Niagara Gazette

October 6, 2012

Case still cold

CRIME: Agents enter house seeking clues in disappearance.

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Looking for a break in a cold case, members of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department appear to have walked away from a Caledonia Street house without any new leads.

Undercover — and unidentified — officers, wearing black T-shirts and driving unmarked cars, on Wednesday searched a house formerly owned by Roger L. Hueber, located at the corner of Prospect and Caladonia streets.

The officers didn’t tell neighbors what they were looking for inside the red brick house at 252 Caledonia, but assured the curious there was nothing to be concerned about.

According to Capt. Chuck Baker of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, “They were over there yesterday. The investigation is ongoing. There is not any breaking news.”

Many neighbors know the mysterious story of Sheryl Lyn Rucci, who went missing in Aug. 2005, and her association with Hueber.

Rucci, who was born in 1971, was last seen at her residence on Lincoln Avenue on Aug. 9, 2005. The mother of an 8-year-old daughter, she was scheduled to testify two weeks after her disappearance in front of a grand jury in a sex-abuse case against Hueber, her boyfriend.

Hueber had been charged March 15, 2005, with two counts of third-degree rape, two counts of third-degree sodomy, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of unlawfully dealing with a child.

When she failed to appear in court, Rucci — who was listed as a co-defendant — was indicted on a charge of second-degree sexual abuse.

According to then-Assistant District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek, Sheryl was controlled by Hueber and reportedly provided juveniles with drugs and sex around the same time Hueber did.

Hueber eventually pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted rape and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to 1 1/3 to four years in state prison. He was released from prison in Jan. 2010.

In an Aug. 2010 US&J story on the five-year anniversary of Rucci’s disappearance, investigators said Hueber was the initial person of interest due to his relationship with Sheryl, but he is not the only “target” of the investigation.

Hueber’s former house will be heading to auction following a 2011 foreclosure.

That foreclosure is what allowed sheriff’s officials to get inside the house. Sheriff James Voutour said his department received permission to enter the house, something they were denied in the past by Hueber.

“We’ve tried to approach him since his release ... and he’s chosen not to respond,” Capt. Kristen Neubauer said in an Aug. 2010 interview. “We can’t compel him to talk to us. We’ve talked to multiple people all the way from direct acquaintances to people who’ve lived in the area.”

As word got out about Wednesday’s search, media outlets showed interest in the cold case on Thursday. Voutour said Wednesday’s search didn’t turn up anything.

“It was just another day in a missing person case,” Voutour said.

The state police and sheriff’s department said they followed up on more than 200 leads. In 2011, Voutour said, “We believe her to be a victim of foul play.”