Horrific Crime or Freak Accident? Kendrick Johnson’s Autopsy Tells A Different Story

| October 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

Kendrick Johnson Second Autopsy Photo

By: Adriene Morton

Jacquelyn and Kenneth Johnson underwent severe anguish over the loss of their 17-year-old son, Kendrick Johnson, who was found dead in January at Lowndes High School, rolled up in a gym mat. The emotionally exhausted couple try and remain optimistic as they initially were told their son’s death was accidental, but soon the two drown in despair when state officials reveal that their son’s body was stuffed with newspaper before burial.

Lowndes County Sheriffs allegedly found Kendrick trapped in a wrestling mat, which appeared to have been for an extended period of time, with a tennis shoe nearby. Sheriffs presumed Johnson’s death to be an accident as they claim the 17-year-old climbed atop the vertically aligned gym mats, fell into the center opening, and suffocated while trying to reach his tennis shoe.

His parents highly doubted that their son’s death was accidental, and won a court order to have his body exhumed and a second autopsy performed in June. While conducting the autopsy, private pathologist, Dr. Bill Anderson, noticed that Kendrick’s brain, heart, liver, and all other internal organs were absent from the body. Leaving a great deal of suspicion, these findings were then traced back to the two entities that handled Kendrick’s body, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the first autopsy in January and the Harrington Funeral Home in Valdosta, which embalmed and buried the teen.

Sherry Lang, GBI spokeswoman, confirmed to CNN that following the autopsy, they performed their normal practice, “the organs were placed in Johnson’s body, the body was closed, then the body was released to the funeral home.”

Although CNN received word from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Harrington Funeral Home did not respond to CNN concerning the puzzling second autopsy, but instead sent a letter to the Johnson’s attorney. Funeral home owner, Antonio Harrington confirmed they never received the teen’s organs and concluded the organs “were destroyed through natural process” due to his upright position triggering severe hemorrhaging and heart failure. The body was “discarded by the prosector before it was sent back to Valdosta”, he added.

The findings of newspapers stuffed in the teen’s body aimed deep concern at the Harrington Funeral Home as Vernie Fountain, the founder of a Missouri embalming school, called it “not consistent with the standards of care.” This called for further investigation on Kendrick’s body to discover the truth behind how his body was treated before burial. Dr. Bill Anderson concluded contrary to the first autopsy, ruling Kendrick’s death an “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma.”

Lowndes County Sheriff, Chris Pine refused to converse the matter with CNN, and to make matters worse, the U.S. Department announced in September that they will not be opening a civil rights investigation into the case.

“It’s unbearable, just about,” Jacquelyn Johnson said. “The only thing that wakes you up in the morning is to just keep pushing.” Even with dark clouds and many grey skies, Michael Moore, U.S. attorney whose district includes Valdosta, predicted a much brighter forecast for the Johnson family.

“This is about getting to the facts and the truth, and we want the Johnson family and the community of Valdosta to have confidence in the process,” Moore said. “I am cognizant of time, and we continue to move the process along.”

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