HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Steve Rice answered the phone Wednesday in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio to find out the news he figured he’d hear eventually.
His brother Greg Rice had died.
More than a month prior, on October 5, Greg was reported missing by a neighbor at his apartment complex in Horry County.
For more than five weeks, Steve waited, not knowing where his brother was or what happened to him.
He finally got a sense of closure Wednesday after he learned Meagan Jackson and Chris Dontell were charged with murder in connection to his death.
Dontell worked as a Horry County deputy coroner prior to his arrest. A man who normally is tasked with helping investigate deaths is now at the center of a murder investigation.
Steve Rice said he had never heard of Dontell before this, but Jackson is the father of Greg Rice’s four kids.
He said Greg and Jackson had been together since 2006 but never got married because Greg had been married before and wasn’t interested in getting married again.
“He loved his children, and his family meant so much to him – everything to him,” Steve Rice said of his brother Greg.
Steve said Greg was the youngest of five boys. The two shared a room together when they were young.
Steve said his brother had a big heart.
“He’s a nice guy,” Steve Rice said. “He’d do anything for you.”
Steve said he and his brother both enjoyed playing video games, watching movies and being outdoors. Halloween was Greg’s favorite holiday.
“He was very gifted at being able to create different Halloween decorations and props,” he said.
Fond memories of Greg made the news of his passing even harder for Steve.
“It’s like a freight train just crashes into you,” he said.
The next step in the case will likely come Thursday as Jackson and Dontell are expected to go before a judge for a bond hearing.
Horry County police said there will likely be more charges filed later.
While the pain of knowing his beloved brother was killed is agonizing to Steve Rice, he said he’s grateful for the support he’s received from people in the Myrtle Beach area.
“There’s a lot of nice people down there, and I really appreciate them, because being up here and not down there, you’re just at a loss,” he said. “And a lot of people reached out just, ‘Hey this is happening on the ground here, this is happening on the ground.’ So it was just beautiful.”