The body found in the aftermath of an apartment fire Saturday at Camelot Apartments has been identified as 21-year-old Nicholas R. Bice, a resident of the apartment where the fire occurred.
The mother of Nicholas Bice — whose body was found Saturday in his Canandaigua apartment during a fire investigation — was killed when he was a toddler in a crime his father was accused of committing, serving three years in prison after reaching a plea agreement with Florida prosecutors.
Police in Ontario County are continuing an aggressive multi-agency investigation to determine what happened to Bice, 21, who was identified Tuesday by Canandaigua City Police Chief Stephen Hedworth as the victim of a homicide. The cause of the fire at Bice's Camelot Square Apartments residence, also still under investigation, has been ruled arson. No one has yet been charged in either crime.
The cause of Bice's death will also be looked into by the Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner, which frequently assists outside counties in homicide investigations.
Bice, according to Lenore Friend, director of Public Relations and Community Affairs at Finger Lakes Community College, was a second-year student in the business administration degree program.
“We are aware of his death, and we are looking into how we can respond with counseling,” she said.
Counselors are also available in the Canandaigua City School District, from which Brice graduated in 2014.
“Our counseling staff has been apprised of the situation, and they're obviously on hand if somebody needs to talk to someone,” district Superintendent Jamie Farr said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they navigate the difficulty ahead.”
Bice was 2, according to published reports, when the body of his mother, Jacqueline Sheehan, was found a couple of miles from her apartment in Longwood, Florida, about an hour from Orlando, which Bice listed on his Facebook page as his hometown.
Bice's father, Rodney Bice, and Sheehan were not married, but living together at the time in what Seminole County deputies termed an on-again, off-again relationship.
The case was cold until 2013 when Rodney Bice was arrested in Canandaigua and charged on a Seminole County warrant with second-degree murder in connection with Sheehan's death.
Two years later, a plea deal was reached with Florida state prosecutors and Rodney Bice, then 43, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but given credit for a year served.
Florida prosecutors accepted the plea because their only witness, a friend of Rodney Bice's to whom he had allegedly confessed killing Sheehan, refused to testify and he was the basis of their case.
Rodney Bice was released from prison in the spring of 2016 and expected to return to his Phoenix Street home in Canandaigua.
Sheehan's sister, Linda Call, said she has had little contact with her niece and nephew through the years, accusing Rodney Bice of keeping them from Sheehan's family. Call said she was able to connect with Bice's older sister several years ago on social media, but the child somehow found out the family believed her father had killed their mother and cut ties “and did not want anything to do with us after that.”
Call said her daughter learned of Bice's death on social media.
“It's terrible,” she said. “I cried. I don't think I cried like that when my parents died because I knew that was coming and they were both pretty sick. I just had a crying jag that night. It's just so sad. Our whole family is very sad about this.”
Call's parents, John and Faye Sheehan, Bice's grandparents, died in August and April, respectively. Each suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
The fire in Bice's apartment was discovered about 11 a.m. Saturday by another tenant who saw smoke and alerted authorities. Hedworth said after the body was found, state police and the Ontario County Sheriff's Department were called in to assist with the investigation which is ongoing.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Canandaigua police at (585) 396-5035.