$10,000 Reward Returned In Kendrick Johnson Investigation

By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett,Winnie Wright Email
By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett,Winnie Wright Email
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Updated By: Winnie Wright
January 22, 2014

A $10,000 check offered to anyone with credible information in the death of Kendrick Johnson will be returned today.

Valdosta resident, Roy Taylor, wrote the check and told Reverend Floyd Rose if anyone came forth with information, they could have it.

The only catch?

A 90-day expiration date.

Three months have passed and no one has come forward, leaving the check uncashed and the Johnson family no closer to what they believe to be the truth.

"He has always put his money where his mouth was," said Rev. Floyd Rose, Senior Servant Serenity Church. "I didn't ask him to do this, he called me. I was glad to see him do it and he loved that family, and he just didn't want that family to suffer anymore."

Rose says if Kendrick Johnson was in fact murdered, he believes someone would have come forth with evidence in order to claim the reward.


By: Lanetra Bennett
October 21, 2013

Valdosta, GA - "The family's hurting." Rev. Floyd Rose says that's why he is offering a $10,000 reward.

Rose is the pastor of Serenity Christian Church and president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He says he hopes someone will bring first-hand information to light in the death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson.

Johnson was found dead inside of a rolled up wrestling mat in the Lowndes High School gym in January.

Rev. Rose says, "The Johnsons have suffered pain, anguish, heartache far more than any of the rest of us will know."

An initial autopsy ruled Johnson's death an accident, but a second autopsy commissioned by the family found the teen died of blunt force trauma.

Valdosta resident Craig Robinson says he hopes the reward will motivate someone to come forward with answers. He says, "I know the family so often seems like they're alone, but, they're not alone. There's much prayer going up for them due to them losing their son."

Rev. Rose says the $10,000 reward came from a donor who wishes to be anonymous to the public.

He says, "People turn in people that are close to them for money. Some people turn in their own mothers for money."

Rev. Rose is asking anyone with information to call 229-444-1938. He says if no one is eligible for the reward within 90 days, the money will be returned to the donor.

He says information given in the case will be passed on to the Johnson Family's attorneys and to Michael Moore, who is the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia


Associated Press Release

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) -- The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the death of Lowndes High School student Kendrick Johnson.

The Rev. Floyd Rose says an anonymous donor put up the reward money.

Johnson's body was found inside a wrestling map at Lowndes High in January.


By: Garin Flowers
October 18, 2013

Valdosta, GA - A new surveillance video shows Kendrick Johnson wasn't alone in the gym.

An attorney for Lowndes High School says additional surveillance video shows other students in the gym around the time Kendrick Johnson walked in.

That video has not been released because officials don't have consent for the additional minors seen in the video.

Attorneys for the family of Kendrick Johnson plan to have a hearing with a Lowndes County judge on October 30.

They will seek a court order for that surveillance video inside of the gym and other areas that may add more evidence to the case.

Attorneys Chevene King and Ben Crump represent the family.

They're hoping the U.S. Department of Justice opens a formal investigation into the case. We spoke with the attorneys and the Johnson family on Friday.

"There were four cameras inside that gym, one of which was aimed in the direction of the corner where Kendrick's body was found," King said.

"If you have a video surveillance that shows what happened to Kendrick Johnson, doesn't the family at least deserve to see the truth," Crump said.

"The only time we'll be able to feel comfortable in some sort, when Kendrick get justice," said Kenneth Johnson, father of Kendrick.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled Kendrick Johnson's death a result of positional asphyxiation.

The Johnson family conducted its own autopsy, which showed the teen died from blunt force trauma.

We will continue to bring you new information on this story as it becomes available.


New Georgia NAACP Leader on Kendrick Johnson:

Georgia NAACP president Francys Johnson says his organization has spoken with the teen’s parents and is closely monitoring the case. He says Johnson’s death warrants an examination by the Justice Department.

“What I’m worried about is a growing callousness and disregard for the life of African Americans, and so this case has been closed by the officials in Valdosta. The work of the NAACP will see that it is not closed.”
Johnson says the organization is not on a witch hunt but is searching for the truth regarding the teen’s death.
“It behooves those of goodwill and decency to continue to explore until the truth is found.”


By: Eames Yates
October 10, 2013, 5pm

Valdosta, GA - On the day they would have celebrated their son's 18th birthday, the parents of Kendrick Johnson called on officials to re-open the investigation into his death.

"They didn't give my son any justice. Kendrick was such a great child," said Kendrick's father Kenneth Johnson.

Ever since the body of the varsity athlete was found inside a rolled up gym mat last January, his parents have suspected murder, and a cover-up.

The official autopsy report said Kendrick accidentally suffocated. But the family exhumed his body in the spring, and their independent autopsy determined he was killed by blunt force trauma.

Now, the family claims Kendrick's organs including his heart, brain and lungs had been removed and that the funeral home stuffed his body with newspaper.

