Personal Effects & Uncle Update (Or Lack Thereof)

Friday, December 17th, 2010 by Rachel

Nobody ever can explain to you what it’s like to lose a loved one. It’s unimaginable how something unexpected can ripple throughout your life. I’m not as much of a reader as I used to be, so I haven’t sought out books on grief, but I’ve watched my share of movies and TV. Hell, I’ve watched eleven seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit this semester. I thought that Pfeiffer’s character, Linda, in the movie Personal Effects really got it right when she said, “I’ve never even been to court before all this happened. It’s like a foreign country in there, the words they use and how things happen, it’s just… It’s like I got on a wrong plane and got off at some fucked up country I’m not supposed to be in.”


This movie hit closer to home than anything else I’ve come across. When I saw the movie poster on Netflix, I remembered the plot vaguely and thought “Oh yea, this seemed like a more serious I Could Never Be Your Woman.” This takes the concept of an unconventional relationship (not quite Harold & Maude) and puts it in the midst of tragedy. Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher play characters who meet in a “murder grief counseling” group. Not only do they eventually develop a romantic relationship, but Kutcher’s character works to help her deaf, bitter son deal with his father’s death. Even in darkness, there is some comic relief provided by Kutcher’s character who has taken the job of a chicken outside a restaurant. Pfeiffer identifies him as the sad chicken, which becomes a metaphor for his whole existence.


I would recommend this movie to anyone, whether you’ve experienced a recent loss or not. I thought the film was surprisingly well made, considering I haven’t really heard anything about it. I had no complaints about anyones’ performance. Pfeiffer’s always wonderful. I thought that this was Kutcher’s best role since The Butterfly Effect. Kathy Bates succeeds in a small part as Kutcher’s mother, focused on helping organized a charity rummage sale.


What really rang true to me in this film were moments like when the grief counselor says something about family of the deceased finding a crutch in the legal system, but the legal system can rarely ever succeed in providing the answers or solutions. For us, we have NO answers. I’ve been really depressed for the last few weeks. My emails to the media have fallen on deaf ears/eyes probably because the law enforcement is providing them with information that contradicts what the district attorney says.


It has been a year and one month since my uncle, Thomas A. Rice Jr., was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. His cause of death is listed as unknown on his death certificate. Nobody cares what happened to him. A complete investigation was never conducted by either local law enforcement or the ABI, which was brought in to investigate but subsequently denied being brought in. Sheriff Grover Smith of Atmore, AL hasn’t responded to my mom’s emails in nine months. Our world is corrupt and cruel.


But you know what? This movie made me feel a little bit better about it all. And I think that’s pretty awesome. Watch it.

My Uncle’s Death Has Not Been Ruled a Suicide

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 by Rachel

Why don’t newspapers cover all their bases before printing stuff? Here’s the most concise article I’ve found.



McDavid Woman Indicted On Child Sex Charges After Husband’s Death


November 29, 2010


A McDavid woman has been indicted on child sex charges after authorities found evidence against her as they investigated the apparent suicide of her husband.


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.


The Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Office located the unnamed evidence against Rice while investigating the death of her husband, Atmore dentist Dr. Thomas Rice, late last year. She was released from the Escambia County (Ala.) Detention Center on $300,000 bond.


Dr. Thomas Alvin Rice, Jr., 54, was found dead from a gunshot wound at his Nokomis home on November 21, 2009. Authorities said the death was an apparent suicide and unrelated to any alleged marital problems between the couple.

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.


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Can’t wait for our wishbone to dry out so I can make a wish

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 by Rachel

Turkey skeleton

Reciting my poem last night went well, though it was the strangest poem selection out of the bunch. I think that the process of memorizing these two poems this semester has been a good exercise for me, but I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person/poet who wants to just sit around and memorize poems for fun. I’m not sure I absorb the music or rhythm the way other poets do. It’s just so hard to spend so much time working on something to forget it within a week. I don’t think I’ll ever assign memorization to a poetry class that I’ll teach, but we’ll see if I stick to my anti-memorization guns down the road… Maybe all memorizing and reciting a poem should be is a rite of passage?


I also got some positive reactions about my Uncle TJ/bunny ghazal and a revision of a different ghazal (making it free verse), so last night was a good last night of poetry. We might be meeting up next week for drinks, since class is over. Hopefully my schedule will allow that.


