What Happened to Kendrick Johnson?

by Evette Dionne

Kendrick Johnson

Kendrick Johnson was found dead 110 days ago. The sophomore’s bruised and battered frame was hidden in a rolled-up mat in Georgia’s Lowndes High School’s gymnasium. Johnson’s parents believe he was murdered and are seeking answers and justice.

Authorities ruled his death accidental, claiming Johnson was ensnared in the mat while attempting to retrieve a piece of clothing. A preliminary autopsy found no signs of struggle or injuries congruent with a murder. The case was closed soon after the autopsy results were released.

This explanation hasn’t persuaded Johnson’s father. Kenneth Johnson believes his son was murdered and left in the mat to be discovered.

“He was last seen third block going to fourth block, he was seen no more,” Johnson told the local news affiliate, WALB. “Then again, I want to express how did my son go missing during school hours in broad daylight? We know our son was murdered while he was at Lowndes High School. We do know that.”

A graphic photo shows Johnson with visible lacerations on his face. The coroner claims the injuries are due to all of the blood rushing to his head while he was attempting to escape the map.

These explanations are not satiating the Johnson’s quest for answers. His parents have requested a complete autopsy, but allege authorities have not been cooperative or transparent about their investigation. Lowndes High School’s administration refuses to release security camera footage of Johnson entering the gymnasium or what occurred in the moments prior to his death.

The sheriff’s department did not contact the coroner until six hours after Johnson’s body was discovered, leading speculation that evidence was either removed or tampered with prior to the notification of death. The coroner, Bill Watson, claims his investigation was compromised by the delay.

“This was not fair to the decedent, his family, and the citizens of Valdosta and Lowndes County, Ga. And it’s wrong as rain,” Watson told the Examiner.

He continued. “Well it compromises my investigation one hundred percent. I don’t know what the county did when they got there on the scene. The body had been moved. The scene, in my opinion, had been compromised.”

All of these missteps are prompting the Johnson family to continue probing for answers. On April 25, Johnson’s parents staged a demonstration at the Lowndes Judicial Complex in Valdosta, Georgia. Supporters chanted and held “No Justice, No Peace” signs before blocking the front door to the complex.

Johnson’s parents and five other supporters were arrested for civil obedience, but still plan to continue protesting until a resolution is reached.

A final autopsy was conducted, but the results haven’t been released by the GBI Crime Lab. The sheriff’s department has no approximate estimation for when the results will be available.

“We certainly would like to get it as fast as anybody but we don’t know when the GBI will be able to complete this testing,” Lt. Stryde Jones of the Lowndes Co. Sheriff’s Office told The Global Dispatch.

“We’re still waiting the final facts and to close it out prematurely and to make a premature decision would just be totally wrong, and we wouldn’t be doing justice to the family, to the community, or to ourselves as a law enforcement agency,” Jones explained.

Johnson’s father is still grieving. He asked local reporters, “How can you go on when you have a beloved child who wakes up everybody in the house and makes a laugh out of everything, how can you go on? It’s hard.”

However, the family’s mourning is not keeping them from seeking justice for Kendrick.

The question we must all continue to ask is: What happened to Kendrick Johnson?

  • DEE

    This is absolutely terrible, especially if the evidence was tampered.

    Every family at least deserves to know what happened in cases like this.

  • sixfoota

    Entangled in the mat searching for clothing? C’mon, now. I read yesterday he was jumped & left for dead. There are so many versions of what happened but I do hope we find out what REALLY happened.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    Entangled in the mat searching for clothing? What kind of God made fool would believe this?

  • http://gravatar.com/jandreab25 jandreab25

    How do you become ensnarled in a floor mat? I’ve tripped on a mat, but I’ve never encountered a mat that could rise up as if a force of wind empowered it,captured my body and rolled me into it, thereby suffocating me to death… I totally don’t buy this story.

  • http://sownbrooklyn.wordpress.com nettie

    I don’t even know what to say about this. I have two sons and I expect them to be, reasonably, safe in school. And if not, for the school to be transparent about what occurred. What are they hiding? How is it even legal for them to refuse to turn over the footage? Why wouldn’t that raise suspicion with the police? This makes absolutely no sense. Unless the child or children of someone influential attend the school and had something to do with this. That wouldn’t excuse it, but it would at least explain it.

  • Dalili

    I am astounded that a group of (presumably) intelligent people decided this was the best and most logical explanation they could give for a cover up; I mean really??!! I hope his parents continue to seek answers and that whatever powers maybe is on their side. Goodness gracious!!

  • Child, Please

    It shocks and saddens me that this man’s family must suffer like this. I’m not surprised this happened in Valdosta; there was a story about a female college student who’s parents found out she was dead via social media and needless to say – just as this story – the case poorly handled. My heart goes out to the family.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    *He was a 17-year-old boy, not a man.

