Real Name: Unknown
Case: Lost Heirs
Location: McCormick, South Carolina
Date: February 1992
Details: Seventy-three-year-old Walter Rice lived alone in a small trailer on Oak Street in McCormick, South Carolina. He had moved there in 1990. No one ever came to visit and he seemed to prefer it that way. He rarely talked to his neighbors and mostly kept to himself in his final years of life. On January 25, 1992, he took a cab home after his own car was damaged in an accident. Sometime during the next week, he suffered a heart attack and died before he could summon help.
Incredibly, a full year would pass before Walter’s body was even noticed. During this time, the power and cable TV companies turned off service to his trailer and the post office began to stamp his mail "return to sender". Finally, he was discovered when two people attempted to break into the trailer. They found his body laying at the back door and were scared away. Two months later, one of the assailant's girlfriends called the police. On April 5, 1993, Walter's body was removed from the trailer.
Probate judge Ronnie Kidd investigated the case and took on the task of sorting through Walter's possessions. He looked through papers and other items in the trailer, hoping to find something that would lead him to a relatives. Initially, he did not expect to find anything of value. However, after searching through bank statements and other papers, he determined that Walter had an estate worth about $140,000. This included his lot and trailer.
Kidd began to piece together the few known facts of Walter's life. Pay stubs showed that from 1973 to 1983, Walter worked as a cook at the Griswold Inn near Essex, Connecticut. During those ten years, he lived virtually without expense at a dorm for hotel employees. Investigators believe that this arrangement allowed him to amass a small fortune in spite of his modest wage. Surprisingly, none of his co-workers could tell Kidd much about him, despite the fact that they had worked side-by-side with him for a decade.
Kidd found in Walter's possessions indications that he had been to two different hospitals: one in Augusta and one in Abbeville. On the Augusta hospital forms, Walter listed a niece, Jane, as next-of-kin. However, the name "Jane Rice" does not appear on any other official records. At the Abbeville hospital, he listed a "James Edwards". However, it was later determined that Edwards was a neighbor, not a relative.
Walter was born on July 6, 1920 in Abbeville, South Carolina, to Edward and Amanda Rice. He was the youngest of eight children. There was no record that he ever married. If he had no children, any nieces or nephews who survived him would inherit his $140,000 estate.
Walter left one final mystery to ponder: his passport. Its pages are filled with visas from exotic locations, including Guatemala, Belize, Guyana, Curacao, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago. However, nothing is known about the time he spent outside of the United States.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the January 26, 1994 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Kidd received several leads as a result of the broadcast; however, none of the "heirs" turned out to be legitimate. In February 1995, three years after Walter's death, all of his money and inheritance was given to the State of South Carolina because no heirs were ever found.
In a 2007 article on unresolved cases in McCormick, an investigator stated that the Social Security card found with Walter was fraudulent. Also, his birth certificate, which listed his birthplace as Abbeville, could not be verified as the hospital had no record of him being born there. Furthermore, his passport led the investigator to believe he was involved in the CIA; the agency refused to comment. Investigators cannot even confirm that "Walter Rice" was his real name. As a result, Walter's true identity, along with the whereabouts of his heirs, remains a mystery.
- Walter Rice on Unidentified Wikia
- McCormick mystery leads to journey to West Coast - December 13, 1993
- Judge looks for heirs to claim man's $145,000 estate - January 26, 1994
- McCormick's Mystery Man - November 7, 1994
- Unsolved Cases Puzzle McCormick Police (Page 1) (Page 2) - July 30, 2007
- Walter Rice Obituary
- Walter Rice at Find a Grave