Missing Florida woman Shakeira Rucker found dead in estranged husband's storage unit

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida woman was found dead Saturday in a storage unit registered to her estranged husband a week after she was first reported missing, authorities say.

Police were first notified about Shakeira Rucker, 37, by her family after she was last spotted leaving her home in Winter Springs, a city about 10 miles northeast of Orlando, on Nov. 11. The weeklong search had many "twists and turns" and took investigators through four counties across central Florida, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said at a news conference Sunday.

"We were all hoping for a different outcome," Mina said.

Shakeira Rucker
Shakeira Rucker

Deputies found Rucker's body inside a storage facility in Apopka, a city about a dozen miles west of Winter Springs, after someone called 911 about a smell coming from one of the units, Mina said. Rucker, a mother of four, died of apparent gunshot wounds.

The storage unit is registered to Cory Hill, Rucker's estranged husband and the "prime suspect" in the case. Hill has been held without bond in the Orange County Jail since Nov. 12 on four counts of attempted homicide after he allegedly shot at his ex-girlfriend and her family. He will be charged with Rucker's death, the sheriff said.

"We have plenty of time to continue collecting evidence and testing to build our case to charge Cory Hill with Shakeira Rucker's murder," said Mina. "We're not looking for anyone else."

What happened to Shakeira Rucker?

Rucker was last seen leaving her home in Winter Springs on the night of Nov. 11, according to a missing persons flyer from the Winter Springs Police Department.

Matthew Tracht, the chief of the Winter Springs Police Department, said at a news conference Sunday that Rucker "had left with Mr. Hill and went down to the Davenport area of Polk County."

The timeline from when Rucker was last seen to the discovery of her body remains unclear.

Mina told reporters the main crime scene is the storage unit because that's where investigators believe the shooting occurred. Her time of death has not yet been released publicly.

The sheriff said Hill was not cooperative in the investigation.

"Cory Hill could have stopped a lot of that pain and suffering by talking to investigators in the very beginning – instead of putting them through this weeklong nightmare. The storage unit was registered to him; he had to have know that we would have found her in there."

Husband arrested after shooting at ex-girlfriend, deputies say

Hill, 51, was arrested just before midnight on Nov. 12 shortly after police say he tried to kill his ex-girlfriend, according to records filed in Orange County Circuit Court. The incident occurred one day after Rucker was last seen outside her home.

Orange County deputies said Hill went to the house of his ex-girlfriend – who he had previously lived with for two months – and shot at her and her cousin while they were sitting outside, according to an arrest affidavit reviewed by USA TODAY. The woman and her cousin ran into the house. She locked herself in a bathroom, and he went to protect his cousin's two children, including a 1-year-old, court records say.

Hill kicked in the kitchen window, entered the house and called for his ex-girlfriend. After unsuccessfully looking for the woman, Hill left and was soon taken into custody.

Speaking with investigators, the woman said she had recently "called a female who was later identified as Cory's wife, and that's when he became upset and told her that she would regret it," according to an arrest affidavit.

Officials have not said whether the Nov. 12 shooting is related to Rucker's murder. The Orange County Public Defender's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

'We must stay strong'

Rucker's family held a candlelight vigil in her memory Sunday evening, where people spoke of her benevolence and the love she harbored for her family and children.

"She was a caring person," Clarence Thornton, Rucker's brother, told Wesh 2. "She cared about her kids. All she wanted to do was go to church and just live and have fun."

Rucker's children are ages 7, 9, 16 and 18.

"Everyone is angry, but we must stay strong for the sake of my sister," Rucker's brother said at the vigil. "She’s up there looking at us. We got to stay strong for her kids."

Christopher Cann is a breaking news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach him via email at ccann@usatoday.com or follow him on X @ChrisCannFL.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shakeira Rucker found dead in estranged husband's storage unit