Valdosta Daily Times

January 22, 2014

No response to KJ reward

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — 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.

The Rev. Floyd Rose of Serenity Church held a press conference in which he announced that a $10,000 check would be returned to Roy E. Taylor, the Valdosta businessman who anonymously offered the award in October. Taylor asked Rose to coordinate the effort and stipulated that the reward would only be offered for a 90-day period which expired Sunday.

The intent of the reward, Rose said, was to encourage anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of those who might be responsible for Johnson's death. Johnson's body was found upside down inside of a rolled-up wrestling mat in the old gym at Lowndes High School in January 2013.

Rose said any information given to him as a result of the reward would have been shared with U.S. District Attorney Michael Moore and Johnson family attorney Chevene King, but he did not receive “a single piece of credible information.”

Johnson's parents have maintained their belief that their son was murdered, but official findings from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that the 17-year-old Johnson died from positional asphyxia after crawling down into a vertically stored wrestling mat and getting stuck while trying to retrieve a shoe.

Rose said Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick’s father, called him before the reward was announced and angrily objected. Rose also provided a letter he sent to King in October in which he expressed confusion to why Kenneth Johnson would object because the reward could “lead to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for his son’s death.”

“I can’t understand why Mr. Johnson was so angry and adamant in not wanting me to offer the reward,” said Rose.

Rose also stated in the letter that he did not tell reporters at the time that Kenneth Johnson did not want the reward because of conclusions that people might draw.

“The conclusion would have been, as you know, that the family wanted to drag this matter out so they can raise money,” stated Rose.

During the press conference, Rose reiterated his position that all evidence points to Kendrick Johnson's death as a tragic accident and that claims of a cover-up to protect a murderer are implausible.

“A lot of people believe that he was murdered because it’s South Georgia not because of the facts,” said Rose. “A cover-up has to be methodically planned. Who would have the motivation? Everyone would have to be in on the conspiracy. Who would risk everything they have for that?”