(WXYZ) — After serving 32 years and seven months, Richard "White Boy Rick" Wershe Jr., left Kissimmee, Florida with his head high.
Having just turned 51 years old, Wershe began a new chapter in life together with his fiancée Michelle McDonald, whom he began dating in middle school. She shared with 7 Action News by phone what that moment meant to them.
"Today was just... it was, you know – freedom," McDonald said. "It was all about Rick. It was wonderful. He looks great. He’s healthy. He’s energetic."
Wershe spent nearly three decades behind bars in Michigan for a non-violent drug offense. He was locked up at the age of 17, to originally serve a life sentence under a law since ruled unconstitutional.
The same offense today would only carry a max sentence of three years in prison.
Supporters say Wershe's cooperation against corrupt public officials proved to be the reason for a conspiracy of lies to keep him inside. Wershe in fact helped with the largest public corruption case in Detroit's history at the time. It was Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway who later found no reason to keep Wershe locked up in Michigan, and today emotions were running high after his release.
"We were very overwhelmed," McDonlad said. "Everything went as planned. (He's) happy, healthy and excited (and) emotional. All the things I guess you expect after 32 years."
Most recently, in Florida, on unrelated charges, Wershe was set free Monday due to good behavior. The former FBI informant at age 14, now starts his life over as an adult.
“He was very thrilled," McDonald said. "I think everything went really well and he looks forward to everything that he has ahead of him.”