Carl Rice served as a Marine and he's a civil war reenactor, but he just faced -- and survived -- the biggest battle of his life.
Rice was falsely accused and jailed after a 9-year-old Spotsylvania County boy reported that a man tried to abduct him. Today Rice and his wife, Trina, spoke exclusively to New4 about their ordeal.
It began May 17 when Spotsylvania County sheriff's deputies knocked on his door and told him he was a suspect, that his pickup matched one described by the boy.
"You're completely bewildered," said Rice. "You don't know how to act. All of a sudden my whole world is falling apart and it just starts getting worse."
There was no photo line-up conducted. Instead, Rice said, deputies drove the boy past his house as he stood in the driveway. Even though he continued to insist he had nothing to do with the incident, Rice was taken to jail and held without bond.
"The only thing I could do there was count cinderblocks," he said. "The only thing in my mind is, 'I'm painted with a tar brush. I'm a pervert now.' No matter what I do, everybody is going to think there is something wrong with me... It's just unreal what it does to you. My whole life just comes to a screeching halt."
But the case against Rice unraveled early this week when another man came forward to tell investigators he'd had a conversation from his truck with a boy he thought had fallen off a scooter. Investigators now say there was no crime. They now call it a "benign interaction."
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But investigators and deputies didn't share that with Rice. He showed up for a bond hearing yesterday and learned charges would be dismissed. He'd been exonerated.
"It was like the weight of the world was off my back. It's finally over ... it can go back to the way things used to be," said Rice.
No one in law enforcement has apologized for what happened, Rice said. He's now weighing his options with his attorney.
Rice admits the incident will weigh on his mind but he'll try to move forward with his normal routine, including his next Civil War reenactment.
"I'll try to get over it and carry on with my life," he said. "The only thing to do is fix the bayonet and charge."