In a new development in the Kendrick Johnson gym mat death case, investigators received an anonymous email with a claim that the sender heard secondhand a confession to Johnson’s murder.
The Lowndes County, Georgia district attorney’s office has subpoenaed a communications company to request internet records since the report of a confession came to light, CNN reports.
CNN obtained the email and subpoena. The tip is dated January 27. The sender claims that he or she was told about a confession by someone who knew about it, and implicates the person who made the confession.
Investigators interviewed two of the four people named in the email. The students said they knew Johnson but denied any role in his death.
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WALB, which also obtained a copy of the email from Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, reports that the sender claimed a friend at a party the previous weekend told someone else that Johnson had been murdered.
Sheriff’s Lieutenant Stryde Jones says the email is a hoax.
"Yesterday, we were able to identify the source of the e-mail and actually went and interviewed that person, who is a juvenile," said Lowndes County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Stryde Jones. "In speaking with the sender of the e-mail, what we found was that this was information she didn't know factually, she had heard rumors. But, she felt that it was important that the information be submitted.
Johnson’s body was found rolled up in a gym mat in his high school gym in January of last year. The coroner found that he had been asphyxiated and investigators ruled his death accidental, deciding that the teenager had reached for a sneaker in the center of the mat and gotten stuck.
Since then, Johnson has not rested in peace. Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, the deceased’s parents, suspected that investigators were "covering up a murder” and had Johnson’s body exhumed for further investigation. A pathologist they hired found that Johnson’s death was no accident: he had died from “unexplained apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma.”
The Department of Justice is investigating the teen’s death. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore launched the federal probe October 31.