A woman had her father murdered. But unlike most murder-for-hire plots, most people believe she was in the right.

Cheryl Pierson grew up in Long Island, New York. She said she had been raped repeatedly by her father, James Pierson, throughout her childhood. He would tell her nearly every day that if she told anyone, he’d kill her. He also began threatening to do the same to Pierson’s little sister. Pierson believed her father would follow through on his promise, and so she hid the abuse from everyone around her, including her boyfriend, Rob Cuccio. But after sometime, Cuccio sensed that something was amiss in Pierson’s home. He wasn’t he only one to have suspicions, but none of Pierson’s other friends or neighbors moved to investigate or report their suspicions. Pierson began to feel as though the only way out was for her father to die.

When Pierson was 16 years old, she began to ask her fellow classmates if they knew anyone who might be interested in killing someone for money, saying she’d seen something similar on television. Another teen, Sean Pica, told Pierson he’d kill someone for $1,000. So, Pierson hired him and he shot Pierson’s father dead in the driveway of their home. At that time, Pierson and Cuccia had managed to scrape up $400 as an advance.

Cheryl, her scumbag dad, and her little sister. (Image: Family photo)

The three were all arrested. Pica pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 years in prison, yet was released early, in 2002. Cuccio was given probation. Pierson served three and a half of her six-month sentence in jail.

Pierson and Cuccio married three years after Pierson was released, and have been married for 28 years. They have two children, Casey and Samantha. Pierson works as a nurse, and couple have put out a book titled Incest, Murder and a Miracle: The True Story Behind the Cheryl Pierson Murder-for-Hire Headlines. See? Sometimes violence really does bring people together.

Pica, now 47, achieved his GED and a college degree in prison. He is now the executive director of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, the same service that helped him achieve his education. He is married. He told PEOPLE, “I don’t think I would have done anything differently. She was looking to survive and she was looking to change the situation — not just for herself, but for her family. I’m okay with that.”


Image: Rob and Cheryl in the 1980s, Family Photo