Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

November 23, 2013

Where was Kendrick?

Mystery surrounds KJ’s whereabouts in hours before his death

VALDOSTA — About this series

This is the third of four stories by the Valdosta Daily Times reviewing the official police file on the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson, 17, the Lowndes High School student whose body was discovered Jan. 11 in a rolled-up wrestling mat in the school’s old gymnasium.

Today’s report is about the confusion surrounding Kendrick’s whereabouts the day before his body was found, explains police handling of a report that a person was attacked and falsely accused of killing Kendrick, and tells about the dissatisfaction of Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson with how authorities handled the immediate investigation.

Sunday’s final installment will provide details of the findings of the family’s pathologist, accusations that the children of an FBI agent killed Kendrick, and what is likely to happen next in the case.

Jacquelyn Johnson expected her son to arrive home Jan. 10 after watching a freshmen basketball game at Lowndes High School that evening.

But 17-year-old Kendrick didn’t show up at the expected time and shortly after midnight, his mother filed a missing person’s report with police. A few hours later she was at the high school when she got the tragic news her son had been found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat in the old gymnasium.

A state autopsy determined the youth died accidentally of “positional asphyxia” from being trapped upside down in the mat for an extended period. Johnson’s family believes he was a victim of foul play.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern Georgia is currently investigating the case.

Confusion surrounding Kendrick’s death is linked to his body being found 21 hours – about 10:30 a.m. Jan. 11 – after he was last seen entering the old gym on Jan. 10 around 1:30 p.m., as recorded by the school’s surveillance cameras.

More than three months later, on April 25, investigators interviewed a member of the basketball team who practiced in the old gym on Jan. 10. He told them he did not see Johnson there and observed nothing out of the ordinary. The wrestling mats were lined up in an out-of-the-way corner of the gym.

The same student said he attended the freshmen basketball game but did not see Johnson at the game.

Investigators also looked into the Lowndes County Sheriff’s office conversation with a high school student who came forward on Jan. 11 to claim someone posted a statement on Facebook to the effect that, “When you start messing the goons bodies start showing up” after Johnson’s body was found.

Investigators could not confirm the statement because the Facebook account had been deactivated, but the student said it might have been tied to a feud between a member of a group called “CVC” – for Clyattville Click – that Johnson belonged to and the Facebook poster over a girlfriend.

That afternoon, at 1:25 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a call from the Valdosta Police Department that the Facebook poster had reported he had been “jumped” by a group of people. The sheriff’s office and Valdosta police interviewed him about the matter.

The poster stated he was standing on the west side of the road in the 1300 block of North Troup Street with a friend when Johnson’s sister “pulled up in a blue vehicle with several other subjects.” He said the sister looked at the friend and said, “what the f--- are you laughing about?”

The poster said he was soon surrounded by the group when he heard the sister say, “you killed my brother,” followed by a man, who was crying, striking him in the face. He told investigators “the next thing he knew he was on the ground being hit by several black males.”

He also said he was struck in the head with a silver pistol before escaping into a nearby apartment, but Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress told The Times his injuries were not consistent with that account.

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Kendrick Johnson
  • KJ’s parents claim racial bullying in lawsuit

    The parents of Kendrick Johnson have sued the Lowndes County School System, claiming officials neglected to protect their son from racial harassment and bullying that they said led to his death.

    May 15, 2014

  • Anonymous email in KJ case based on rumor, says author

    The teenage girl who authored an anonymous email claiming someone had confessed to murdering Kendrick Johnson says it was strictly a rumor that she felt conscience-bound to share with the sheriff’s office.

    March 27, 2014

  • keyboard.jpg Authorities: Confession in KJ case not credible

    An anonymous email claiming a former classmate of Kendrick Johnson had confessed to killing him was investigated and determined not to be credible, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • social.jpg Mom says sons harassed, threatened in KJ case

    Karen Bell has had it with the rumor-mongering about her family’s connection to the death of Kendrick Johnson on social networking sites like YouTube,  Twitter and Facebook.

    February 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnsons file civil suit against funeral home

    Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit against the Harrington Funeral Home, claiming it negligently handled their son’s remains and deliberately withheld information about the condition of his body.

    February 6, 2014

  • 140121-Floyd_Rose001.jpg No response to KJ reward

    A local civil rights leader returned reward money to its donor Tuesday after it failed to yield any significant information pertaining to the death of Kendrick Johnson.

    January 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • State capitol rally today for new KJ probe

    A three-hour rally for a new investigation into the disputed death of Lowndes High student Kendrick Johnson 11 months ago is planned today on the front steps of the Georgia Capitol building.

    December 11, 2013

  • Kendrick_Johnson.jpg Where was Kendrick?

    About this series
    This is the third of four stories by the Valdosta Daily Times reviewing the official police file on the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson. Today’s report is about the confusion surrounding Kendrick’s whereabouts the day before his body was found, explains police handling of a report that a person was attacked and falsely accused of killing Kendrick, and tells about the dissatisfaction of Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson with how authorities handled the immediate investigation.

    November 23, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Finding Kendrick

    The Times continues its in-depth look at the investigative case file into the January death of Kendrick Johnson at Lowndes High School.

    November 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Kendrick’s Final Walk

    A review of Lowndes High School video footage shows more than the moments Kendrick Johnson entered the old gymnasium where his body was discovered Jan. 11 in a rolled wrestling mat.

    November 21, 2013 1 Photo

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