Former Detroit drug world figure Stephen (Freaky Steve) Roussell was slain 30 years ago this week in the fall of 1987, a victim of romance-gone-wrong amid the city’s bullets-and-brawn charged crack wars. The 20-year old Roussell had been high-profile teenage drug dealer Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe’s right-hand man and closest friend.

Wershe, 48 and the nation’s longest-serving non-violent juvenile felony offender, was paroled from state prison in Michigan back in the summer from a narcotics-possession conviction he took in 1988, but is currently incarcerated in Florida finishing up a separate sentence for participating in a stolen car ring behind bars in the early 2000s. He was recruited into the drug game as a 14 year old boy fresh out of eighth grade in the summer of 1984 by a federal narcotics task force created to target “weight men” on Detroit’s eastside and paid by the government to infiltrate local drug gangs.

In just a few months, Wershe’s story will hit the big screen in the January 2018 film White Boy Rick, starring newcomer Richie Merritt as Wershe and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey as his father. The role of Freaky Steve Roussell will be played by Milwaukee rapper IshDarr.

Roussell, nicknamed for his reputation as a ladies man, was gunned down on September 21, 1987 by gangland rival Reginald (Rocking Reggie) Brown as he slept on the living room couch of his eastside Detroit home located on the 13600 block of Glenwood. Another Wershe associate, Patrick (Little Pat) McLeod, Roussell’s first cousin, was shot in the attack and survived. McLeod is the son of world-famous Detroit urban-fiction novelist Donald Goines, slain himself in 1974 alongside his common-law wife in their Highland Park apartment.

Brown and Roussell were feuding over a girl they had both dated in the months preceding Roussell’s murder. Two weeks before Roussell was killed, Brown was convicted of physically assaulting him in a brawl earlier that year at an area nightclub. At the time of his death, Roussell was on probation for a gun charge tied to a public shootout he engaged in with Brown on a crowded eastside street the prior spring.

Rocking Reggie Brown and his three brothers led the fearsome Best Friends Gang, a murder-for-hire crew turned sprawling narco conglomerate with tentacles stretching across the entire state of Michigan. He was found guilty of first degree homicide in Roussell’s slaying at an April 1988 jury trial and is serving life behind bars.

While out on an appeal bond in the Roussell case, Brown went after Alfred (Rudy) Austin, a Best Friends affiliate allegedly contemplating cooperating with authorities, and shot Austin and three innocent bystanders dead in a May 1992 massacre on Austin’s front porch. One of those killed in the incident was a 3-year old girl in a stroller. The Best Friends littered the state with dead bodies in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The DEA estimates the gang’s body count reached well into the triple digits.

Roussell was known to have a love for the University of Michigan’s football and basketball teams, making Maize and Blue his signature colors and driving a Wolverines-themed Jeep Cherokee. Honoring his flair and penchant for dressing in high fashion ensembles, he was laid out in his favorite pair of gator boots at his wake. A then 18-year old Wershe was a pallbearer at Roussell’s funeral the next day.

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