Community Remembers 2 JHS Seniors
The Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel confirms Joplin High School senior RJ Daniels died from a gunshot wound. He says it appears to be accidental but that the Joplin Police Department is still investigating that. He also confirms Spencer Nicodemus died of a crush wound to the torso. The community continues to mourn the loss of those 2 students. Both died in separate accidents on Thursday.
Two high school seniors on very different paths but both Spencer Nicodemus and RJ Daniels are described as leaders known for helping and encouraging others.
Daniels was enrolled in the Joplin night FLEX program, getting back on track after dropping out of school.
“He found his purpose, he found his motive but he also was trying to help others to find theirs along the way. He knew what it was to struggle and that makes him my hero,” says one of his teachers Debbie Leatherman.
She and her husband Steve Leatherman both taught Daniels and say with his seat empty, class simply won’t be the same. Despite a tough exterior and love for batman, they say he was supportive and always at the center of the crowd.
“When you first look at him you might think oh gosh he might be trouble but when you knew him, he was a really, really good guy,” says Steve Leatherman.
Spencer Nicodemus or “Nico” is also being remembered as a caring young man. Hundreds gather on Sunday to help raise money for his family by fishing, one of his favorite things to do.
“He had some evident passions that was the outdoors and just helping people. He was involved with helping special needs kids, peer buddies and mentoring freshman and that was just some of the things he really loved doing,” says Jake Young, one of his close friends.
With a contagious smile, friends say he was always having a good time.
“If you’re having a bad day, he was the guy to see,” says Spencer Swanson.
“I’ll miss his laugh. You could be in a room full of anybody and you could recognize his laugh. He was just one of the greatest friends that I’ve had and it’s terrible that we have to move on without him,” says Austin Landis.
Young, Swanson and Landis helped to organize the fishing fundraiser with all proceeds from tournament admission, silent auction and raffle items going to the family.
Despite leading different lives, both students are well loved and will be dearly missed.
Funeral arrangements for Daniels have not yet been confirmed. A memorial service for Nicodemus will be held Monday at 6 p.m. in the Joplin High School Performing Arts Center.
Go Fund Me pages have been made for both Nicodemus and Daniels.