- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2020

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina deputy coroner and a second person are accused of murder in the October disappearance of an Horry County man.

Christopher Allen Dontell was fired Monday from his job as a deputy coroner, reports The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, The 37-year-old Conway man was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder, as was 35-year-old Meagan Marie Jackson.

They’re charged with murder in the death of Gregory Vincent Rice, who went missing on Oct. 2 near Myrtle Beach. Officers used dogs to search and used search warrants to try and find Rice. His body was found Sunday in a location that police have not disclosed.

Police haven’t said why Dontell and Jackson are suspects or how Rice may have been killed. Rice’s brother told WMBF-TV that Jackson had been in a relationship with Rice since 2006 and the couple had four children together, moving to South Carolina in 2013.

Dontell has been under suspicion for weeks. Horry County Coroner Robert Edge said in a statement Wednesday that Horry County police told the coroner’s office that Dontell would be questioned and the office gave police permission to examine Dontell’s county phone and vehicle then. By Oct. 23, police told Dontell he was formally under investigation and Dontell was suspended from the coroner’s office.

Dontell and Jackson remain jailed without bail, with a hearing before a judge likely on Thursday. It’s unclear if either have a lawyer representing them. Police said the investigation into Rice’s death continues and additional charges are likely.

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