The strange and horrifying case of Kendrick Johnson, the 17-year-old Valdosta, Ga., high school student who was found dead and rolled in a gym mat at his school in January, took another disturbing turn yesterday.
As Opposing Views reported, the results of a second autopsy on the youth indicate that his death was not accidental, as it was originally ruled by investigators. Now, a CNN report says the boy was buried with no internal organs — and that his body was stuffed with old newspapers and department store advertising circulars.
No one is exactly sure what happened to Johnson’s organs, or why someone thought it necessary to jam his body full of newspaper “like he was a garbage can,” as his mother put it. But the teen’s parents suspect that the missing organs may be part of an ongoing cover-up.
"There is indication by the funeral home director that they were destroyed," said Johnson family attorney Cheven King. "We have to accept that as being a statement, and perhaps a statement of fact, but the question is by whom, and for what reason."
Adding to their suspicions, newly released crime scene photos show what appears to be blood in areas of the gym where Johnson died.
The photo above shows the shoe for which Johnson was said to be reaching, inside the rolled-up mat, when he got stuck and suffocated, according to the original investigation. There appears to be blood around the shoe but none on it.
Investigators said the red substance was not taken as evidence because they did not believe it to be blood.
“If you’re running a crime scene, then you’re going to say that’s potential evidence,” Harold Copus, a former FBI agent, told CNN. “Obviously, we’re going to check this out and find out who does it belong to.”
In the second autopsy, independent pathologist Bill Anderson found that Johnson suffered “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma” that caused his death. But Anderson had no explanation for the missing organs. It is standard practice to remove organs during an autopsy, but they are supposed to be returned to the body.
“I’m not sure at this point who did not return the organs to the body,” Anderson said. “But I know when we got the body, the organs were not there.”
The Lowndes County Sheriff and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are sticking to their original finding that the boy’s death was a freak accident. But U.S. Attorney Michael Moore says he is considering a new investigation.
“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.
Sources: CNN, New York Daily News, WCTV