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Family files lawsuit against former Horry Co. deputy coroner, woman charged in man’s death

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 9:13 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The family of a Horry County man who was reported missing last fall has filled a wrongful death lawsuit against the two people charged in his death.

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A lawsuit was filed Wednesday by the family of Gregory Rice and names Chris Dontell and Meagan Jackson as defendants.

Dontell, a former Horry County deputy coroner, and Jackson, the mother of four of Rice’s children, are each charged with murder and criminal conspiracy in Rice’s death.

The victim, 46, was first reported missing on Oct. 5, 2020. He was believed to have been heard from three days before, authorities said.

After weeks of searching, Rice’s body was found along the Little Pee River near Pitts Landing off Highway 378 at the Horry/Marion County line on Nov. 8, authorities said.

According to the lawsuit, Rice’s family believes that after sustaining injuries caused by Jackson and Dontell, he survived for “some period of time before succumbing to his injuries.”

“The Decedent suffered fear, physical pain and suffering, and mental and emotional distress and anguish in the time before his death, for which Decedent’s estate is entitled to an award of actual damages in an amount to be determined by the Court,” the suit states.

According to the victim’s family, Dontell’s and Jackson’s act of murdering Rice “was so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency and must be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the lawsuit states.

The full lawsuit can be read below:

Dontell was released from jail last November on a $125,000 bond. At the time, the defendant was ordered to have no contact with the victim’s family or Jackson and to remain on home detention.

Last month, a judge approved a defense motion to modify Dontell’s bond to remove home detention requirements. All other bond conditions were to remain in place.

According to information from the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the state has filed a motion to revoke Jackson’s bond after she was taken into custody for violating her home detention order.

Jackson is set for a Thursday hearing, where the court will hear a motion to revoke her bond, while the defense is seeking to have it modified, according to the solicitor’s office.

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