ABI joins Rice death investigation

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by Rachel

ABI now involved with Rice investigation


By Adam Prestridge
Published: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 8:43 AM CST
The investigation into the death of Atmore dentist Thomas Alvin Rice Jr. took a turn Monday as agents with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation joined forces with county investigators.


Sheriff Grover Smith said he decided to call the ABI in for assistance after members of Rice’s family were troubled by the case.


“The family was concerned that we were rushing to judgment, so they called me and they had already contacted the district attorney,” Smith said. “I told them that I was going to get the ABI to assist in the investigation.”


An agent with the ABI was sent to Escambia County Monday morning to go over the case with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office after Smith contacted them last week.


Smith believes having an agency outside the local law enforcement agency is beneficial.


“I think it is always good to have an outside agency come in and look at any case, especially with the issues that surround this one,” Smith said.


Deputies with the ECSO discovered the 53-year-old dentist dead from a single gunshot wound to the head at his home on Maple Wood Drive off U.S. 31 in Nokomis the evening of Nov. 21. Although evidence from the scene points to a self-inflicted wound, Smith said all deaths are treated as homicide until forensic evidence disproves that foul play was involved. He said initial evidence indicates that no one else was involved in the shooting.


“We’re not going to rush to judgment,” Smith said. “We’re going to wait until we have all the evidence before we come to any conclusions.”


That evidence may take several months to be processed and examined, Smith said.


“We submitted the hand-written letter we found at the scene next to the body to the FBI lab for fingerprints and handwriting analysis, and the gun has been sent to forensics for fingerprints and ballistics testing and we won’t get results from that for several months,” Smith said.


Smith added that the sheriff’s office has also not received the autopsy results from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Mobile.


As for how long the investigation will continue, Smith did not indicate a timeframe.


“We will follow this case to its natural conclusion,” he said in an earlier interview. “We will meet with the district attorney to review the evidence.


After the case is reviewed by the district attorney and he is satisfied with the evidence presented, the case would then be turned over to the grand jury.


  1. Really sorry about the death of your uncle. Any update on the investigation of Dr. Rice’s death and the indictment of his wife? Do you know when she will go to trial?

  2. Scarlet: Thank you for your condolences. The investigation is continuing, but I have no updates to provide at this time. My uncle’s cause of death is still listed as undetermined on his death certificate.

    As far as the indictment, are you referring to this: “Karen D. Rice, 42, of West Bogia Road, was indicted by an Escambia County (Ala.) grand jury on two counts of sexual abuse on a boy under the age of 12 and one count of first degree sodomy.”? This should/will lead to a trial later this year.

    Please feel free to contact me via the email address listed in my contact page.


Leave a Reply