  • Anthony

    Stories like this make me happy that I am no longer young. It is just too easy for black boys to die in this world.

  • Minnie

    This is absolutely ridiculous! We all need 2 help in the protest of getting justice 4 all our young blk men. It scares me how authorities can just dismiss the deaths of men like him. I tell my little brother everyday 2 stay aware & smart on the b.s. our society place upon us smh. I’ll be speading this story & pray 4 his family.

  • Pat

    I hope this family does not give up until the truth is discovered. It is obvious that there is a cover up and it seems as if it’s pointing to someone [within] the administration. Or maybe it is one of their children (a student at the school) involved. It’s just not settling well with me that the security tapes aren’t being released. This is so sad and this tragedy makes you realize more and more just how less our boys’ lives still mean to some areas. Since this entire situation is being handled in such a nonchalant manner, I think a FBI investigation should take place. Our boys aren’t safe on the streets or within the schools.

    My heart and prayers are with this family. I cannot imagine the anguish that they are dealing with.

  • Anthony

    I say this as a man who remembers close calls I had as a young man, even though I was not a person who had a risky lifestyle other than being black and male.

    I meant no disrespect to this deceased young man or his family.

  • Purple Rain

    This case is being poorly mismanaged. I think it’s time to get the FBI involved.

  • http://Theantifash.blogspot.com Robin

    I think about my brothers every time something like this happens… Just so sad.

  • texaschainsawlovin’

    There is a reason why sometimes I fight myself on becoming a hikikomori. But everyday when I read shit like this, it seems more appealing.

  • yolande

    This young man must be a magician, because he rolled himself up in the mat all by himself. Time for another autopsy and someone new on this investigation because this guy is not on the up and up. Sue the school and get that tape and find out who went with him into that gym. Probably some county officials child and they had to have those 6hours to tamper with evidence.

  • logan johnson! rip baby

    i love you KJ i miss you every day i cry for you everyday .. babe we will get justice!!! #kjmovement no peace until we find justice!

  • Bjorn

    The VIKINGS sign is fitting. He feasts in Valhalla now.

  • MaggieMay

    Years ago, a highschool classmate’s dad fell into the hole near his house where the water shutoff is. He accidentally suffocated because he couldn’t get back out…and his face swelled and split in a very similar way. He was also gone for less than a day when discovered. The backup of blood caused by being upside down for so long seems to cause the physiological changes we see in the above video/photo and, unfortunately, in my dear friend’s father.

  • Lenny Lessor

    Have to agree with previous post. The face they show on the posters is not one of homicide, but one of intense pressure. Stop. Think about this… you have something to retrieve down a very small and deep well. Do you go in? Someone as athletic as Kendrick could slide inside and grab it, right? Let me say that I have pushed myself halfway into a rolled up mat before. “HALF” way. I dare most anyone to try this. It is terrifying. Unfortunately, there was no one there to help. Not preaching, just saying, there was a time or two I thought I could crawl through that big mat. Check it out and then see how you feel. Peace.

  • Dre’Vian

    The mat was rolled up already and standing vertically, for storage. Very standard. And at my school, kids are always messing around with them, throwing shoes and backpacks on the top of them. Tragic, but an accident.

  • Dre’Vian

    Did not roll hisself up. Mat was rolled up and standing

  • Pingback: Young Kendrick Johnson. Murder or Accident? | The ObamaCrat.Com™

  • http://passiontopurposepc.blogspot.com sasha

    This could all be solved if the school would simply release the footage of him entering the gym by himself…. its seems strange that they wont do so. This is a sad story i pray for a justice and that the family find out what happened to their son.

  • pat king

    Who fnd Kendrick? Who made 911 call? Why the hell would he sit atop the rolled up mat??? Had to b a damn freaky accident to squeeze into the mat retrieve the alleged article!!!!! Who was the last person to see Kendrick?? Lots of suspiciosness on part of school & police!!!!!

  • AnotherSadMom

    I keep hearing that he was retrieving a shoe. Has anyone noticed both of shoes neatly positioned in the mat by his leg?! withholding the video clearly proves that there is a cover up. Not calling the police right away tells me that someone who attends or work at that school is involved. What happened to testing the mat for fingerprints? Why was the crime scene contaminated? I think maybe someone relate to the cops or a county offcial is involved. I hope the FBI, Nancy Grace, and Obama get involved. It may take some time but someone will tell what they know one day. I say polygraph the person who found the body and subpoena the school for the tape. If the tape shows evidence of tampering, lock up that person. This is a sad case. Yes, its sad, but race is an issue!!

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