The Woodward News


August 24, 2005

Garrett Rice brought joy to everyone.

Little Garrett’s big blue eyes peek out from the fur that swaddles him beneath a darkened sky.

A porchlight casts a glow on his face, highlighting the excitement expressed in his baby blues. He sees a bowl of candy and blurts “Trick or Treat,” in language that only a Mother could really understand from a 1-year-old learning to talk.

It’s Halloween 2002, a night that Casey Atkins will never forget.

“That’s one of my favorite memories of Garrett,” Atkins said. “I taught him to say ‘Trick or Treat,’ and he was trying to say ‘Happy Halloween.’

“He really got into going door to door and getting candy. He wanted to eat it all right there.”

The little boy dressed in the lion costume would never live to see another Halloween. Garrett Bailey Rice, 1, died just days later from a lethal dose of oxycodone. Atkins shared the Halloween memory and others in hopes of bringing a human face to a tragedy that has been shrouded with a criminal investigation and a civil lawsuit.

“I see the death of my son being used for all the wrong reasons,” Atkins said. “The innocent life that he had has been lost through all of this.

“I want people to know about Garrett and what kind of boy he was.”

Atkins said Garrett brought much joy into the lives of all who knew him. She knew the instant she gave birth to him on Oct. 25 that her son was something special.

“Hearing him cry for the first time was the best part of it all,” she said. “I can’t really explain what that was like.”

Every milestone proved to be special for Atkins. She remembers her son’s first Christmas and how he would just stare at the twinkling lights. She remembers his first steps at her mother’s house in Oklahoma City.

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