October 4, 2021 | by Rebecca Hewett
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Washington Grice loved spending days with those closest to him and simply enjoying a meal together.
“He really just liked to take life easy,” his sister Ruth Grice-Neal said. “He just relaxed.”
Born on February 12, 1975, in Fort Myers, Florida, Washington grew up with five siblings. The Grice kids always had someone to play with. For Washington and Ruth, the two bonded over comic strips when they were younger.
Washington had tight brown curls that sat close to his head. Ruth described his smile as captivating and having the ability to light up a room. He loved spouting silly jokes just to see those he loved laugh and smile.
The stylish guy he was, Washington would often coordinate his outfits. He loved sporting a nice light pink shirt to stand out.
After high school, Washington had his first daughter, Shannara. Washington would have another child, Wakeria, though he never got to meet her. Washington was murdered before Wakeria was born.
On May 15, 2002, Washington had hoped to have dinner with Ruth, but a busy life kept Ruth from seeing her brother. It’s unclear what Washington did instead that night.
Washington was kidnapped by nearly a dozen men, thrown into a car, and shot in the head. His body was then dumped behind a building at 2800 Work Drive.
Washington’s sister Priscilla Davis was the first to receive the news. Wanting to verify the news herself, Priscilla headed to the police station. Devastated and begging for help, an officer came to assist and showed Priscilla a picture of her deceased brother that was taken at the crime scene.
After leaving the police station, Priscilla contacted her parents and siblings to tell them that Washington had been murdered. Ruth says the police haven’t given much solid information about the case and are hesitant to discuss any further details of his murder with the family.
Ruth continues to struggle with not seeing her brother that night. She believes that Washington would still be alive if she had gone to dinner with him. It’s a struggle to not place the blame on herself.
In his life, Washington taught Ruth one very important lesson and that is to spend every moment possible with family. “I just know that he loved his siblings very much,” she said.
His siblings described him as a “crazy goofy guy” who loved sports and going out for a meal. He loved to celebrate Christmas with his whole family because his grandparents would always host.
Ruth and her family have learned to live life without Washington, but they love him dearly and miss him every day. They speak of him so fondly and he is a missing piece of their family puzzle. He was the one to always put a smile on his siblings’ faces and brighten their day if they needed it.
His sisters say he was a good brother to them and that he had so much love in his heart for his family. Ruth says she has moments when she just needs to be alone because life without him and his case being unsolved is overwhelming.
It’s difficult to move forward with life after an event like this, but Ruth says, “just because he’s gone doesn’t mean I always have to be sad.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Washington Grice, please call the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 321-7700.
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