Kendrick Johnson’s death remains a mystery. However, a federal grand jury is currently investigating the bizarre incident. The Georgia teen’s former classmates were added to the list of witnesses following interviews with the FBI.
In January, 2013, the 17-year-old was found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in the Lowndes High School gymnasium. Following an investigation, authorities determined the teen’s death was accidental. The medical examiner confirmed their findings, listing the cause of death as asphyxiation.
Authorities believe the teen’s shoes accidentally fell inside the rolled-up mat. They concluded that he fell into the mat and became trapped as he attempted to retrieve his shoes.
Kendrick Johnson’s family disagrees with the scenario. The believe the teen met with foul play and his death was a homicide.
In an attempt to prove their theory, the family hired a private investigator to review the case. Global Grind lists several inconsistencies, which led to the family’s concerns.
The teen’s shoulders measured 19 inches across. The opening inside the rolled-up wrestling mat was approximately 14 inches. With those dimensions, it would have been difficult for Johnson to simply fall into the mat.
When the teen was found, his body was completely enclosed inside the mat. Assuming the authorities scenario is correct, one would expect “the rest of his body would be sticking up” out the top of the mat. To his family, it appeared that he was rolled up inside the wrestling mat following his death.
Investigators also noted the presence of blood spatter on a wall near the scene. However, DNA tests were inconclusive. A shoe and sweatshirt, which were found outside the mat, were spattered with a “red substance.” However, authorities failed to collect and mark the items as evidence. Kendrick Johnson’s family said the shoe and sweatshirt did not belong to their son.
Further investigation also revealed that the teen received a death threat on his Facebook page. The message reportedly stated that the teen would “end up in a body bag.”
As part of the investigation, Kendrick Johnson’s body was exhumed for further examination. An independent autopsy, conducted by Dr. William R. Anderson, discredited the initial cause of death. Anderson concluded that the teen’s death was caused by blunt force trauma.
As reported by CNN, the family’s questions prompted the FBI to conduct an investigation into the incident. After interviewing Johnson’s former classmates, the FBI subpoenaed the students to appear before the federal grand jury.
The federal investigation has lasted more than four months. However, U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said investigators want to be thorough:
“We’re working methodically… we’re running a marathon instead of a sprint… It’s better to get it right than to get it fast… the FBI is moving forward at the appropriate speed, and they’re doing a fine job.”
As the federal grand jury continues to review Kendrick Johnson’s unusual death, his parents are cautiously optimistic that they will finally get the answers they need to find closure.
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