The Johnson's suspect the funeral home may have been told to get rid of the organs as possible evidence.

"There is indication by the funeral home director that they were destroyed. 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," said family attorney Cheven King.

For more than six months, Kendrick Johnson's family has been holding almost daily demonstrations at an intersection near the courthouse. Trayvon Martin's family attorney recently joined their push for justice.

"These parents sent their son to school with a book bag and he was returned to them in a body bag," said family attorney Ben Crump.

The family is now demanding the release of school surveillance footage they say could show how Kendrick Johnson's life was cut short.

Last month, the Justice Department said it would not open a civil rights investigation into Johnson's death. Federal prosecutors in Georgia are now reviewing evidence to see if a separate investigation is necessary.


By: Eames Yates
October 10, 2013, 11am

Kendrick Johnson's family's attorney, Chevene King says surveillance videotape can serve as eyewitness, and he wants people to petition the Lowndes Sheriff's Board of Education to release any and all surveillance footage.

Ben Crump is speaking now, and says KJ was murdered. He says this is a real life murder mystery.

4 surveillance cameras that could show KJ in the gym and some tape has been withheld, according to Chevene King.


By: A.J. Hilton
October 9, 2013

Lowndes County, GA - New details have emerged about Kendrick Johnson's death. He was found dead in a gym at Lowndes County High School in January.

Johnson's mother says she cried when an independent pathologist found evidence showing her son died of blunt force trauma - not accidental asphyxia.

Johnson's parents now say Kendrick's organs including his heart, brain, lungs, and intestine-- everything from his skull to his pelvis-- was gone.

The state says it gave the organs to funeral home. The funeral home won't comment. Now the Johnson's are asking if it was pressured to get rid of them as possible evidence. Mortuary experts are harshly criticizing the funeral home for stuffing the boy with newspaper.

Johnson's family plans to hold a news conference Thursday, where they will provide additional details on the case.

WCTV will bring you the latest from that news conference.


By: A.J. Hilton
October 8, 2013

Lowndes County, GA - Kendrick Johnson's body was found in an athletic mat January 11th. The Lowdnes County Sheriff's Office says the teen's death was an accident, but new images are questioning those findings.

Now the public is getting it's first look at a 15-minute video and nearly 700 photos taken by the sheriff's office detailing the horrific scene.

Johnson's body, jeans, and orange and white t-shirts were found wedged into a rolled up wrestling mat. Blood was also found on the floor. More streaks were found on a nearby wall that weren't Johnson's according to investigators. A former FBI agent turned private investigator says Johnson's death was not an accident.

Keep in mind-- Johnson's family commissioned a second autopsy which concluded Johnson died from non-accidental blunt force trauma.

Just last month, the justice department said it would not open a civil rights investigation into the matter. Federal prosecutors in Georgia are now reviewing evidence to figure out if a separate investigation is necessary.


By: Eames Yates
September 5, 2013

"We already knew. Deep down inside we knew how Kendrick was. We knew he was murdered" says Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick Johnson's mother.

It's that suspicion that led the Johnson's to exhume their son's body for a second autopsy by a pathologist in Orlando. The first autopsy done by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Kendrick died by accidental asphyxiation after he was found in a wrestling mat at the Lowndes High School Gym on January 11th.

Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick Johnson's father: "I was happy with the results, the results we received-- I was very happy because it contradicts everything the first autopsy said."

The second autopsy says Kendrick Johnson died as a result of
"unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma." but the Johnson's want more than an autopsy report that backs up their claims.

Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick Johnson's mother: "We want a thorough investigation to come in from the Justice Department."

Nothing is going to bring Kendrick back, but his parents find strength in each other.

Jacquelyn Johnson: "When he has his bad days one day, I'm there for him, and when I have my bad days, he's there for me."


Tallahassee, FL - WCTV spoke with the parents of Kendrick Johnson, about a second autopsy report, released September 3rd pertaining to the death of their son.

Kendrick Johnson was a Lowndes County High School student found dead rolled up in a gym mat at the school back in January.

The second autopsy report directly contradicts the autopsy completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

We'll have the interview with Johnson's parents tonight on WCTV Eyewitness News at 11.


By Eames Yates
September 3, 2013

Lowndes County, GA - The latest autopsy says that Kendrick Johnson died as a result of "unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma." Which is what the family says they thought all along.

This new autopsy report was commissioned by the family-- and it directly contradicts the autopsy completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Kendrick Johnson's body was found in a gym mat in the Lowndes High School Gym on January 11th. The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office said there were no signs of foul play. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy report said he died by accidental asphyxiation. But the family didn't buy that and hired their own pathologist for a new autopsy. The pathologist said he found blunt force trauma to Kendrick Johnson's neck that were consistent with inflicted injury.

