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September 20, 2017

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Basic High students return to classes, subdued, after teacher’s slaying

Choir to perform during Tuesday concert and Wednesday memorial service


Richard Brian

A makeshift memorial for Basic High school choir teacher Matthew Thomas Cox is seen outside his classroom.

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Matthew Thomas Cox

Basic High School teacher memorial

A makeshift memorial for Basic High school choir teacher Matthew Thomas Cox is seen outside Basic High. Launch slideshow »

Matthew Cox Memorial

  • Where: Basic High School, 400 Palo Verde Drive, in the gym
  • When: Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.
  • The public is welcome to attend.

Basic High School choir students are remembering teacher Matthew Cox through performances they perfected during his classes.

Cox was discovered dead in his home Dec. 22. Police and the coroner's office later determined Cox had been strangled during a robbery. Jose A. Delatorre, 18, and a 17-year-old former student of Cox have been charged in his death.

The choir is scheduled to perform 7 p.m. Tuesday to make up a concert from Dec. 17 that had been canceled for snow. They will sing again at 6 p.m. Wednesday at a memorial service for Cox. Both of those concerts will be at Basic High School, 400 Palo Verde Drive, Henderson.

Cox, 32, a Michigan native, was hired as Basic's choir teacher in 2006.

Delatorre is scheduled to be arraigned on charges of murder, robbery, burglary and kidnapping at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Henderson Justice Court. He was being held at the Henderson Detention Center without bail. The 17-year-old, identified as Delatorre's brother, was being charged as a juvenile and held at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center.

A friend of Cox found his body Dec. 22 when she arrived to take care of his cats.

Meanwhile his mother, Debra Armstrong, waited at the airport for Cox to arrive home for Christmas, she said.

Monday, the first day back to school after Cox's death, was tough for many of the students, Assistant Principal Roxanne Kelley said.

"It's kind of quiet today on campus," she said.

Normally after winter break, students are full of energy and excited to see their friends, she said, but the students were subdued and seemed to be showing their respect.

Grief counselors were brought in to speak with anyone who needed it.

Cox, a member of Western Michigan University's Phi Mu Alpha chapter, spent much of his life performing and teaching, family and friends said.

Nearly 30 of his fraternity brothers from college were at the Saturday funeral to sing in his memory, Kelley said. She flew to Michigan to attend.

"It was so moving because they all knew Matt," she said. "The love for this man and what he did with the kids and his talent was so amazing."

The students began sharing many of their memories through memorials at Basic after his death was announced. They were taken down before students returned to class Monday and will be packaged and sent to Armstrong, Kelley said.

"His mom wanted the mementos for herself," she said. "It was hard for her to read them (when she was in town)."

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].

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