Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

May 4, 2013

Autopsy reveals accident’s details

VALDOSTA — Fears of a campus killer gripped Lowndes High School upon initial reports in January of a deceased student who appeared to have been rolled into a gym mat, but Thursday’s release of Kendrick Johnson’s official autopsy paint a picture of a healthy high schooler who passed away as a result of a tragic accident.

The story borders on the outlandish to many — the theory that Johnson died trying to retrieve a shoe from a stack of wrestling mats in the high school’s old gym on Jan. 10, 2013. But the investigation into Johnson’s death revealed that students often used the spaces between gym mats as free lockers, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s full report on Johnson’s death details how the teenager died and how dangerous the mats can be.

Positional asphyxia was the official determination of Johnson’s death in the GBI’s report which ruled out blunt force injury and disease. The autopsy reportedly began at 9:40 a.m. on Jan. 14, 2013.

Stroke and seizure were ruled out as blood vessels around Johnson’s neck, heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain were reportedly free of clogs and no lesions were present on the organs.

His skull was free of fractures, according to the report, which rules out Johnson suffering any serious blows to his head around the time of his death.

“A postmortem head X-ray is performed at autopsy and is negative for bony abnormalities [fracture] and [detectable] weaponry,” stated the report.

Johnson’s organs displayed no significant scarring, but they also contained no blood.

“All body organs are present and in their normal anatomical positions,” states the report. “Variable congestive-decomposition changes are present and increase in degree inferior to superior. Intravascular blood is not present.”

A motion-controlled camera recorded Johnson crossing paths with another student and heading in the opposite direction towards the gym mats, which authorities stated had been rolled up and stacked vertically over the Christmas holidays.

A class reportedly filled the empty gym shortly after Johnson went to retrieve his shoes. The time elapsed left just enough time for the teen to lose his life as he attempted to change out of his good shoes between classes.

After taking into account hundreds of interviews and forensic testing, the medical examiner for the state of Georgia concluded the following in Kendrick Johnson’s autopsy:

“The finding at autopsy is a well-developed and well-nourished black teenage male with congestive-decomposition changes of the head, neck, torso, and upper extremities. No significant natural disease process or injuries are identified,” the report states.

“Analysis of postmortem liver for drug screen testing is negative for cocaine, cocaine metabolites and common opioids. Analysis of postmortem liver for drug confirmation testing is negative for a comprehensive drug screen.”

The report concludes, “given the complete autopsy, including toxicology and histology, the scene photographs, the scene forensic testing, the law enforcement investigative finding including crime scene investigator reports and witness statements, and the coroner’s finding; it is my opinion the cause of death in this case is positional asphyxia and the manner of death is accident.”

1
Text Only
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

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results