The Valdosta Daily Times
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.
The girl, interviewed by The Times at her home, said she heard the rumor from a close friend and that hearsay was and still is rampant at Lowndes High School where Johnson’s lifeless body was found Jan. 11, 2013.
“I heard it so many times from so many different people that it just sounded like it could be true,” said the girl. “But nothing in the email is true.”
The girl said the rumor weighed heavily on her conscience, causing her to send the anonymous email to the sheriff’s office two months ago. Investigators subsequently concluded that there was nothing to the confession claim.
Authorities later identified the girl through a subpoena to her Internet provider service, Mediacom. The Times has agreed to withhold her name for now because of her age.
The girl said she thought her email would be helpful in solving the uncertainty surrounding Johnson’s strange death in the high school’s old gym. She said she thought it might be true given the speculation in the media, especially Ebony.com and CNN, over the circumstances of the Johnson case.
“Now,” she added, “I know it was just hurting people that were completely innocent. There’s no way they could have anything to do with it. There’s nothing there that proves that they have anything to do with it.”
Johnson’s lifeless body was found in a rolled-up athletic mat. Local and state authorities ruled his death an accident. The 17-year-old’s parents maintain he was the victim of foul play, possibly murder. Federal authorities are reviewing the case.
The girl said she does not personally know the individuals she mentioned in her anonymous email, but that rumors persist about them at the high school, dividing the student body down the middle over those who believe Johnson died accidentally and those who do not.
She said she agreed to talk to The Times to set the record straight and to deflect speculation about her involvement in the Johnson case.