Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 1, 2014

Top Ten Stories of 2013

VALDOSTA — Each year, Times employees select 10 news stories from the previous 12 months that had the greatest impact on the community and the largest response from readers.

Tragedy again dominates the list following the deaths of several young men and women in separate incidents. A large explosion and fire, the loss of an historically sentimental site, issues in local government decisions, SPLOST, and large construction projects round out the top 10 for the year.

1. The Death of Kendrick Johnson

One of the earliest stories of 2013 became not only the top story of the year but a story that dominated the year.

On Jan. 11, 17-year-old Lowndes High student Kendrick “KJ” Johnson’s body was discovered in a rolled-up wrestling mat inside the school’s old gym. He’d been missing since the previous day.

Law-enforcement officials and a state autopsy determined the teenager’s death to be accidental, caused by positional asphyxia, claiming he became trapped upside down in the mat while trying to retrieve a shoe.

The Johnson family did not accept the state’s findings. They believed someone killed KJ. By spring, the family began a vigil outside the Lowndes County Judicial Complex, which continued throughout the remainder of the year. They carried posters bearing the disfigured face of the dead teen and demanded Justice for KJ.

The family won the right to exhume Kendrick Johnson’s body for an independent autopsy. This second autopsy claimed to find blunt-force trauma to the neck and determined the death to be non-accidental.

Throughout the year, the case drew more attention from rallies in Valdosta to becoming a social-media phenomenon to national news coverage.

The family demanded a coroner’s inquest, which has not been granted, and a federal investigation, which is under ongoing review by U.S. Attorney Michael Moore’s office.

The KJ story now continues into 2014.

Text Only
Local News
  • Baytree Animal Hospital LB copy.JPG Animal hospital named Business of the Week

    Baytree Animal Hospital was named Leading Business of the Week by the  Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce for July 14.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gavel-courtroom.jpg Water treatment plant discussed

    The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners discussed purchasing two pieces of equipment for the Alapaha Water Treatment Plant and the Spring Creek System for a total of $1,638,000 during its Monday work session and is expected to vote on the issue tonight.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • education.jpg Charter school petition denied

    Both the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school boards unanimously denied the joint charter petition from Scintilla Charter Academy during their respective meetings Monday evening.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • echols_alapapa.jpg WWALS gets grant from river network

    The Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) received a $500 Alapaha Water Trail Grant from the Georgia River Network

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140718-ARJim2.jpg Teacher at home anywhere in the world

    Variety is the spice of life. South Georgia is home to a diverse group of people, each with a unique life story. One man with glorious tales of travel and selfless volunteer work is Jim Kokoruda.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • fire2a.jpg Blaze damages North Lowndes home

    Lowndes County Fire Rescue responded to a fire call Sunday at 3756 Cross Creek Circle near Bemiss Road.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 140719-KidsInc3 copy.jpg Kids get a taste of retail operations

    Valdosta Mall shoppers may have noticed a few additional shopping options Saturday as they walked through center court.
    Children ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old set up booths and sold products to consumers.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140719-UnseenProject7 copy.jpg CrossPointe welcomes ‘Unseen’ travelers home

    CrossPointe Church members gathered Saturday to greet their pastor and fellow congregationalists returning from a filmed two-month-long motorcycle trip across the nation and back.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Runoff set for Tuesday

    Advanced voting ended Friday for the runoff election from the May 20 primary.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Modern Woodmen RC copy.JPG Woodmen welcomed to Valdosta

    The The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and its Ambassadors welcomed the Valdosta chapter of Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 15.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results