I’ve been waiting for someone affiliated with law enforcement to say Kendrick Johnson’s death was suspicious.
It’s about time.
Johnson, 17, was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat on January 11 at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. His face was bloated with filled with blood.
State medical examiners said Johnson suffocated but offered no explanation for how Johnson ended up smothered and bloody in a wrestling mat.
There were no details, no witnesses, no clues. Police say the case is closed. It’s been ruled an accidental death.
But now, a 15-minute video and nearly 700 photos taken by sheriff’s investigators in Lowndes County that were obtained by CNN, may tell a different story of how Johnson died.
“I don’t believe this was an accident. I think this young man met with foul play,” Harold Copus, a former FBI agent now an Atlanta private investigator, told CNN.
It’s unconscionable that after nine months police closed the case during a questionable investigation. At best, it’s sloppy investigative work. At worse, could it be a cover-up?
CNN reported that a pair of orange-and-black gym shoes found a few yards from Johnson’s body had a substance that looked like blood on them, but investigators told CNN the stains weren’t blood — and so the shoes were not collected as potential evidence.
So who owned the gym shoes? The shoes could be a critical clue in the investigation.
Copus said he can’t explain how investigators handled items found around the gym.
“If you’re running a crime scene, then you’re going to say ‘That’s potential evidence. Obviously, we’re going to check this out and find out who does it belong to,’ ” he told CNN.
Adding to the family’s agony is another devastating development: Kendrick’s organs were removed during an autopsy, but his body and skull were stuffed with newspaper before burial.