rob came back to life. It was called a miracle. The doctors never had a case where the patient was dead for so long and did not sustain massive brain damage. Everything Cheryl endured during her life had given her the strength to demand they keep trying to save her husband.
Cheryl and Rob brought a malpractice suit against the cardiologist who had treated Rob for chest pain and other classic symptoms. Over at least a six month period, instead of diagnosing that Rob’s arteries were blocked and his heart was dying, the doctor never ordered tests like an angiogram, and instead told him repeatedly nothing was wrong—it was only anxiety. The malpractice case was proven, but a travesty of justice occurred in an astounding jury verdict—the doctor won the case. Some of the doctor’s testimony is included in the book.
In writing their dramatic book, they want to illustrate that damaged lives can be rebuilt. The book has a photo and media reprint section.