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California Mistress Kills Man in "Fatal Attraction" Murder — What Happened?
“What you see is that Cheryl Lucero was obsessed with Ricky Roberts,” said retired homicide detective sergeant John Cabrera in the newest episode of Snapped.
A woman who stalked her married former lover and his family for years and was obsessed to the point of creating fake wedding invitations eventually shot and killed him one Sunday morning in his auto shop.
“We were dealing with what was ultimately a fatal attraction,” said Laura Krieg, a former prosecutor, to Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
What Happened to Ricky Roberts?
49-year-old Ricky Roberts was found dead by two of his friends around 11 a.m. on February 16, 2014, in his Sonora, California auto body shop. He had a gunshot wound to the chest, and his shoulder had also been grazed by bullets.
There were no signs of forced entry at the crime scene, and money was still in his wallet. Police were able to find one distinctive, smaller footprint that didn’t belong to Roberts. No weapon was discovered, but a single .9mm handgun shell casing was on the floor. A neighbor told police she had heard gunshots between 10 and 11 a.m. that morning.
His murder baffled the community as well as law enforcement.
“Ricky was well-respected and well-loved,” Kayce Thompson told Snapped. She was a friend of Rick Roberts, who also discovered his body. “The kind of person that everybody got along with. So this was just absolutely mind-blowing. What the hell happened here? Why? How?”
Ricky Roberts' Stalker, Cheryl Lucero, Exposed
Roberts was married with a 9-year-old adopted son. But Thompson told police as they interviewed her that there was tension in the Roberts’ marriage.
“She wasn’t around the shop very often,” Thompson said of Roberts’ wife. “Myself and everybody knew that there were some marital stresses going on. He was entertaining other relationships.”
Roberts’ wife admitted to police that her husband had been unfaithful. She was home at the time of the murder with their son—an alibi confirmed by police.
“When there’s infidelity in a marriage, that opens up all kinds of possibilities and motive,” Krieg said.
Soon after her initial interview, Roberts’ wife returned to the police station with a photograph she’d found in her husband’s wallet. It was a snapshot of Rick with their son, with a handwritten inscription on the back.
“The handwriting said, ‘My husband Rick’ and his son, but the son’s name was misspelled,” Krieg said. “And she didn’t recognize the handwriting.”
Mrs. Roberts also told police about an unusual incident in 2011 — three years before her husband’s murder. She was at the grocery store and felt that a woman was staring at her.
“This woman had like a cowboy hat on, and was all, really Western — it was super creepy,” said Krieg. “And she got in her car and the woman followed them. She immediately told Rick about it, and he said, ‘Oh, I’ll take care of it, I know who it is.’ He initially brushed it off as some woman who’s kind of obsessed with him. She brought it to Rick’s attention, he assured her it was over.”
But when police interviewed members of Roberts’ church, longtime member Susan Hume mentioned 45-year-old Cheryl Lucero to officers. Lucero was known to dress in rodeo gear. And Hume noticed that Lucero stared at Roberts a lot — causing her to tell her to stop, since he was a married man.
“Cheryl’s response was like, ‘Oh no, God has meant for us to be together,’” Krieg said. “So it was clear that Cheryl wasn’t there because she was a member of the faith. It was clear Cheryl was there because she wanted to be anywhere Rick was that she could be.”
Hume told police she became concerned about Lucero’s obsession with Roberts, particularly after she visited Lucero’s apartment.
“As they went by Cheryl’s bedroom, Sue looked in. There was a shrine to Rick Roberts,” Krieg said. “We’re not talking about a photograph on a nightstand. It’s like a lot of pictures pasted, all these photographs of him and his derby car. Sue just sort of said, ‘What is that?’ and ‘This is inappropriate, Cheryl, Rick’s married.’”
Roberts’ nephew, Erick Burkey, shed more light on how his uncle and Lucero knew each other. He told police Roberts first met Lucero in 2009, as he and his uncle went for lunch at Panda Express where Lucero was employed. One day, Lucero even gave Burkey a scrap of paper with her name and number on it for his uncle, but he threw it away.
Then, Burkey and Roberts began seeing Lucero everywhere.
“Cheryl would go to his church, be at the same grocery store, same parking lot, and it was starting to get weird,” Erick Burkey, Roberts’ nephew, told Snapped. “Rick was starting to get a little nervous.”
By 2010, Lucero had moved to Sonora to be closer to Roberts.
Cheryl Lucero Caught in Ricky Roberts' Case
Police ran a list of people who had purchased .9mm guns against manufacturer records, and discovered Cheryl Lucero had bought the same type of gun as the casing found at the murder scene.
On March 14, 2014, nearly a month after Rick Roberts’ murder, she was interviewed by police. She said she didn’t know Rick Roberts well, and hadn’t spoken to him in years.
She also said she clocked out of work at 10 a.m. the day he was killed. And she promised to bring her gun to show police the following day — but she never showed up.
On March 18, 2014, officers tracked Cheryl Lucero down and interviewed her again. This time, she claimed Rick Roberts pursued her, and not the other way around. But she said she never had sex with him, and denied killing him. But hours into the interview, her story changed again.
“It was an accident,” Lucero told police during a taped interrogation. “Because I was just pointing it at him. I just told him, ‘I want you to leave me alone for good. I don’t ever want to hear from you. I don’t ever want to see you.’”
But Roberts had been shot twice — no accident, according to officers. And when police checked his phone records, they learned in the two years before his murder, he had no contact with Lucero.
When they arrested her, she changed her story once again, trying to pin the blame on an old boyfriend, who hadn’t been in a relationship with her for years, and who had an alibi for the murder.
Police discovered Lucero had rented a storage unit and were horrified by what they discovered inside, which included hundreds of photos of Rick Roberts.
“One of the boxes that detectives found in the storage unit was filed with Rick memorabilia,” Krieg said. “She had created wedding invitations announcing her marriage to Rick Roberts.”
Police also found a pair of Lucero's boots in the unit that matched the tread found at the murder scene, as well as a shell casing matching the one found at the scene.
During her murder trial in 2015, prosecutors alleged Lucero and Roberts had a brief affair in 2012, and then Lucero became obsessed with him.
“He quickly realizes he needs to stop this relationship, and by all accounts, he attempted to do that,” Krieg said.
A jury found Cheryl Lucero guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced her to 50 years to life in prison. She’ll be eligible for parole in 2034 when she’s 65 years old.
"Let her bathe in her mistakes,” Kay Roberts, Rick’s niece, told Snapped. “Let her live in her own misery. She is sitting where she’s supposed to be sitting.”
Watch new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, or on the Oxygen app.