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Memorization Take Two & Quick Update

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by Rachel

It’s happening tonight. I changed my mind. I didn’t memorize Leda and the Swan, but I memorized A Debt is Paid, which I posted here a few weeks back. I’m sort of prudish about these things, so I can’t believe I’ll be saying butt and ass, but that’s okay. Will let you know how it does.


It’s been a strange past week. I’ve had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I need to write a research paper this week. It’s all in my head, but I’m a little worried that I might need to pull out some supplementary research to fit my topic. My paper is going to be on the role of pop culture in the composition classroom. I’m probably more of an expert on this topic than I give myself credit for. I just feel so uncomfortable writing about my teaching… I need to get over that.


No new news about Uncle TJ. I requested a see no speak no hear no evil bunny rabbit stack (meaning there are three of them piled on top of each other). that I saw in his office sitting on top of the tv. It was pretty creepy. You can barely tell they are bunny rabbits…I didn’t think I’d have much competition for it. Mom and Dad brought it to me on their way back through Milledgeville up to NC. Like I explained to them, these strange bunnies sat on top of his TV, and he must have looked at them every single day. He loved it, so I love it. I wrote a ghazal about bunnies today. We’ll see how that goes.


Speaking of ghazals, I’ve never heard of them, but I think the form is growing on me. I bought (and recommend) this book: Ravishing DisUnities. There is one in there by Richard Chess, one of my poetry teachers at UNCA.


I basically taught my last class last week. This week is conferences, and next week they’ll be turning in their 8-10 page research papers. Overall, my first semester teaching here at Georgia College has been a good one. Students have been diligent, interested, friendly, polite. I haven’t had any of the discipline or literacy problems that I had in my first semester at NAU. I would say that I’m sad that the semester is ending, but I’ll have 26 of the same students in the spring…I’m excited to see how having repeat students works out, since I only had one at NAU.

Got back from Alabama today

Friday, November 27th, 2009 by Rachel

Dentist’s death probed


By Adam Prestridge


Published: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 7:58 AM CST


Investigators with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office are treating the death of longtime Atmore dentist Thomas Alvin Rice Jr., DMD, who was found shot inside his home in Nokomis, as a homicide until evidence proves otherwise.


According to Sheriff Grover Smith, all deaths are treated as homicide until forensic evidence disproves that foul play was involved. He added that initial evidence indicates that no one else was involved in the shooting.


“All the evidence we have is consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but it is way too early,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon. “We investigate every death as a homicide. We haven’t even got the report back from the pathologist.”


Deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office were called to Rice’s home off Hwy. 31 in Nokomis just before 6 p.m. Saturday night where he was discovered dead from a single gunshot wound to the head.


“Right now we don’t have any evidence that indicates anything other than what it appears,” Smith said. “It’s still early in the investigation; there’s a lot people to talk to and we still need to get all of our reports in from the lab.”


Smith said investigators are primarily focused on people who had contact with Rice within 24 hours of his death. He also confirmed that there was a note found inside the home.


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Uncle TJ

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 by Rachel

Last night, I missed a phone call from Alabama… the voicemail was hard to understand, but I knew that a tragedy had happened in my family and that they needed to get in touch with my family. We called and got ahold of Mom and Dad. My Uncle TJ is dead. I don’t know why I was the first person who was called or contacted about this. Maybe he had the address book open to my name.. I don’t know. But it’s a tough weekend. Here’s as much as is available on it right now.


Atmore Dentist Found Dead From Gunshot Wound


November 22, 2009


The Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of Atmore dentist who was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home Saturday.


Dr. Thomas Alvin Rice, Jr., 54, was discovered dead at his residence on Highway 31 in Nokomis late Saturday afternoon. Rice died from a gunshot wound, according to Escambia County (Ala.) Chief Deputy Mike Lambert. Officials are not currently saying if foul play is suspected in Rice’s death; they are awaiting autopsy results from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Mobile.


His death is still under investigation by the Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department


Dr. Rice was a 1982 graduate of the University of Alabama. He has held an active dental license in Alabama since June of 1982, and has practiced dentistry at 111 East Ridgely Street in Atmore for a number of years.