Killed by his own daugh­ter

Her mum ill, Ch­eryl had wifely ‘du­ties’...

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the Story

Ch­eryl Pier­son’s child­hood wasn’t easy. Her dad James, was an ag­gres­sive, ‘foul-mouthed’ bully. He taught his three chil­dren to be silent when adults were in the room. Not to drink water at meal­times un­til they’d fin­ished their food.

If they did any­thing wrong, they were smacked across the face, threat­ened ev­ery day.

Then, when Ch­eryl was 10, her mother Cathleen was di­ag­nosed with kid­ney dis­ease. As the ill­ness took hold, Cathleen needed to sleep down­stairs, needed lots of care.

A dif­fi­cult time for the whole fam­ily. In­deed, James Pier­son cer­tainly seemed to strug­gle. Be­cause it was then that he started to abuse his own daugh­ter Ch­eryl. ‘I had to take on wifely du­ties as far as the house, but also the in­ti­mate things you do with your wife,’ she later said. Raped and abused on a near-daily ba­sis, Pier­son threat­ened to kill Ch­eryl if she breathed a word to any­one about his acts. In Fe­bru­ary 1985, Cathleen died, leav­ing Ch­eryl and her sib­lings in Pier­son’s care. Ch­eryl suf­fered in si­lence. En­dured be­ing forced to have sex with her own dad up to three times a day. ‘The more I fought, the more ag­gres­sive it be­came,’ she said. De­spite the un­think­able abuse, Ch­eryl man­aged to carry on as nor­mal at school, was pop­u­lar, had lots of friends, and loved be­ing a cheer­leader. Then Pier­son threat­ened to start abus­ing Ch­eryl’s 8-yearold sis­ter and some­thing snapped in­side her. One day at school, in Novem­ber 1985, Ch­eryl men­tioned a plot she’d seen on the news in­volv­ing a hit­man. She asked if any­one would be will­ing to kill some­one for money.

Of course, no-one took the re­quest se­ri­ously. She was just a nice, in­no­cent child.

But then she con­fessed to school friend Sean Pica that her fa­ther abused her.

Hor­ri­fied, Pica agreed to kill him for $1,000 (about £750).

Pica later said that af­ter Ch­eryl had men­tioned it, they went on school Christ­mas break.

‘And, man, I thought about her ev­ery day of that break. I just couldn’t let it go. So I just went and waited and shot the guy on his drive­way.’

One dark Wed­nes­day morn­ing, in Fe­bru­ary 1986, Pica hid be­hind a tree in front of Ch­eryl’s house.

Pica – 16 years old, a Boy Scout, with braces on his teeth – was clutch­ing a ri­fle.

When Ch­eryl’s dad came out of the house to go off to work, Pica shot him in eryl Teenager Ch

Why did she do it?

Un­likely hit­man Sean Pica at court dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings

Boyfriend Rob with Ch­eryl on her re­lease

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