On the evening of January 10, 2013, 17 year-old Kendrick Johnson, a sophomore at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, GA, was reported missing by his mother. Kendrick never returned home after leaving for school earlier that morning. Kendrick’s body was discovered inside a large, rolled-up wrestling mat inside the school’s gym the following day. Since the shocking discovery of their son’s death, the Johnson family has been yearning for answers and justice.
Lowndes County investigators’ official story was that Kendrick died of positional asphyxia. They said their investigation concluded that Kendrick had climbed on top of the six-foot-tall rolled-up gym mat while trying to obtain a shoe. While on top of the mat, he accidentally slipped head first into the opening, got stuck, and eventually died of asphyxiation.
When Kendrick’s body was found and removed from the mat, there was a pool of blood on the floor below his head. The county officials said the blood spilled after his heart stopped pumping and after he died. Kendrick’s parents say the blood and other evidence shows that Kendrick was murdered.
Among a storm of unanswered questions, improbabilities, poor police work, and lack of cooperation from local law enforcement, the Johnson family has been fighting for the last 4 years to find out what really happened to their 17 year-old child that day.
In a recent interview with radio show, My Skin Is My Sin, Kendrick’s mother (Jacquelyn Johnson) spoke about the current status of the investigation of her son’s death. Listen to the interview below.
Kendrick Johnson….WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU…ft: his mother Jacquelyn Johnson
Unanswered Questions and Holes in the official story
The investigation of Kendrick’s death was littered with questionable actions and statements from local law enforcement. It’s extremely hard to believe that this investigation was not tainted from the start. Many questions continue to go unanswered.
No blood on shoe: There was a pool of blood under the gym mat where Kendrick had been however, no blood was found on the shoe that he had allegedly climbed onto the mat to retrieve. The shoe that investigators claimed was found inches below Kendrick’s head, had no blood on it. If this shoe was where investigators claimed it was when they found Kendrick, it would have been directly beneath Kendrick’s upside down body. If the blood on the ground came from Kendrick after he had gotten stuck in the mat, the shoe should have been covered in blood as well.
Unclaimed blood: There was blood located on a vertical beam in the gym where Kendrick’s body was found. Lowndes County’s Lieutenant Stryde Jones stated that the blood was tested and it was not Kendrick’s blood, however there was never any attempt to find out whose blood it was or how it got on the wall at the scene. A trash can in one of the bathrooms was also found filled with bloody paper towels. These were quickly dismissed by saying a female had gotten injured in the gym the night before.
Contaminated scene: The paramedics that arrived at the scene noticed bruising on Kendrick’s body, including bruises to his neck and face. They said the scene should be considered a crime scene, however the law enforcement agencies did not secure the area with crime scene tape. They also neglected to wear any shoe protectors to avoid contaminating the scene as they walked around.
Poor police work: The coroner wasn’t called until six hours after Kendrick’s body was discovered. The coroner told CNN that the scene had been compromised and the original report he wrote was changed by Lowndes County Sheriff. “The investigative climate was very poor to worse when I arrived at the scene. The body had been noticeably moved, the scene had been compromised, and there was no cooperation from law enforcement at the scene. Information necessary for my lawful investigation was withheld,” said the coroner.
Second autopsy: Kendrick’s parents exhumed their son’s body and hired a doctor to conduct a second autopsy. The autopsy showed that Kendrick died from a blow to the neck and not accidental suffocation. The autopsy also revealed that all of Kendrick’s major organs had been removed and his body had been stuffed with newspaper.
Items unaccounted for: A pair of black gym shoes and a gray hooded sweatshirt were found yards from Kendrick’s body. The items had red stains on them that Kendrick’s parents believed could have been blood. Investigators said the red stains were not blood, so they did not collect the shoes or hoodie as evidence. There was no indication that investigators even looked for the owner of the shoes or hooded sweatshirt that was also found near Kendrick’s body.
Missing video footage: Lowdnes High School was supposed to hand over all the surveillance video from the gym the morning Kendrick’s body was discovered, however the IT Tech said there was a problem and handed over the video days later. Kendrick’s family had to sue the school to get access to the video. CNN also gained access to the video and had experts evaluate the footage. These experts said the footage was “highly suspicious” because there were hours of footage missing from the video.
Help bring awareness to this case again by sharing this article with your friends, family, and associates. You can also help by donating to the Kendrick Johnson Foundation. This is a foundation the Johnson family started that has a mission to raise awareness on the need for increased supervision and safety within public schools.