Berkeley police looking for 1998 murder suspect

Nine years after San Lorenzo resident Rick DeVecchi was maliciously struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in front of his family's business in Berkeley, his killer remains unknown.

Berkeley police have posted a composite sketch of the unidentified suspect on their Most Wanted list and a reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction stands at $50,000.

“It comes to us every year, obviously,” Rick DeVecchi's brother, Randy DeVecchi, said. Although police haven't received any new leads in years, family members are still hoping that someone has heard the suspect talk about the murder or could provide some clue as to the identity of the man, Randy DeVecchi said.

The suspect is described as a black male adult with black hair, about 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing about 185 pounds, according to police.

He was driving an early 1980's American-made vehicle with a dark, possibly vinyl roof over a light body, police reported. The vehicle had a California license plate.

Randy DeVecchi said the car is believed to have been a light-colored Cadillac with a dark top.

Shortly after 7 a.m. on Dec. 17, 1998, Rick DeVecchi, 37, noticed a man prowling in the bed of his truck which was parked in the 1900 block of 2nd Street in West Berkeley near the family's trucking company, police reported.

As Rick DeVecchi was heading across 2nd Street to investigate, the prowler got into his vehicle and accelerated toward him, intentionally striking him, police reported.

The car then sped from the scene, traveling west on Hearst Street then north on Interstate Highway 80 toward Gilman Street.

Rick DeVecchi's father, Dick DeVecchi, witnessed the attack. He thought about chasing the suspect down, but his son was lying in the street dying, Randy DeVecchi said.

Rick DeVecchi died from his injuries at a nearby hospital. His organs and tissues were donated to help save others, Randy DeVecchi said.

Neither the car nor the driver has been found.

“It seems to have become a cold case,” Randy DeVecchi said. He said every year on the anniversary of Rick DeVecchi's death, the family tries to remind people that this is still an unsolved murder.

Rick DeVecchi is survived by his wife of 15 years and two children.

Donations in his name have been made to numerous charitable institutions, including the Make a Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society and Guide Dogs for the Blind, according to Randy DeVecchi. And every year his alma madder, Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, holds a car show in his memory to raise money for high school sports, according to Randy DeVecchi.

Donations to the Rick DeVecchi trust fund can be sent to P.O. Box 7706, Berkeley, CA 94707.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Berkeley Police Department Homicide Detail at (510) 981-5742 or their local law enforcement agency.

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