Lydia Whitlock: "It gives a little bit of relief, but the day that we get justice for my nephew will be the ultimate relief and the ultimate exhale for the family. We certainly would like to have the Justice Department to intervene and to reopen the investigation. We think that there are certainly enough questions that have been raised."

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office had no comment about the results of the second autopsy.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said they stand by their report after reviewing the findings of the second autopsy.


CNN News Copy

According to CNN, a second independent autopsy shows Kendrick Johnson died of "apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma".

WCTV has a reporter working to bring you the latest on this story. Stay with us for the most recent updates as they are available.


By Greg Gullberg
June 14, 2013

Valdosta, GA - Before the sun came up, they started digging.

The body of 17 year old Kendrick Johnson, known as KJ, was exhumed early Friday morning at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Valdosta. Kendrick was found dead in school, in a rolled up gym mat in January.

The family got permission from a judge to exhume his body. Now it's being taken to a pathologist near Orlando hired by the family for a second autopsy.

"Whatever happened, somebody has to pay. You know, it's just hard to believe that something like that can happen at a place like that and nobody knows anything," said Eddie Tooley, Kendrick's grandfather.

There are two sides to this story but the only thing both agree on is Kendrick died in the gym. It was an accident, was the finding of the initial autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They say it was the result of suffocating by hanging in the mat upside down over night, after trying to grab a shoe.

That theory doesn't make sense to the family and they say it doesn't explain the bruising on Kendrick's chin. The county coroner also says it took the sheriffs office six hours to contact him, when he should have been called immediately.

"We hope that the autopsy results will, number one, confirm our belief that Kendrick did not die as the result of an accident. We also anticipate there may be evidence his death was a cover up," said Chevene King, attorney for the Johnson family.

There's no word yet when the results of the second autopsy might be available. The judge's order requires Kendrick's body to be returned in 30 days.


Valdosta, GA - It was an early start for the family of Kendrick Johnson, as they stood by to see the body of Kendrick Johnson exhumed. The exhumation took place about 6am Friday morning at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Valdosta.

The initial autopsy released from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said no foul play. The family is just not buying it... They've petitioned a judge, who granted the order to exhume the body.

Timeline:

January 11th: Kendrick Johnson found rolled up in an athletic mat at Lowndes County High School.

April: His family and friends began to protest in front of the Lowndes County Courthouse, 'Justice for KJ' begins, Twitter account set up: @WhatHappened2KJ: https://twitter.com/WhatHappened2KJ

May 2nd: The autopsy of Kendrick Johnson was released. It cited that his death was an accident by asphyxiation.


By: Greg Gullberg
June 13, 2013

Valdosta, GA -The body of a Lowndes High School student found dead at school will be exhumed early Friday morning. The family's attorney, Chevene King, says it will be at 6 am.

Kendrick Johnson was found rolled up in a gym mat in school in January. He's buried at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Valdosta.

WCTV will continue following this story and let you know of any new developments.


By Greg Gullberg
June 6, 2013

Valdosta, GA - A major development in the story of a Lowndes High School student found dead at school. The body of 17 year old Kendrick Johnson, better known as KJ, will be exhumed for a second autopsy.

Johnson's family has gained permission from a judge to have his body exhumed because they don't trust the original autopsy report. Johnson's body was found rolled up in a gym mat at Lowndes High School in January. The Sheriff's Office says Johnson suffocated in the mat trying to grab a shoe and the original autopsy report ruled it an accident.

Attorney for the family Chevene King says the story just doesn't add up.

"What we're saying is that it involved someone else and that's not at all suggested by the Sheriff's theory," King said.

King believes the second autopsy will confirm Johnson's death was a homicide. He says the body will be exhumed within the next two weeks. Johnson is buried at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Valdosta.

Eyewitness News obtained the order from the courthouse. It includes some conditions like the family is responsible for paying the costs of exhuming the body and that the body has to be returned to the grave within 30 days.

"The arrangements will be made to have the body transported to another pathologist who is an expert in the area of forensic pathology to take a look at Kendrick's remains and to determine what matters were missed by the first autopsy," King said.

The sheriff's office and coroner were unavailable for comment on the new developments. We'll keep you posted as this story continues to develop.


By Greg Gullberg
June 6, 2013

Valdosta, GA - The body of a Lowndes High School student found dead at school will have a second autopsy.

The family of 17 year old Kendrick Johnson, better known as KJ, submitted a petition to the Superior Court of Lowndes County to exhume the body and it was approved by the Superior Court Judge. Johnson’s body was found rolled up in a gym mat in the high school in January.

Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the order Thursday from the Lowndes County Clerk of Court and talked with the Attorney for the family, Chevene King. King tells us they will exhume the body with in the next 10 to 14 days, but no exact date has been set yet. Johnson’s body is buried at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Valdosta.

King says he and the family will hire a Pathologist to perform the autopsy. King says the reason for wanting a second autopsy is because they hope it will confirm Johnson’s death was a homicide.


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