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Detroit — William Rice swore he’d be up all night partying, as was his family’s custom on weekends. But a neighbor and friend thought it was time for his night to end and walked him home around 5 a.m. Aug. 31.

Soon after, the neighbor heard a crash. The neighbor went outside to find Rice, 30, lying in the middle of the street, unresponsive, with blood and brain matter coming from his head. He was dead, and the driver who hit him had fled the scene.

On Friday, at Crimestoppers of Michigan headquarters on Detroit’s east side, Rice’s family asked for the community’s help in finding his killer. The family said that the suspected driver was in an older model white car.

“William was known all over this city,” said his cousin Shawn Hartson. “You could catch him walking, east or west (side). Somebody knows something.”

Knowing who drove the car, and their version of what happened that night, would “bring peace” to the family, Hartson said. He recalled rap battles with his cousin as a source of entertainment.

“He was my boy,” said Minnie Wilson, Rice’s grandmother. Wilson took in Rice, then three years old, after his parents and a big sister were murdered by a family acquaintance on Detroit’s west side in March 1988.

Wilson was already taking care of Rice’s older sister, Kim Wilson, at the time of the killing,and would provide Rice, a 2004 graduate of the Southeastern High School, a home until his killing.

Rice’s death is the second grandchild Minnie Wilson has lost in violent fashion, in addition to a daughter and her son-in-law. She also lost her husband to lung cancer in 1986.

But Wilson is far from lonely. With seven grandchildren still living, and three great-grandchildren, the family elder has many who look to her for strength. Wilson uses a walker to get around, but finds strength in her faith.

“God is good, in a whole lot of ways,”Wilson said.

Kim Wilson, the sole survivor in her immediate family, said that the larger family is “tight-knit...Anytime you look up, you’ll see all of us together.”

Now the family is banding together to get justice for Rice. It was Kim Wilson who made the call to Crimestoppers to get the case listed.

Rice had eye transplants in both eyes after birth, and was legally blind. Not so blind that he would walk into walls, one family member said, but to the point he’d have to sit very close to a television to watch it.

Those with information about the hit-and-run can call Crimestoppers at (800)-SPEAK-UP, ortext274637. There is a $2,500 reward available for tipsters whose information leads to an arrest.

Crimestoppers takes tips anonymously. When tipsters call, they are given a special code, which they use to follow up on the case. When an arrest is made, the call-in system will reflect that, and once the tipster’s code is matched with the case, arrangements for the reward money are made. Crimestoppers’ calls go to a call center in Canada. There is no caller ID, and calls are not recorded.

In 2014, Crimestoppers received 6,995 tips, of which 187 were successful. Some 237 arrests were made and 57 fugitives were apprehended. Twenty six homicides were solved, and $116,280 in rewards were approved.

jdickson@detroitnews.com

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