Kendrick Johnson was found inside a rolled up wrestling mat in the gymnasium of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia on January 11, 2013. The initial investigation and autopsy concluded that his death was caused by asphyxia. Upon his family’s decision to inquire further and have a private autopsy conducted, Kendrick’s death was confirmed to be what they prayed wasn’t the case, but suspected all along; the four-page coroner’s report deemed his cause of death as “unexplained, apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma”.
At first, the detectives on the case claimed that Kendrick’s death was a result of searching for a shoe in a rolled up gym mat, being that three of the students at Lowndes don’t have lockers and keep their belongings in the gym from time to time. Following young Kendrick’s attempt at climbing into the mat leaned against the gymnasium wall, he became stuck upside down and over time, suffocated.
In court, some claimed both shoes were stored in the rolled mat by Kendrick himself, while the sheriff claims he was attempting to “retrieve a shoe that fell into the center of the large, rolled mat”.
Upon succeeding in having their son’s body exhumed for a private autopsy, Kendrick’s parents were informed of an additional shocking discovery that has been conveniently left out of most publications I’ve seen regarding this case. Kendrick’s body was missing each and every organ, from his pelvis to his head. The brain, heart, lungs, digestive tract; everything was missing. What the coroner found in place was balled up newspaper. This boy was stuffed with it after being emptied of organs that very well could strengthen the case that the cause of death was indeed blunt-force trauma. Judging solely from the abrasions to Kendrick’s neck, that’s all they’ve had to work with.
The purported murderers of Kendrick Johnson are Branden and Brian Bell, sons of FBI agent Rick Bell. Claimed by many as an “avid fighter” and overall aggressive person, Brian Bell is told to have started a fight with Kendrick on a school bus in 2011, and many students purport that Brian never let the grudge go.
The family filed a $100 million wrongful death suit that names 39 defendants. The suit includes Brian Bell, his brother Branden, their father, and law enforcement/state officials who the family believes are working to cover up a crime.
Valdosta, 51% black with a police force where white officers are the majority, is no stranger to racially based sketchy police practices. According to Rev. Floyd Rose of Valdosta, “a white man has never been tried and convicted of killing anyone black in Lowndes County.” Seems like this may be the case for Kendrick Johnson as well.
With the police choosing not to notify the coroner for 6 hours after discovering the body, it’s apparent they either didn’t give a fuck about the dead black boy rolled up in the gym mat or were spending their time sweeping some things under the rug.
Still fighting to reopen the case, Kendrick Johnson’s parents are desperate to find out what truly happened to their son and why so many typical police practices were thrown to the wayside in regards to his death. Hopefully the truth comes to light, because regardless of what side you choose to stand on, nothing adds up in this case. Our prayers are with the family.