This week marks 10 year anniversary of horrific crime spree

Walter Rice mug web

This week marks a 10 year anniversary of one of the most “unnecessary” and horrific crimes in Orange County.

Walter Wade Rice Jr. was 32-years-old  when he began the drug-related crime spree which left two people assaulted and two dead in January 2003. He  remains the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on charges of aggravated robbery and  two counts of capital murder, His cumulative offenses leave him with a life sentence. Rice will first become eligible for parole in June 2043 at the age of 72 years old.

Rice fled to Orange County after he assaulted and robbed his brother-in-law in Dequincy, La. Within a few days he  assaulted and robbed another man.

West Orange Police responded to a call at an auto repair shop in response to a 19-year-old man being assaulted and robbed. According to archives, the man was found on the floor of the shop bleeding from a head injury. The victim later told police a man had entered the shop asking for his vehicle to be repaired but was told he would have to speak to the owner about the repairs. The man left the business but returned a short time later. When he returned he struck the victim with a hammer and took his wallet. A witness reported to police a man in his 30s was seen fleeing the scene. He was later identified as Rice.

Another witness reported to police he has helped Rice with his vehicle and later dropped him off north of Interstate 10 on Bob Hall Road. After Rice was apprehended he informed police he had gotten onto a train and as the train  rounded a curve got off which was near the backyard of his next victims in the Echo Loop area where his crime spree continued.

A neighbor had noticed the vehicle of Joan and Emerson Leleux missing and went to make sure everything was OK with the elderly couple. The neighbor looked inside the window after knocking on the door saw the body of Emerson Leleux and called police. When they arrived officers found the body of Joan Leleux in the shed after being drug from the garage. Autopsy results would later reveal she died of blunt force trauma to her head. Emerson Leleux was attacked as he sat in his chair in the living room. He was transferred to the hospital and remained in a coma until he died as a result of his injuries.

Their vehicle was reported missing by area investigators. Rice was arrested while in the vehicle in Louisiana. He was arrested and  held in the jail while facing charges from the assault on his brother-in-law along with other warrants for his arrest. A warrant for his arrest was issued on the charges from West Orange as well.

Investigators went to the jail and spoke with Rice. He cooperated and told them where he had put the murder weapon. They would later take Rice to the Louisiana Travel Center, just across the state line of Texas, to the waterway where he would show them the location where he threw his hammer. However, it was never recovered.

Pct. 1 Constable Chris Humble and former Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy worked the murder case. As he passes the area he remembers the senseless murders and the devastation left behind.

Not long after his conviction, Rice wrote Humble a letter. It was the only letter Humble received to which he never replied. According to Humble, he stated he was not the “monster” many thought him to be.

“But his actions speak otherwise,” Humble said.