New details in the death of Kendrick Johnson, the 17-year-old who was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat, have revealed the teen’s death wasn’t accidental like previously reported.
Obtained by the Valdosta Daily Times and WALB Thursday (Nov. 15), a third autopsy was done to the teen’s body in June, revealing blunt force trauma to the right neck and right thorax as the official cause of death. Forensic Dimensions of Orlando was hired by attorneys working for Jackie and Kenneth Johnson, the teen’s parents. The autopsy rejects the results of an accidental death by asphyxiation, which was conducted in 2013. The parents ordered a second autopsy of their son’s body later that year after his organs went missing.
The body of the teenager was found in a wrestling mat in the gymnasium of Lowndes High School in January 2013. State medical examiners determined the athlete suffocated after getting stuck in the mat while reaching for his sneaker. His mysterious death gained national attention over the many mishandlings in the case.
After the first autopsy, the teen’s body was stuffed with newspaper instead of his organs. Surveillance footage also showed the teen being followed by brothers Brian and Branden Bell, who Kendrick’s parents believed killed their son. The parents also accused local officials and the FBI of covering it up.
A federal review of the case ruled in 2016 that the teen’s death was accidental with the Department of Justice stating it didn’t find “sufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges.”
“After an extensive investigation into this tragic event, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone or a group of people willfully violated Kendrick Johnson’s civil rights or committed any other prosecutable federal crime,” the closed case reads.
The Johnsons later dropped a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the state and the Bell family and were forced to pay over $200,000 to the Bell family to cover their legal fees. Surveillance footage and witness accounts supported testimonies of their whereabouts the day Kendrick died. Branden Bell was heading to a wrestling tournament four hours away in Macon and Brian was in class on the other side of campus.
Read the latest autopsy below.
READ MORE: DOJ Declares No Charges Will Be Filed In The Death Of Kendrick Johnson