MILTON — The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday announced an arrest in the 2015 cold case killing of Stephen Richmond Rice.

John Travis Palmer, 37, was charged with first-degree murder in the case and was being held at Santa Rosa County Jail. Palmer was arrested Monday, and bond was set at $500,000 at his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.

His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 3. Prosecutors say they would like to convene a grand jury in the next three weeks to indict Palmer on first-degree premeditated murder.

Sheriff Bob Johnson was joined by Assistant State Attorney John Molchan for the announcement.

"It was a long-term investigation, but certain things came up lately that led detectives to the arrest," Johnson said. "It's still ongoing ... even though he's been arrested and the Major Crimes Division is still following up so we can't comment on (motive).

"Even though it was four years ago, we never stopped. If it's a homicide case in Santa Rosa County, we never stop, and hopefully we'll see some more cold cases come to an end here shortly," he added. "We have some going back as far as the 1980s, and we're looking at all of them."

Rice, 44, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head on March 26, 2015, when deputies were conducting a welfare check at his home in Milton.

Palmer was initially a suspect in the case, but multiple witnesses came forward in the last week to say he had confessed to them that he killed Rice.

Molchan said the state's death penalty committee will meet at a later date to determine whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole for Palmer. That is the standard procedure in all first-degree murder cases.

At Tuesday's court appearance, Assistant State Attorney Matt Gordon gave a few details on the killing.

It "was committed in cold blood, while (Rice) was lying on the couch," he said.

Gordon also pointed out Palmer's extensive arrest record, including a 2015 conviction for grand theft and several more arrests for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. Gordon also cited Palmer's juvenile record, which he said included an alcohol-related arrest.