The Truth About Kendrick Johnson’s Death: Was It Really an Accident? 

In the year 2013, precisely on January 10, the body of a Lowndes High School student named Kendrick Johnson was found vertically rolled-up in a mat in the gymnasium of the school. When local authorities took up the case, they soon dismissed it after an autopsy and preliminary investigation suggested that the boy’s death was caused by an accident. However, the late Kendrick’s family members strongly objected to this and instead hired a private pathologist to look into their son’s death. From this, new evidence emerged annulling the earlier assumption that Kendrick’s death was an accident. New formal reviews into the lad’s death were opened once again with his family accusing 38 persons of murdering Johnson. His body had to be exhumed several times for autopsies and several other things came into question. Such is the nature of controversies that have trailed Kendrick Johnson’s death.

Kendrick is no more but a question begging for a definitive answer is whether his death was really caused by an accident or if it was a well covered up premeditated murder. Find out all we know about Kendrick Johnson’s death below including all the facts and assumptions made.

Kendrick Johnson Before His Death

Until his death, Kendrick was a student of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, in the U.S. state of Georgia where he also lived with his family. He was born to Kenneth and Jackie Johnson on the 10th of October 1995 and at the time of his death on January 10, 2013, Kendrick Johnson was aged 18. His family and friends described him as a good person. He was equally good in sports as a three-sport athlete who hoped to one day become a professional football player.

Prior to his death, Kendrick’s mother filed a missing person complaint with the police when her son failed to come back from a basketball game he went to after school on 10 January 2013. She called his phone severally but he wasn’t picking, she also did a driveby around his school but there was no sign of her son there and it was already past midnight. The following morning, Jackie Johnson was at the school’s counselor’s office to demand an explanation about the whereabouts of her son but instead, was greeted with a piece of sad news.

Kendrick’s corpse was found upside-down on January 11, 2013, by his fellow students. The story had it that after the students had returned from break and went to the gym, they noticed something sticking out at the top of one of the rolled-up mats which seemed odd. They climbed up the mats which stood about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide and noticed what seemed to be like someone’s foot. They called out to the person but got no response. It was at this point that they rushed out to call any school staff around as the mat was too big for them to bring down. When the mat was brought down, what seemed like an unconscious human was seen wrapped inside the rolled-up mat with a stench beginning to emanate from it. The police were alerted and when they arrived, the identity of the dead victim was revealed to be Kendrick Johnson.

Was Kendrick Johnson’s Death Accidental or Not?

An autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) reported that his death was accidentally caused by positional asphyxia or postural asphyxia. A form of asphyxia resulting in unconsciousness or even death when the position of the body prevents the individual from breathing properly.

The explanation offered for Kendrick Johnson’s death caused by asphyxia had it that he probably fell inside the rolled-up mats while looking for a shoe and was unable to come out. The practice in the school was that some students keep their gym shoes under or behind the rolled-up mats after each gym session when they don’t want to pay for a locker. To lay credence to this, the late Kendrick wasn’t wearing his shoes when his body was found.

Suspicion of Murder 

With Johnson’s family members unsatisfied with the report about his death being accidental, they hired Dr. William R. Anderson to conduct an independent autopsy on Kendrick. His report claimed that Kendrick had traces of blunt force trauma to the right neck and soft tissues which suggested that his death wasn’t accidental. With this new revelation, a formal review into the death of Kendrick Johnson was reopened.

Kendrick Johnson's death
Kendrick Johnson’s corpse in the rolled-up gym mat

The Missing CCTV Footages

As investigations went on, it was found that the CCTV footage of two cameras at Lowndes High School was missing 2 hours and 5 minutes of video recording and another 2 hours and 10 minutes. The explanation offered for this was that the different camera systems were not synchronized with one another. There were also no cameras positioned at the place the gym mats were rolled up. Similarly, some of the cameras were motion activated with light pixels. Thus when no motion is detected, they automatically turn off. As a result of all these, there is no clear evidence to show how Kendrick ended up rolled up in the mats.

Legal Suites

Kendrick Johnson’s family accused 38 persons of murdering their son and filed a $100 million civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of DeKalb County. The accused were about 3 of Kendrick’s unnamed classmates, local, state, and federal officials.

As the hearing approached, all local superior Court Judges in Lowndes County rescued themselves from the case, thus the case was later sent to the Northern District of Ohio at the time of U.S attorney Steven Dettlebach. However, Steven resigned after receiving the case but the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued the investigation into the case.

Withdrawal of the Legal Suite

Johnson’s parents later in 2015 withdrew their lawsuit against those they accused stating that they would refile the case after the DOJ’s investigation is concluded. Following this, they were sued about $1,000,000 in defamation damages and over $850,000 in attorney fees. On August 10, 2017, a judge ruled that the Johnson’s must pay $292,000 as legal fees to those they accused of murdering their son.

As of this writing, it is yet to be determined whether or not Kendrick Johnson’s death was truly accidental or a well thought out murder.


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