Meagan Jackson and Chris Dontell

Christopher Allen Dontell, 37, of Conway (right) and Meagan Marie Jackson, 35, are charged with murder. Dontell was fired from the Horry County Coroner's Office.

Horry County police on Thursday released more details about a murder case involving a deputy coroner.  

A day earlier, police charged Meagan Marie Jackson, 35, and 37-year-old Chris Dontell with murder in connection with the death of Gregory Vincent Rice, who had been reported missing. Dontell worked as a deputy coroner from 2018 until this week. 

Police on Thursday confirmed that Jackson and Rice have multiple children in common.

Arrest warrants state that Jackson and Dontell each “act[ed] in concert with others with malice aforethought to murder the victim.”

“The defendant and others did conspire to kill the victim and the victim did die as a result of their actions,” each warrant states. “Evidence produced by the investigation includes forensic, physical and, [sic] digital evidence, as well as witness statements corroborating said evidence.”

Specific details about that evidence have not been released.

Rice was reported missing Oct. 5. He was last heard from three days earlier.

Multiple bloodhound searches were conducted and search warrants were served in an effort to find him. 

Horry County police coordinated searches with other local agencies and the CUE Center for Missing Persons. They tracked the victim’s cellphone location and conducted interviews with people who knew him.

Early Sunday morning, Rice’s body was recovered along the Little Pee Dee River at the Horry County-Marion County border.

Police said the recovery happened near Pitts Landing off U.S. 378. An autopsy was then performed at the Medical University of South Carolina.

In a statement, Horry County Coroner Robert Edge said that on Oct. 5 Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard was briefed on Rice’s disappearance by the HCPD.

Police told Willard that Dontell would be questioned during to the investigation. 

The coroner’s office allowed police to examine Dontell’s county phone and county vehicle, Edge wrote.

On Oct. 23, the HCPD informed Dontell he was under investigation in connection to Rice’s disappearance.

Dontell was suspended from the coroner’s office, denied access to all county property and removed from the coroner’s call schedule. On Monday, he was fired.

In his statement, Edge referred all questions to the HCPD. The release said both the HCPD and coroner’s office would not be conducting interviews about the case.

Police continue to investigate and expect to file additional charges. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the HCPD’s tip line at 843-915-8477.


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