A hefty $27,500 cash reward for information leading to the capture of Covington businessman Bruce Cucchiara’s killer is not just extra incentive for someone to come forward and turn a suspect in, according to the leader of the organization that offered up the money. It’s also a tribute to how beloved a member of his community 57-year-old Cucchiara was prior to his murder in eastern New Orleans on April 24, 2012. The reward expires on May 3, 2015.
Several of his family’s supporters donated the funds for the larger-than-usual reward, Crimestoppers Inc. of Greater New Orleans Executive Director Darlene Cusanza said during a news conference in Metairie. Cucchiara’s wife, Anne Soileau Cucchiara, added, “There’s no amount of money I can put on my husband’s life. He’s invaluable.”
At one point, Cucchiara’s 90-year-old mother addressed a gathering of reporters and told them in a feeble voice she hopes to live long enough to see her son’s killer get caught so that she can “look him in the eye and ask, ‘Why did you do this?’ ”
“Why would someone do this to my Bruce?” Vivian Elmer Cucchiara said, choking back sobs. “He was such a loving child and a good man.”
Crimestoppers rewards start at $2,500, but a $25,000 increase was announced when an arrest had not been made in the nine days following Bruce Cucchiara’s slaying. More than 20 people, including Covington Mayor Mike Cooper and Covington Police Chief Richard Palmisano, attended the announcement at Crimestoppers headquarters in support of Cucchiara’s mother and his widow.
On the day he was killed, Cucchiara — the chief financial officer of a Covington real estate development company and a longtime volunteer youth sports coach — was shot in the 4500 block of Papania Drive while scoping out a piece of investment property. He was found lying beside his truck at the Mark VII apartment complex, and New Orleans Police Department Homicide Detective Orlando Matthews on Thursday said Cucchiara’s wallet and cell phone were stolen “in a random act of violence.”
Investigators subsequently released a sketch of a man suspected in the attack and canvassed the neighborhood seeking clues from residents. “Some people are talking, but not everybody is cooperating,” Matthews noted.
Cucchiara’s loved ones joined authorities in hoping that five figures of cash would help crack the investigation open. “Somebody somewhere knows something,” Anne Soileau Cucchiara said. “This man is out there. We have to bring him to justice … or he’ll continue to kill people for a wallet and a cell phone.”
Aside from his wife and mom, Cucchiara left behind two grown children, Caitlin E. Cucchiara and Christopher Paul Cucchiara. Family friend Les Heidelberg recounted at the news conference that Cucchiara was excited about his daughter’s wedding in the fall as well as the expected arrival of another grandchild.
The suspected shooter has been described as being in his mid-20s, between 5 feet, 9 inches and 6 feet tall, and with a slim build. He is clean shaven, has a “possibly light brown complexion,” and was wearing a black knit cap, a thick black jacket with a hood underneath, black pants and black shoes. The NOPD thinks the suspect lives near where the shooting happened, and the department considers him armed and dangerous.
Anyone who can assist detectives is asked to call Crimestoppers at 504.822.1111 or toll-free at 877.903.7867. Callers do not have to give their names or testify to be eligible for the reward.