On September 8, 1900 a hurricane now known as The Great Storm struck the Gulf Coast, leveling Galveston. One of Rice's businesses located there, the Merchants and Planters Oil Company, suffered severe damage. The business manager telegraphed that they needed money for repairs and the sum was most of what Rice had readily available in his bank account. Patrick was worried at the loss of such a large sum of cash and he convinced Jones to use chloroform to kill Rice.
On September 23, 1900 Rice was murdered by Jones. Patrick, in his haste to get hold of Rice's cash, tried to withdraw money from Rice's bank using a check forged by Jones right after Rice's death. The bank refused to honor the check since Patrick's name was spelled incorrectly. When calling to verify the check with Rice, the bank learned that he was dead. Since the circumstances were suspicious, the bank contacted Rice's Houston lawyer, Captain James A. Baker.