Skeletal remains found in 2020 lead to Springdale man behind bars

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Springdale man is in jail after the investigation of skeletal remains found near Decatur in March of 2020 led to his arrest.

Luis Guillermo Rodriguez-Martinez, 26, is held in the Benton County jail on a $200,000 bond. 

Luis Guillermo Rodriguez-Martinez, 26, is held in the Benton County jail.

The remains were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and identified as Kevin Gonzalez, 25, who was last seen on April 12, 2019, according to court documents.

Rodriguez-Martinez is facing felony charges of hindering apprehension or prosecution, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with physical evidence.

Police have not yet confirmed how Gonzalez died.

Rodriguez-Martinez was previously arrested in 2019 for failure to appear, in 2016 for robbery, and in 2020 for failure to pay.

Court documents, which are heavily redacted as the case is ongoing, suggest Gonzalez was shot in an apartment in Decatur. Police have not reported at this time how Rodriguez-Martinez is connected to Gonzalez’s death.

This is a developing story. Stay with KNWA/Fox 24 for more updates.


Wanted man arrested after homicide in Marionville

MARIONVILLE, Mo. — A man wanted for an overnight homicide in lawrence county is now in police custody.

Jamie Lee Godfrey was apprehended around three this afternoon. Police had been looking for him since just before midnight, after they were called to a Marionville home for a disturbance.

When they arrived, they found 50-year-old Jess Davis dead inside with multiple lacerations.

A weapon likely used in the murder was found at the scene.

Police are pursuing charges of murder and armed criminal action against Godfrey.


EPA conducting clean up project in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kans. — A clean-up project by the EPA is underway in Pittsburg.

It’s taking place on a field on East 4th Street, across from the Mission Clay Products property.

Crews are working to remove contaminated soil. City leaders say the land isn’t far from the old smelter sites, and they became concerned when the church that owns the property started allowing people to play soccer there.

That’s when they had the land tested.

Now, the EPA is conducting a two week project where it will remove the contaminated soil, add new soil and sod, and then water the area to help bring it back to life.

“We just feel safer knowing that work has been done and that this area is clean and safe,” said Jay Byers, Deputy City Manager.

The city hopes to purchase the 100 acres across from the property and redevelop it as part of Pittsburg’s Mid-City Renaissance Project.


Pittsburg company US Awards is celebrating expansion

PITTSBURG, Kans. — A Pittsburg business is growing.

US Awards broke ground on an expansion project this morning.

The 15 thousand square foot expansion will be located just north of its current location on East Washington Street.

With the extra room, the company plans to add more products to its current lineup.

“So far, US Business is going well and we’re growing and we need more space we need to grow for the future, and so it’s to get a little bit of room,” said Joe Dellasega, President, US Awards.

The company also plans to hire new employees to work on the project. It’s expected to be finished by February of next year.


Neosho Schools wellness program receives multiple awards

NEOSHO, Mo. — Thanks to hard work, a Neosho Schools program has received multiple awards.

The Neosho School District’s “Wellness Program” — a program dedicated to faculty to better their health has received both the platinum “Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition” award at the state level, and the “Wellness Council of America” bronze award at the national level.

“I do set up monthly challenges for the staff, we also have a web site that has tones of resources for the staff if they are not able to do physical activities, they can do a lot of videos for diabetes, or cholesterol, just a lot of videos for awareness,” said Chelsey Davenport – Neosho Schools Wellness Coordinator

Davenport adds over 500 of Neosho schools faculty are on the wellness program.


Neosho to expand inclusivity to children in park by early spring

NEOSHO, Mo. — One Neosho park will soon be more inclusive for kids.

The city received a 5,000 dollar grant from the Arvest Foundation. the money will go towards a new ADA inclusive swing set, a sidewalk and mulch in big spring park.

Something Parks Director Clint Dalbom says is important for kids.

“We want this park to be used by all walks, you know anybody to have access to this. And young people need places to play. And an outdoor setting like this, a pretty setting like this, it’s very important,” said Clint Dalbom, Neosho Parks Director

The swing set is expected to be fully operational come early spring.


Joplin food shortage effecting operations of schools throughout the area

JOPLIN, Mo. — A food shortage for schools is causing Joplin to change how it operates.

This shortage is causing the schools to put out orders for food up to a month in advance. And even though they order well in advance, many items are still on backorder

Joplin Schools are currently finding it hard to come by chicken, pizza, individually wrapped breakfast sandwiches, yogurt and even Styrofoam plates and cups.

Because of this, they’ve had to improvise.

“If we don’t have a chicken biscuit, we sub out something else. So, we’re always offering food to the students, it just may not be the largest variety we’re accustomed to,” said Rick Kenkel – Joplin Schools Director For Child Nutrition.

Because of this, they’ve also been spending more money to feed students.

“We do a contract bid every year, and they’ve all come back and said due to national shortages, they can’t get it, they’re raising their prices a little bit,” said Kenkel.

With higher prices and less options, the district is forced to buy in bulk up to a month in advance.

While it’s efficient, it also causes more work.

“We want them individually wrapped, so that the students so the students don’t touch other food, or ready to eat foods, so we will then be effected in that fashion that we have an increased labor,” said Kenkel.

