When Fire-Rescue responded to 28 John Street in St. Augustine at about 8:59 p.m. Sunday evening, Historic City News was told that emergency personnel thought they would be attending a heart attack victim — not a murder victim.
The St. Augustine Fire Department requested police assistance in order to gain entry into a blocked bedroom door and to secure the apparent crime scene.
Inside, first responders discovered 53 year-old John Westley Rice on the floor; blood coming from his mouth. They determined that the victim was already dead at the scene before their arrival.
Police say Rice had been shot in the chest with one round from a .357 caliber handgun.
The victim’s aunt, 96 year-old Amanda Celestine Stevenson, who resides at 884 W 3rd Street in Saint Augustine, was also discovered in the bedroom — and escorted by police from the home.
While St. Augustine Police Officer Michael Kettman held the perimeter, Sergeant Richard Warner and Detective Charles Simpson combed the house; collecting blood spatter samples, a .357 magnum revolver and other physical evidence.
The victim’s wife, Deborah Rice, told police that she left her husband at about 5:30 p.m.; he was sitting in the living room — watching a football game.
When she returned, at about 8:45 p.m., she said that she found her husband lying on the floor of the bedroom, leaning against the door.
Two neighbors were interviewed by police and stated that, around 6:00 p.m., they heard what sounded like a car door being slammed.
Specifics have not yet been released since the investigation is ongoing; however, Public Information Officer Mark Samson told Historic City News reporters that the fatal attack stemmed from a domestic situation inside the home and that the victim was shot while lying in his bed.
Amanda Rice Stevenson was interviewed by investigators; who took her into custody and charged her with killing her nephew. Her first appearance before a judge is this morning.