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High School Instructor, Student Found Shot to Death in Pasadena

December 13, 1985|DEBORAH HASTINGS | Times Staff Writer

A popular Pasadena high school teacher and a 17-year-old student were found shot to death Thursday morning at the instructor's home.

"We're not really sure what happened," Pasadena police Agent Richard Sandoval said Thursday. "About all we know is that we have two dead people."

The bodies of Robert E. Jones, 55, a social sciences teacher at John Muir High School, and Ronald McClendon, a junior varsity basketball player at the school, were found at about 10 a.m.

Muir Principal Jim Charles said he sent two guards to the home in the affluent Lower Hastings Ranch area, after Jones failed to show up for class.

The guards summoned police when they could get no response from knocking on the door. Jones' car was parked in the driveway.

Police, accompanied by the guards, entered the home in the 3700 block of Newhaven Road and found the youth's body on the living room couch in a sleeping bag. Jones was in bed in his bedroom. Both had been shot once in the head and once in the body, apparently as they slept, investigators said.

"They never knew what hit them," Detective Sgt. Bertram Whittaker said.

No weapon was found and there was no sign of a burglary, but the back door of the house was unlocked, the detective added.

News of the deaths rocked the high school on the city's west side, where Jones had been employed since 1975. Charles said Jones, chairman of the social science department, was one of the best-liked and respected teachers at Muir. Fifth- and sixth-period classes were canceled Thursday in honor of Jones and Ronald.

"The student body, the faculty, everyone is in tears," Charles said. "I can't even describe it. No one can believe it. No one can understand how something like this could happen. . . ."

Police said they did not know why Ronald had been staying with the teacher.

Charles said Ronald, a junior, was a "good basketball player and a regular student," with no history of trouble at school. Jones, he said, was known for befriending students in need.

"If a young person needed shelter, if they needed something, a kind word, a little help, he was the type of person to provide it for them," the principal said.

Police said they have no witnesses, nor did anyone in the neighborhood recall hearing anything out of the ordinary during the night or morning. The last person to see both alive was a good friend of Jones, who had stopped by the teacher's home about 7 p.m. Wednesday night while they were preparing dinner, Whittaker said.

Charles said he sent students home Thursday with a letter to their parents, explaining what had happened.

Teachers immediately began a scholarship fund in Jones' name, Charles said.

"I wish you could have been here today," the principal said. "You would have seen a whole student body in mourning."

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