Community reacts to youth’s crime, suicide

Claypole - Credit Salinas CalifornianDressed in baggy clothing, topped with an over-sized baseball cap and zoning out to his favorite playlist—these are the limited details used to describe former Carmel High student Joshua Claypole, who was recently arrested for murder and carjacking and subsequently committed suicide while in custody.

For his short stint of enrollment at CHS from fall 2008 to winter 2009, Claypole is remembered for having a less-than-stellar academic record.

“Josh was very quiet, a shy kid,” freshman Biology teacher Brian Granbery says. “He was not a great student, probably a C-/D student.”

CHS principal Rick Lopez says, “My impression is that Claypole did not really engage or connect at school.”

Even though Claypole did not appear to be engaged in learning, his teachers don’t classify him as a troublemaker.

“He wasn’t a bad kid,” freshman English teacher Hans Schmidt says. “He was uninterested in school but never malicious. He would rather sit in his desk and look out the window.”

While Claypole is described as quiet and introverted by his teachers, his friends describe him in a much different manner, noting increasingly introverted behavior and involvement with drugs.

2012 CHS graduate Emilio Eizner, who spent time with Claypole from a young age in Big Sur, remembers him as fiery, fierce, outgoing and passionate: “Sometimes he would be aggressive and right in your face.” While Eizner remembers Claypole’s more flamboyant characteristics, he also notes that Claypole was loving with those around him.

Another 2012 graduate, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes Claypole as funny, happy, genuinely real and always looking for a good time.

While his friends knew him well, teachers at CHS struggled to make personal relationships with Claypole because he was always “in and out of class,” according to Schmidt. Yet most teachers agree that Claypole showed no warning signs of future violence.

“He was just a normal kid,” Algebra I teacher Jody Roberts says. “There were never any warning signs. I was never concerned.”

On May 1, Claypole was arrested by the Seaside Police Department at 1:30 p.m., following the carjacking of a red pickup truck and the stabbing of Daniel Huerta in the Monterey Enterprise car rental lot, according to Monterey P.D. Lieutenant Leslie Sonne.

“It’s a tragic incident,” Lopez says, “but it is uncomfortable to bring that conversation back to the school. I don’t think the school created this situation.”

However, some teachers at CHS believe the school could have recognized potential concerns.

“He was one of those students who fell between the cracks at Carmel High,” Granbery says. “There were trouble signs that the high school didn’t catch on to.”

The 2012 graduate requesting anonymity remembers his own experimental middle school years with Claypole. “We were all stoners pretty early on in middle school and early high school,” he says. “We drank from time to time, but a few people in our group definitely took it too far.”

Claypole’s friend goes on to explain that many students started to experiment with “thizz,” or ecstasy, as well as other prescription pills. Attempting to avoid hard drugs, the 2012 grad began to lose contact with Claypole.

“I couldn’t believe that no one tried to reach out to help him out,” the grad says. “Apparently [Claypole] went downhill really fast.”

Eizner backs up that sentiment: “He was a good kid, he just had problems, some with drugs, some internally, and he honestly did not have the resources to deal with his issues properly.”

Current CHS freshman Nico Holloman was babysat by Claypole for most of his childhood. Holloman’s last interaction with Claypole was a little over a year ago, yet Holloman vividly remembers Claypole’s transition from an outgoing teenager to a withdrawn individual.

“There was a time where you could tell he was happy with his friends,” Holloman says. “Although, every day you could tell he was getting a little bit more depressed and introverted.”

Holloman also recounts his impression of Claypole’s interactions with drugs.

“The combination of drugs really warped his brain,” Holloman says. “When he was a young kid, you could tell he was really bright and sharp, but over a period of time, you could tell his mind was dulling.”

As time progressed, Holloman also noted that Claypole enjoyed talking less and less about his personal life.

“He never liked to feel vulnerable,” Holloman says. “He would never let himself open up or put himself into a situation where he could be exposed.”

While those who knew Claypole are open in sharing his struggles, none makes excuses for his recent actions.

“I think this was a byproduct of either a kid who lost it mentally or a kid who lost it mentally in response to a drug problem,” Schmidt says. “When you stab someone twenty or forty times, you are obviously somewhere else mentally.”

-COLIN O’GRADY