Valdosta Daily Times

October 19, 2013

Reward offered in ‘KJ’ case

Desiree Murphy
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A Valdosta pastor offered a $10,000 reward Friday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in the January death of 17-year-old Lowndes High student Kendrick Johnson.

In a news conference, the Rev. Floyd Rose, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and pastor of Serenity Church, said the $10,000 reward was donated by an anonymous source. The reward is being offered for any factual information regarding the Kendrick Johnson case, Rose said.

“The Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the SCLC wants to be clear; at this point, our organization has not taken a definitive position on this case. We do not know what happened,” Rose said reading from a prepared statement. “However, in an effort to try to bring closure to the Johnson family and calm the community, the Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the SCLC has received donated funds in the amount of $10,000 to assist with obtaining additional factual information pertaining to the Kendrick Johnson death.”

Information that is given will be passed along to C.B. King, the Johnson family’s lead attorney, and Michael Moore, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The information will be examined and determined if it is credible and if it is worthy of further action.

Information regarding the death can be called in to (229) 444-1938. This offer will stand for 90 days, Rose said, after this time, the money will be returned to its provider.

In January, Kendrick “KJ” Johnson, 17, was found dead in the old Lowndes High gymnasium on the school campus. Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office proclaimed no foul play in the case on the same day as the teen’s body was discovered.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Johnson was alone in the gym, reached for a loose shoe and became trapped in a rolled-up wrestling-type mat, and died from being upside down for an extended period of time.

The state’s autopsy confirmed these findings and concluded the death was accidental.

The Johnson family and many supporters never agreed with the findings and continued rallying outside of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex in the months since the autopsy was returned. They believe based on the condition of Johnson’s body, especially the bloated nature of his head and face following the initial autopsy, that he was murdered.

In June, the family won a court order for Johnson’s body to be exhumed from Sunset Hill Cemetery for the second autopsy. The second autopsy described the cause of Johnson’s death as “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma.”

Family and supporters have also requested the federal Justice Department investigate the case, but the DOJ said it has no plans to pursue the case. U.S. Attorney Middle District of Georgia Michael J. Moore is reviewing the case but is not formally investigating the death. In addition to the daily gatherings downtown, there have also been rallies with hundreds of people in attendance.

 

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