BEAUFORT, S.C. (WCIV) - Alex Apps spent 12 years of his life playing practical jokes and honing his craft as a writer at Beaufort Academy.
"I still have an essay that he wrote when he was in AP US History," said Bill Dalton, a History and English teacher at Beaufort Academy. "And it was the first in-class essay of the year."
Dalton says Apps was a great soccer player on the field, but his writing was what helped him stand out in the classroom.
"Using the word 'fledgling' in correct context is not -- you're not going to get a lot of 10th graders," said Dalton.
Every year, Bill Dalton reads one of Apps' essays to his classes in hopes of motivating his current students to think like Alex did.
"He had a very high vocabulary at that time," said Dalton. "For that essay, he was probably 16 and just a really fluid writing style. He wrote much more like an orient or a college student than the typical high school student does."
When Dalton heard 25-year-old Apps was missing Monday afternoon, he said he had hope he would be found safely.
"We had a former student and the same kind of thing happened and they were okay," said Dalton. "So, I only got two hours of that illusion, hoping that he just hadn't called home."
On Tuesday, Dalton was faced with a harsh reality. Deputies say Apps was kidnapped, robbed and murdered. They say his body was dumped in a wooded area of Mount Pleasant.
"It's so pointless, senseless and absurd," said Dalton. "It's hard to even imagine it. It unfortunately mixes up a lot of feelings of anger into the grieving you're going through."
Meanwhile, Dalton uses Apps' essay as a mean of comfort, in hopes that his legacy lives through his love for writing.
School officials hope to eventually create a memorial in Apps' honor.