HORRY CO, SC (WBTW) – Prosecutors showed photos at a bond hearing of a former Horry County deputy coroner with a shopping cart full of items they say were later found on a murdered man’s body.
Christopher Dontell was shopping at a home improvement store where surveillance video shows him with a cart containing cement blocks, zip ties, a tarp, and tie-downs, all of which were found on Gregory Rice’s recovered body, according to prosecutors. A judge was given the photos taken from the video at a bond hearing on Thursday.
Dontell’s defense attorney said his family depends on him for support so he requested bond to work at his other job. Dontell has been fired from his job as deputy coroner with the county. His attorney said Dontell intended to live back at home with his wife and their children.
Judge Steven John granted a $125,000 surety bond. If Dontell’s wife is unable or unwilling to house him, he will be sent back to jail, Judge John said. He is to have no contact with the victim’s family or with his codefendant, Meagan Jackson.
Jackson, who also is accused of murder and who is the mother of the murdered man’s children, was granted a $100,000 surety bond on Thursday. Dontell met Jackson while she worked as a contractor. She is to have no contact with her children, relatives, or Dontell.
The state said Dontell and Jackson admitted to having an affair. The state also said there were substantial efforts to hide Rice’s body.
Police executed a search warrant at Jackson’s home Thursday and said they found evidence of child abuse. Jackson will also be charged with four counts of felony child abuse, the prosecutor said.
The children were taken into DSS custody but are now living with their half-brother and son of Greg Rice. He asked the judge to deny bond.
“I also have good reason to believe that she has engaged in abusive behavior towards my siblings over an extended period of time, which has caused considerable trauma,” said Zach Rice, the victim’s son. “Given her path of behavior I can only believe she is capable of further destructive acts, including harming my siblings and possibly me if released into custody.”
The two were arrested Nov. 11 in connection with the death of Rice, who had been reported missing on Oct. 5 and was last believed to have been heard from on Oct. 2. At the time, Rice was considered missing, not endangered.
Dontell was terminated Nov. 11, according to a statement from the Horry County Coroner’s Office. He was informed on Oct. 23 that he was officially under investigation, and was immediately denied access to all county property and was removed from the call schedule.