Dapper Detroit drug don Richard (Maserati Rick) Carter was killed in maybe the most brazen gangland slaying in Motown’s storied underworld history 30 years ago this week. The suave, handsome and notoriously well-connected crime lord is best remembered for being buried in a $25,000 custom-made gold-plated Mercedes-Benz coffin.

The 29-year old Carter was shot to death in his hospital bed by a hit man dressed in doctor’s scrubs September 12, 1988 on a busy early evening at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital (now Sinai-Grace) on the city’s northwest side. He had been engaged in a heated feud with rival drug kingpin Edward (Big Ed) Hanserd. Police found a wooden cross, a set of rosary beads and a .357 Magnum revolver resting on his hospital room’s bedside drawer.

Less than 48 hours prior to his slaying, Carter had gotten into a shootout with Hanserd and Hanserd’s top enforcer, Lodrick (Ricky the Hitman) Parker at Carter’s car wash headquarters and was wounded in the stomach. It was one of at least a half-dozen shootouts Carter and Hanserd squared off in — Carter was facing charges for attempted murder in an incident from the previous summer at the time of his passing. Authorities suspected Carter of playing a role in multiple gangland executions, yet never brought any indictments.

Parker went on trial for Carter’s murder, but was found not guilty. Hanserd and Carter, both tracing their roots to Detroit’s rugged eastside, had fallen out over a drug debt and Hanserd’s development of a wholesale supply source out in California for himself and others, which was cutting into Carter’s bottom line.

Maserati Rick and Big Ed ran two of the largest cocaine distributorships in the city at the devastating peak of the crack era. Carter was partners with the equally-debonair Demetrius Holloway, killed in the fall of 1990 at a downtown men’s fashion boutique. A month before Holloway’s murder, Clyde Carter, Maserati Rick’s older brother, was slain.

The beef between Carter and Hanserd became increasingly personal throughout late 1987 and into 1988. Hanserd nicknamed himself “Big Ed,” telling people it was a pet name bestowed on him by Carter’s mother. Most on the street referred to Hanserd as “Black Ed” or “Eddie Money.” While Parker is serving a life prison sentence on another case, Hanserd did the better half of three decades behind bars on a federal narcotics and racketeering conviction and was released in 2016.

Before he rose to infamy as a drug boss, Carter was an amateur boxer and ran a stolen-car ring — the moniker “Maserati Rick” came from him showing up at a local nightclub one night in a brand-new Maserati convertible he had bought in Ohio. His childhood best friend was five-time world-champion boxer Tommy Hearns, Detroit’s favorite son in the fight game in the late 20th Century. During Hearns early career, Carter often acted as Hearns’ bodyguard. Southern rapper and hip-hop mogul Master P name-checked Carter in his 1997 song “I Miss My Homies.”

Despite his deep entrenchment in the Detroit dope game, Carter was never arrested on narcotics charges. His lone prison stint was for stealing cars.

If he wouldn’t have been bumped off, a major federal drug case would have most likely ensnared him, according to retired DEA personnel.

“We were well aware of Rick Carter’s position in the drug world, his reputation wasn’t lost on us and was getting attention,” former Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit DEA office Bill Coonce said.

Holloway was also receiving heavy scrutiny from law enforcement in the time surrounding his slaying, having been called to testify in front of a federal grand jury in the weeks preceding his homicide and invoking his Fifth Amendment rights in more than half of his answers.

“Carter and Holloway were a couple big fish, their heads would have been on our walls, if the streets hadn’t have beat us to it,” Coonce’s predecessor as Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit DEA office, Bob DeFauw, said of the pair.

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