Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

June 15, 2013

Kendrick Johnson’s body exhumed

VALDOSTA — The family of a deceased Lowndes High School student had his body exhumed Friday morning from Sunset Hills Cemetery as relatives continue the process of acquiring a second autopsy.

“The City of Valdosta received a court order from a superior court judge here in Lowndes, which authorized the Johnson family to exhume the body,” said Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress of the 6 a.m. Friday exhumation of Kendrick Johnson’s remains.

Police department officials accompanied the Johnsons to the plot to preserve the chain of custody.

“Anytime a body is moved, the tomb has to be removed and it isn’t allowed to be opened at the site,” said Childress. “We complied with the court order and (the Johnsons) have 30 days to return the body to the cemetery to be re-buried. Everything went smoothly.”

In January, Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead in Lowndes High School’s old gym.

Investigation lead detectives and medical experts concluded that the sophomore had perished due to positional asphyxia as he attempted to retrieve shoes from a stack of wrestling mats that had been rolled and stood upright. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded the death was accidental.

The Johnson family disagrees with these findings and has expressed a belief that foul play was involved in Kendrick Johnson’s death.

It is Childress’ understanding that the family intends to ship the body to a lab in Florida, where a state-certified medical examiner would perform the private autopsy.

“I’m really proud of how the cemetery staff handled the exhumation,” said Childress. “This is the first time I’ve seen this in my law-enforcement career. The crew showed a lot of compassion and they handled it in a dignified manner.”

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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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