On Friday, November 22, 1985, it was pouring rain in Aiken County, South Carolina, as Hurricane Kate’s aftereffects passed through. Donna Arrington was shocked to discover her front door slightly ajar when she awoke at around 10:00 am. Donna went to her son’s bedroom after making sure her 10-month-old daughter Christy was secure in her cot. Jeremy Grice was four years old, and she had expected to find him soundly asleep, but his room was empty. The family’s German shepherd companion was nowhere to be seen.
Jeremy’s socks and shoes were on the floor next to his bed, which Donna discovered while looking through his room. He had his room and his favourite jacket, which he never left home without. Jeremy was not wearing a coat or shoes wherever he was.
Donna went straight to the front garden to see if Jeremy was out playing. When she called his name, he did not respond. Donna began to panic, so she put Christy in her playpen and hurried to the nearby house of her father-in-law. When her mother-in-law frantically inquired as to whether Jeremy was with him, he informed her that he hadn’t seen the young child at all that morning. In the hopes that someone would know where her son was, she then began knocking on the doors of her neighbours. Nobody could assist her.
Donna arrived home at around 11:00 a.m. She informed Ray Grice, Jeremy’s father, over the phone that she was unable to locate Jeremy. She then gave her spouse, Nick, a call and repeated the same information. Without delay, both men quit their jobs and threw themselves into finding the little boy.
Numerous neighbours started pitching in to assist with Jeremy’s search as word of his disappearance spread throughout the neighbourhood. Most thought he was just having fun somewhere and would soon be located. But as the minutes passed and he and his dog were nowhere to be seen, people began to worry. Donna reported Jeremy missing to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office at 1:30 p.m.
When deputies arrived, they started searching the area around Jeremy’s house. In the first search, over 130 people combed through the dense forest in search of any information regarding Jeremy’s whereabouts. They had searched every square inch of land within four miles of the house by day’s end, but they had discovered nothing.
The fact that numerous neighbours had spent several hours searching the area before police were notified hindered officials’ attempts to use bloodhounds to follow Jeremy’s trail. The dogs couldn’t distinguish Jeremy’s scent from the rest of the scent due to the high level of activity. It was a setback, Aiken County Sheriff Carroll Heath acknowledged. “The dogs could not have detected any scents at all because of the neighbours’ presence.”
When Jeremy’s German shepherd came home without him, there was less and less hope that he was simply lost. Everybody in the neighbourhood knew that Jeremy always brought his dog with him; the only situations in which he didn’t have him were when he was in a car or someone else’s house. Officials were immediately concerned that Jeremy had been kidnapped when the dog appeared.
In an attempt to locate anyone who may have seen the young child, investigators searched the neighbourhood. Geneva Van Buren informed them that she had driven past Jeremy’s house on her way to work that morning at 8:45 a.m. A small boy and a German shepherd were playing in the front yard when she had glanced over, and she instinctively eased up on the gas pedal until she passed them, fearing that one of them would dart into the street.
The child, Geneva remembered, had been dressed in blue jeans and a dark blue or purple shirt; strangely, he was barefoot and had not on a jacket, even in the rain. She hadn’t given it much thought at the time; she didn’t find out about Jeremy’s disappearance until that afternoon when she returned home from work and saw that the neighbourhood was overrun with police officers.
Detectives were able to determine when Jeremy vanished thanks to Geneva’s sighting; he was last seen in the front garden at 8:45 am and had disappeared by the time Donna woke up at 10:00 am. Regretfully, it didn’t advance their efforts to figure out what had happened to him.
Detectives began questioning the family almost immediately, as is customary in all investigations involving missing children. Donna informed them that the last time she had seen Jeremy was when he boarded the school bus to go to Jefferson Elementary School for pre-kindergarten. His stepfather had met him at the bus stop and spent the entire evening with him; she was working the second shift at a nearby manufacturing plant and was not at home when he got home from school on Thursday afternoon.
It had been an ordinary night at home, Nick told the investigators. He’d given Jeremy a box of animal crackers after supper, half of which were still on the kitchen table. The night before, Jeremy had been too full to finish them, and Nick had told him he could have the remaining ones with his breakfast.
Donna arrived home from work at one in the morning, exhausted and straight to bed. Just before seven in the morning, she woke up briefly to prepare coffee for Nick before he left for his work at the Kimberly Clark plant in Beech Island, South Carolina. Donna followed Nick out and inquired about Jeremy. His blankets were piled high on his bed, and even though she didn’t see him, she assumed he was burrowed beneath them as usual. She returned to bed after that in order to get a few more hours of rest.
Jeremy’s animal crackers were still on the kitchen table where he had left them the previous evening, according to Donna, who noticed this when she woke up at 10:00 am. Animal crackers were Jeremy’s favourite snack and he usually ate them first thing in the morning, but they were unopened. This made Donna think that Jeremy had been rushing out of the house on Friday morning, as if he had been lured outside by someone.
Donna was also upset that Jeremy’s coat, which was a gift from his father and which he cherished, had been left behind. Even in warm weather, he frequently insisted on wearing it. Without this jacket, Donna felt certain her son would never have willingly left the house.
