DETROIT – "White Boy" Rick Wershe spoke Friday with Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz over the phone after the Michigan parole board voted to grant his release.
Wershe spent nearly 30 years in prison after being arrested in a 1987 drug bust. After a failed attempt at parole in 2003, he finally got another chance on June 8, when he met with two members of the parole board.
The 10-member parole board voted unanimously in Wershe's favor.
You can read a transcript of Local 4's interview with Wershe below.
You can hear the full interview on Local 4 News at 5 and 6.
Wershe: Oh my, Kevin. I don't know, man. I feel so good.
Wershe: I feel overwhelmed with joy, man. I mean it's like, I swear to God, man, I feel like 10 years younger. It's weird, like, so much weight's been lifted off of me.
Wershe: The administrative assistant came and called me in the office and basically told me, 'Listen, it's over. You're done. Michigan parole just (voted in your favor).'
Kevin: What did you do?
Wershe: I cried man. I cried. I didn't know what I would do, you know? I mean, these people have been very nice and supportive, and I appreciate all of them, and the one who brought me the news has been so supportive, and I don't think there's a person that works here that thinks I belong in prison.
Wershe: There is no words. I mean, I'm at a loss for words, to be honest with you. I'm just overwhelmed, Kevin. I don't know. I don't have any words, man.
Wershe: I haven't been sleeping yet, and to be honest with you, I’m not tired now. I got up, I worked out, a friend of mine sent me some words and the first line he wrote was, "Stop pacing the floor, breathe, relax," and you know, as soon as I read the words, I was pacing the floor and I laughed. you know?
Kevin: What do you want to say to your supporters?
Wershe: I appreciate every one of them -- from the people that I don't know to you and everyone at Channel 4. You know, everyone. I appreciate Kym Worthy, to be honest with you, in believing I deserve a second chance and giving the parole board the opportunity to give me that chance. None of them will be disappointed. I can guarantee you that.
Kevin: Rick, I have a surprise for you.
Gabby Wershe (his niece): Hi
Wershe: Hey, Gab. What’s up hon?
Gabby: I'm so happy
Wershe: Yeah, me too. Emotional
Gabby: I don't even know what to say. We finally made it.
Wershe: Yeah. We love you, Gab.
Gabby: We love you, too. I can't wait to see you. Oh my goodness.
Wershe: It's over, hon. That's all.
Gabby: I know.
Wershe: I appreciate you. I love you. I'll be there to see your daughter grow up.
Gabby: I know. I know. I can't wait.
Wershe: Kevin, you threw me a curve ball there, bub.
Wershe: Absolutely, man, absolutely. Man, I can't explain it. I can't explain it. Almost 30 years of hell, and it's over with.
Wershe: Man, I don't care. Some people do 30 or 60 or 90 days in the county jail. I don't care about 30, 60, 90 days.
Wershe: If it was 12 months or 18 months, you don't know having that life sentence? The stress that it takes off you and the foot that's been on my chest for all these years.
Wershe: I don't care. Whatever I need to do. Whatever they want me to do, that's what I'm going to do.
Kevin: Were you worried about dying (in prison)?
Wershe: Absolutely. I almost died in here twice. I've seen people drop dead in here. Several of them.
Wershe: I want to go tell my grammy and grampa that I made it out of prison. I want to go visit them at their grave site.
Wershe: I wouldn't go that far yet because I'm still surrounded by tons of negativity, you know. But there is good people in here as well, man. There is other people who deserve a shot at their freedom. I hope they get it, you know.
Wershe: When I taste that freedom is the day I walk out that door, man.
Wershe: I called Greg Schwartz and, you know, over the years he's been like a father figure to me, man.
Wershe: I just thanked him for the last 29 years, and here is an FBI agent who told me, 'Hey, if you want to come move into my house and you need a place to stay, you've always got one.'
Wershe: Just for him to have that faith in me and that belief means so much.
Wershe: I never thought I would have the friends I have now, the people that care about me. Scott Silver, Scott Franklin, Mike Wice, his family, all of them.
Wershe: These people, they embraced me and care about me
Wershe: I received a letter last night from an old couple in Birmingham, and it was so nice. It was just, here's these people you could tell were upper middle class people and they’re like, 'We're praying for you and we care about you.'
Wershe: Everyone, not just them, but I’ve received so many letters, man, from people who just care
Wershe: I got a letter the other day from someone in Texas, a letter from someone in Australia. It's overwhelming, man
Wershe: The outpouring of compassion people feel, and they don't know me. All they've done is read my story and know that I didn't turn myself into a drug dealer, that that was something -- a role that I was pushed into -- and I never wanted to be a drug dealer. It was a life that I was taught and I was a child and I was blinded by the lifestyle and the money. It's not something I ever aspired to be.
Wershe: I'm going to go out and make a difference. I'm going to fundraising. I'm going to continue to do good things where I come from. Wherever I can help and whatever I can do with the rest of my life.
Wershe: I need to live my life, and make a good living of course, and be there and help my family, but whatever I can do to continue to help others, that's what I'm going to do with my life.
Wershe: That's the furthest thing from my mind, man. I mean, to be honest with you, Kevin, I just told Scott Silver I seen they got 100-pound heroin out of Novi, and I think the article was 2 inches by 2 inches, but here I am almost 30 years later, and I’m on the front page. It just doesn’t make sense.
Wershe: It's great. It's great. I got the best birthday gift in the world, man. No one ever has to get me anything for my birthday in life again. I got everything I need in life.
Wershe: Probably, man. It’s the best one. This is my 30th birthday in prison and it will be the best one. I've got some good friends in this place that I feel, you know, and I think it will be the best one ever, man.
Gabby: I love you, and I couldn't be more happy and excited to finally have you home with us.
Wershe: I love you too, Gab, and I can't wait to see you, and I can't wait to hold the baby and give her a big kiss.
Gabby: We love you, OK?
Wershe: Yep, and tell everybody I said hi and I love them.
Wershe: I said I love her and tell everyone you know I’m coming home.
Wershe: Alright honey, I love you. Be safe.
Wershe: I appreciate everyone -- from you, Kevin, on down that's delved into this story and told the truth about it. The ones that haven't told the truth I don't really have much for, but they were doing their job, what they saw fit.
Wershe: I appreciate you and everyone at your channel that's worked hard for me.
Kevin: What do you want to say to (Michigan parole board Chairman Michael) Eagen?
Wershe: Tell him to thank him and everyone else that voted in my favor and gave me that chance. That I appreciate them more than they'll ever know.