Lincoln police found Jarvis James Long’s body in Peter Pan Park Thursday morning and are investigating his death as a homicide.
Thursday evening, his friends reminisced about the 27-year-old they described as a jokester, the life of the party, a guy who could pick them up when they were feeling low.
One day, Nazarth Carroll recalled, Long popped out of a convenience store with a Snickers in his hand, jumped in the car and said, "I just wanna thank God for the people who created chocolate."
People who live near the park called police at 10:40 Thursday morning, and officers found the body with obvious wounds near 31st and W streets, Officer Katie Flood said.
Police on Thursday did not release any additional information.
Long's body was found in the southwest corner of the park, near ball fields and a bike trail.
His friend, Scott Nannen, 26, said Long grew up in Lincoln and went to Southeast High School.
Dinah Phillips said her nephew was a good guy who never bothered or hurt anybody.
But Long grew a little distant after his mom -- Phillips' sister -- died of cancer eight or nine years ago, she said.
He still gave out hugs and flashed smiles when he was with family, she said, but it was different.
“He’s been alone ever since. Even though family’s around, he’s always felt alone,” she said. “Family falls apart when things like that happen.”
Michael Reed, 38, lives next to the park, a couple hundred feet from where police found Long’s body.
“This is scary,” Reed said. “We’ve never had anything like that happen before.”
Reed’s wife, 33-year-old Kendra Noller, said her neighborhood is filled with families with young children. She usually knows the driver of a car rolling by because they live close by. Her three kids ride bikes down the street and play with other children in the park and she doesn't worry too much about it.
But that’s going to change, Noller said.
“It definitely puts more restrictions on the kids going outside,” she said.
This is Lincoln’s first homicide of the year, and the first since Dec. 1, when 22-year-old Hector Antonio Lopez burst into a Near South apartment and killed a gang rival, 20-year-old Erick Porcallo Musito.
After a standoff with police the next day, Lopez shot and killed himself.