Kenkel adds if it wasn’t for their warehouse, they wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

“The Joplin School District is very fortunate to have a warehouse. If we were a school who did not have a warehouse, we couldn’t definitely, couldn’t store quantities of that far in advance,” said Kenkel.

Although certain food options aren’t available, East Middle Principal, Jason Cravens says they don’t notice the shortage thanks to the work of their staff.

“We have not seen any side affects to food shortages at the school, and again our kids are fed well, lunches flow well and things are going well in that area,” said Jason Cravens, East Middle School Principal.

Joplin Schools have six different food distributors to help them out as well.

Kenkel adds that helps them out greatly during the shortage because of one distributor doesn’t have an item, they have other options to choose from.


Joplin agriculture workers make more than national average

JOPLIN, Mo. — There’s good news for Joplin area residents who make their living in agriculture.

According to a report from “commodity-dot-com” — people in the Joplin metro who work in farming, fishing and forestry, make a cost-of-living-adjusted wage of over 37 thousand dollars a year.

Not bad, considering the national average is nearly 30 thousand.

Not bad for business either.

“From a cost of doing business standpoint our cost of doing business is unparalleled with I-44 and 49 and US 69 across the region, workers can get to and from work pretty easily, commodities coming in and out of the region uh pretty easily uh we’re pretty heavy into food and beverage manufacturing,” said Tony Robyn, Director, MOKAN Partnership.

More good news to come out of the report.

Joplin is the 53rd best paying small metro area in the county for agricultural workers.

It’s also the 78th highest compensated area overall. As a state, Missouri ranks 21st for Ag employee compensation.


MSSU's "Major-Minor" event helps students choose what they want to study

JOPLIN, Mo. — Some students choose their majors prior to the start of college, but, of course, that isn’t always the case for every student.

At Missouri Southern, that’s where the university’s ACTS department comes in. It stands for Advising, Counseling and Testing Services.

Every year, it puts on this event — a Major-Minor Fair.

A way to help educate students when it comes to the different options from which they have to choose.

“It’s for all those undecided majors, usually freshmen and sophomores to kind of meet all the different departments that are out there and uh we’re hoping they find their academic home and then have a major and find an advisor,” said Dr. William Mountz, MSSU Advising, Counseling & Testing Services.

This event started in 2011. Last year’s version was done virtually, due to the pandemic.


Joplin cardiologist sees COVID survivors recover from long-term cardiovascular health issues

JOPLIN, Mo. – A year ago, 44-year-old Joplin native and resident Jennifer Parks lived a fairly normal life.

“I literally worked 48 to 56 hours a week, I took care of two kid,” explains Parks.

But since getting COVID-19 in November of last year, it’s been a much different story.

“I have to be dependent on other people,” says Parks.

She spent 33 days on a ventilator, two months in the hospital after getting off the vent, and then some time at a nursing home in Seneca.

“I had to move in with my mom because I had a stroke.. a COVID induced stroke in the hospital,” says Parks.

Now things have been so much different. She can walk some using a walker, but is wheelchair bound most of the time. She also has a number of physical long-term side effects from COVID, including cardiovascular issues like blood clots in her legs and feet.

“I went from taking zero pills, to taking seven pills every morning,” says Parks. “Like last night, my leg was on fire. And legs and my feet were on fire. There wasn’t anything I could do about it.”

Freeman Cardiologist Dr. Robert Stauffer explains cardiovascular issues are becoming a more common thing for people with “Long COVID Syndrome.”

“This effects all patients. Whether they’re 13-year-olds, or they’re 70-year-olds or their 40-year-olds,” says Dr. Stauffer. “They present with a lot of symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, what they call brain fog. They’re just not 100 percent.”

But another thing that he’s noticing — a lot of them are being able to make a full recovery.

“I saw a cross country runner, for example, who could run ten miles without even thinking twice. He couldn’t walk across campus after COVID for about three months. And then after that, I saw him back another time, he got completely better. So, I think there’s a lot of hope out there if you’re one of those people who have this sort of long COVID syndrome,” says Dr. Stauffer. “Some of these patients, they got really sick, bounced back very quick. Some patients with mild to moderate disease, they don’t bounce back as quick. And the one thing I just tell patients is, be patient.”

That is good news for many who are still living with symptoms that impact their way of life. Unfortunately for Parks, since COVID hit her so incredibly hard, it’s looking more and more like that won’t be the case.

“It’s take this pill, and take this pill until it stops working, and then we’ll find something else. Mentally, it’s a rough thing. Like I said, I’m 45 and I have to be dependent on people,” says Parks. “You thank God every day that you’re alive. I don’t put off things because you never know when it’s gonna be your last day.”

“There is a small subset of patients who had COVID pneumonia or myocarditis, things like that, that will have long-term effects from this virus and will have to deal with that in the years to come. So those are the patients we have to be really careful about,” says Dr. Stauffer. “That’s the reason to get vaccinated though. If you look at patients who got vaccinated, they tend not to get Long COVID Syndrome. So, one more reason to get vaccinated cause this is not something that you can say, ‘I’m gonna tough it out for two or three days and be better.’ You don’t want to deal with the situation where it’s months later and you can’t do anything.”