17-year-old Kendrick Johnson’s death remains a mystery. The Valdosta, Ga., sheriff’s department has closed the case, but new evidence shows the death was not an accident.
In an initial autopsy, state medical examiners concluded that Johnson suffocated in January after becoming stuck in a rolled-up gym mat while reaching for a shoe.
Johnson’s family challenged the findings, and a second autopsy was conducted. An independent pathologist found that Johnson suffered a blow to the right side of his neck.
“I don’t believe this was an accident. I think this young man met with foul play,” said Harold Copus, now an Atlanta private investigator. A 15-minute video and nearly 700 photos taken by sheriff’s investigators in Lowndes County documented the horrific scene. Johnson’s body, clad in jeans and and layered orange and white T-shirts, was found wedged into a rolled-up wrestling mat in January. His face was bloated with pooled blood, some of which had poured out of his body, soaking his dreadlocks and spilling onto the floor. There were more streaks of blood on a nearby wall — but it wasn’t Johnson’s, according to investigators.
Officials also found a pair of gym shoes a few yards from the body with a substance on them. Investigators said it wasn’t blood so they did not collect them as evidence. The same went for a sweatshirt found a few feet from the teen.
CNN reached out the Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine, but he refused to discuss the case saying that it is “closed.”
Johnson’s father Kenneth Johnson says foul play is evident. He believes someone murdered his son.
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