HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A now-former Horry County deputy coroner accused of murder has responded to a lawsuit filed by the victim’s family.
Chris Dontell, who was a deputy coroner at the time, is accused of killing Gregory Vincent Rice in October 2020 along with co-defendant Meagan Jackson. Rice’s family, who is based in Ohio, filed a lawsuit against Dontell and Jackson in June 2021.
In a response filed Tuesday in court, Dontell claims “any injuries or damages alleged in Plaintiff’s Complaint, were caused by someone other than Defendant Dontell,” according to documents obtained by News13. In a filing in September, Jackson also claimed Rice’s death was caused by someone else.
Dontell also said he has a fifth amendment right to not respond to the allegations while the criminal case is open, according to the documents, something Jackson also indicated in September.
The lawsuit filed by Rice’s family claims Dontell and Jackson conspired together to harm Rice, saying the actions are “utterly intolerable in a civilized society.”
The family is seeking damages for funeral costs and burial expenses, medical expenses, pain and suffering, grief and sorrow, mental shock and suffering, and other unspecified damages.
Rice was reported missing on Oct. 5, 2020. His body was found about a month later along the Little Pee Dee River near Pitts Landing, not far from the Marion County line.
Dontell met Jackson while she worked as a contractor. The state said Dontell and Jackson admitted to having an affair. Rice’s brother told News13 in November 2020 that Rice and Jackson were never married but had several kids together.
The state also said there were substantial efforts to hide Rice’s body.
Prosecutors showed photos at a bond hearing of Dontell with a shopping cart full of items they say were later found on a murdered man’s body. He 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.
Count on News13 for updates on the case.