Details of Disappearance
Rocio was last seen in Colorado Springs, Colorado on November 10, 1987. She was driving a gray and white Pontiac Grand Am at the time. Her husband, Joseph A. Sperry, a soldier stationed at Fort Carson, was visiting family in Florida at the time of Rocio's disappearance. He had also taken their three-month-old daughter.
Joseph stated Rocio called him at 4:45 a.m. to tell him she loved him and there would be a surprise waiting for him when he returned home, something his mother had sent her. He asked her if everything was okay, and she reassured him that everything was fine. He tried to call Rocio back, but he got no answer.
Joseph was gone for six days. Rocio was supposed to meet him him at the airport upon his return on November 14, but she never showed up and he attempted to report her missing. Many people theorized that Rocio either left her husband voluntarily, or was murdered by him.
Joseph never believed his wife left of her own accord. He found broken glass and blood inside their apartment in the 4400 block of east Pikes Peak Avenue and none of Rocio's belongings were missing, except the family's car and their new television set.
The Sperrys' car was found by Joseph on November 22, in a parking lot north of their apartment. It was locked and Joseph had to call a locksmith to get inside it.
He noticed a brown briefcase that was normally kept in the vehicle was missing, and there were grease spots on the driver's side floorboard. The Pontiac had been driven 312 miles between the time Joseph went to Florida and the time he found the car after his return.
Joseph searched for his wife himself among prostitutes, theorizing she was kidnapped by a pimp and forced into prostitution. He stated he had a "miserable" life after Rocio vanished, lost custody of their daughter, and became addicted to heroin. He is now in recovery.
Robert Charles Browne confessed to Rocio's homicide in court in 2006, and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in connection with her death. He stated he took Rocio to the movies, strangled her afterward, dismembered her body and put it in a trash bin. He also stole her car, wedding ring and television set.
At the time of his confession, Browne was already incarcerated; he pleaded guilty to the 1991 murder of a thirteen-year-old girl, Heather Dawn Church, and is serving a life sentence. A photograph of him is posted with this case summary.
Authorities believe he was a prolific serial killer with victims in several states. He has claimed responsibility for at least one murder in South Korea and forty-eight murders in the United States, including the 1983 murder of Faye "Aline" Self, whose body was never found. Most of his alleged victims were women, but there were some men also.
Thus far, Browne has only been charged in connection with Heather and Rocio's cases. He will be eligible for parole in 40 years in Rocio's murder, but he not eligible for parole in Heather's case.
Rocio's remains have never been found. She was born in Cuba and spent some time in foster care after being taken from her abusive mother. She married Joseph to get out of the foster care system. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.