Valdosta Daily Times

February 6, 2014

Johnsons file civil suit against funeral home

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — 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.

Kendrick’s lifeless body was found upside down inside a rolled-up athletic mat at Lowndes High School  Jan. 11, 2013. The Harrington Funeral Home received the body several days later after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy determined the 17-year-old died as a result of a freak accident.

In the suit, filed in the State Court of Lowndes County, Kenneth and Jacqueline Johnson said funeral director Antonio Harrington intentionally interfered with an investigation into their son's death. The Johnsons maintain Kendrick was the victim of wrongdoing and that local law-enforcement officials and others covered up the cause of his death.

The suit states that Harrington expressed doubts about Kendrick’s death being accidental after receiving the body. It also claims that the funeral director disposed of Kendrick’s internal organs, brain and clothes in an attempt to “interfere” with the investigation by the sheriff's office and the GBI.

The suit said Harrington did not inform the Johnsons of the “true condition” of Kendrick’s body before burial, causing the family emotional distress when a second autopsy, commissioned by the parents, revealed their son's internal organs had been replaced with old newspapers.

The Johnsons seek unspecified financial damages.

The Georgia Board of Funeral Service cleared Harrington in January of any wrongdoing in handling Kendrick’s body.

The Times was unable to reach Harrington for comment Wednesday, but he has

previously stated newspapers are commonly used by embalmers to replace internal organs removed by an autopsy if the body is prepared for showing before burial. He has stated he gave “199 percent” to help provide closure to the Johnson family and “never did anything wrong.”