Along with his mother, stepfather, and half-sister, Jeremy resided in a subdivision of mobile homes in Bath, South Carolina, an unincorporated town adjacent to North Augusta. Bath is a remote, highly rural community near the Georgia border, situated on the western edge of Aiken County. It was not the kind of place that an unfamiliar person would just happen to find; it was located in a remote area approximately five miles from the closest highway. Although the location made the possibility of a stranger abduction seem implausible, investigators said they couldn’t rule it out.
Friday was Jeremy’s regular school day, but there were no classes that day. Some people surmised that Jeremy, who enjoyed attending school, might have gone outside to wait for his school bus without realising it was a school holiday. It seems even less likely that a stranger happened to be driving by while he was outside than that he would have dressed to go to school without shoes. A few detectives began to suspect that the little boy’s problems might have started in his subdivision.
On Saturday morning, the FBI got involved in the probe. Deputies, agents, and volunteers conducted a massive ground and aerial search, with helicopters searching from above while volunteers and people on foot and horseback searched the area. Numerous people were interviewed, a polygraph test was administered to a number of individuals, and two ponds close to the mobile home park were emptied. Nothing advanced the search for Jeremy on the part of the detectives.
Sunday was spent by detectives knocking on doors in the neighbourhood, speaking with locals, and looking for information about Jeremy’s whereabouts. Every car that tried to enter or exit Jeremy’s subdivision was stopped and interrogated by them after they erected a roadblock. After talking to locals, they discovered that two strange cars had been spotted in the area shortly before Jeremy vanished. Both of these vans were located and ruled out by investigators as potential suspects in Jeremy’s disappearance.
Investigators looked into the possibility that Jeremy’s abduction was the result of a custody dispute because his parents were divorced. Ray and Donna divorced peacefully, even though Donna was given primary custody of Jeremy and Ray continued to live in the same neighbourhood and saw his son frequently. The couple had decided to separate several years prior.
Although Jeremy’s family members were closely monitored in the days that followed his disappearance, a State Division of Law Enforcement spokesperson stated that none of them was considered a suspect in the child’s disappearance.
As of Monday, the investigation was involving eight distinct law enforcement agencies. According to Sheriff Heath, every effort was being made to find the missing boy. He mentioned that Jeremy was not the kind of child who would go into the woods by himself and that he never went near any ponds because he was terrified of the water. Investigators thought he had been kidnapped rather than lost or involved in an accident of some sort.
Authorities declared a $2,500 reward for information leading to Jeremy’s whereabouts ten days after he was last seen. Though no significant leads were generated, they had hoped that the reward would rekindle the investigation and yield some fresh information.
Unfortunately, Jeremy’s case had stopped making news by year’s end. State Division of Law Enforcement public affairs officer Hugh Munn acknowledged that detectives knew no more than they did on the day that Jeremy vanished. He claimed that despite following every lead that could be found, they were still unable to determine Jeremy’s status. There were no signs of foul play in or around his home, and no one had seen him being abducted. He had just disappeared, leaving no trace.
After Jeremy’s missing poster was circulated across the nation, detectives spent the ensuing year pursuing leads from all around the country. When a child in her class who looked like Jeremy refused to respond to the name she had been instructed to call him, an Illinois creche teacher called the police. In Georgia, a dental assistant was positive that she had cleaned Jeremy’s teeth. A Tennessee teacher speculated that one of her new students might be the missing child. None of the suggestions led to Jeremy, even though they all seemed promising.
Donna and Nick harboured a fantasy that Jeremy was still alive, possibly kidnapped by someone desiring a child of their own. Donna looked closely at every young boy she saw, hoping that her eyes would catch Jeremy’s features. Ray, his father, was more realistic. He didn’t think Jeremy had been kidnapped by an unknown individual. “I think the answer is in that neighborhood…there’s only one road in and out,” he said to a local newspaper reporter. Strange traffic is not present in that area. It was a depressing idea.
Ray’s conclusion was supported by a few investigators who pointed out that Jeremy’s dog and the person who took him were probably acquainted. Since the German shepherd had been Jeremy’s fierce protector, it’s likely that he wouldn’t have allowed a stranger to approach and seize him.
May 1992 would have marked Jeremy’s eleventh birthday. The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office released an age progression picture of him to commemorate the event, revealing what he might have looked like at eleven years old. Sheriff Heath was hoping that the photo would generate fresh leads that would lead to Jeremy’s whereabouts. While some suggestions were received, none of them were successful.
A self-described psychic claimed that Jeremy would be found in Langley, South Carolina, along with a boat and a wheel, so investigators searched Langley Pond in March 1995. There was no sign of Jeremy, even though searchers did find the bow of a long-abandoned boat and a tricycle wheel.
Regretfully, the Langley Pond search was the final, widely reported attempt to find Jeremy. Even though the case is still active, years have passed with no new tips, and the investigation has long since come to a standstill. Although Jeremy’s relatives and the investigators acknowledge the remote possibility that he is still alive, they do not give up hope.
In 1985, Jeremy Grice vanished when he was 4 years old. A gregarious and bashful boy, he enjoyed playing outside with his dog. He had blonde hair and hazel eyes. He weighed forty pounds and stood three feet ten inches tall at the time of his disappearance. When last seen, he was sporting a blue or purple shirt with blue jeans. It’s possible that Jeremy is still alive and just has hazy memories of his past, despite the authorities’ belief that he was abducted. Please call 803–642–1761 to reach the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office if you know anything about Jeremy.