Dentist’s death probed

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 25, 2009

By By Adam Prestridge
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.
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.
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.
Smith would not disclose the details of the note.
As for how long the investigation will continue, Smith did not indicate a timeframe.
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
Smith added that there is no statute of limitations in cases involving death or homicide.
Investigators are waiting on autopsy results from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Mobile.
Rice was a 1982 graduate of the University of Alabama and has practiced dentistry at 111 E. Ridgeley St. in Atmore for several years. He has held an active dental license in Alabama since June of 1982.
A memorial service for Dr. Rice, a celebration of his life, will be held for family and friends at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 at Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox