Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office did a lousy job of investigating Kendrick Johnson’s death

January 11, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good morning:

Kendrick Johnson’s body was discovered in a rolled-up mat in the Old Gym at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia one year ago today. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office concluded that he died accidentally in an upside down position stuck inside a rolled-up gym mat while attempting to retrieve an athletic shoe. I do not agree with their conclusion.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office failed to conduct a competent professional investigation. They should have identified, contacted and separately interviewed all potential witnesses within 24 hours after Kendrick’s body was discovered. This is a basic requirement that every homicide investigator knows because witnesses absolutely must be interviewed while their memories are fresh before they become polluted by information obtained from the media or conversations with others.

There are no exceptions to this rule unless a witness cannot be located.

The first responders and the paramedic who noticed bruising on Kendrick’s jaw and considered the gym to be a crime scene should have been interviewed as soon as possible, but they were not interviewed until April 17 and 18, more than 3 months after Kendrick’s body was discovered. The janitors who cleaned the gym after the police finished their investigation at the scene were not contacted and interviewed until April 26th.

Victor Blackwell of CNN reports,

CNN examined the 522-page police file and found that investigators spoke to 111 people. Eighteen of those interviews occurred the day Johnson’s body was found, and another 15 people were interviewed later that month. Investigators then spoke to five more people in February and March before conducting interviews with 72 people in April, about the time media coverage of Johnson’s death gained momentum. One person was interviewed in May, according to the investigative file.

I can only imagine how frustrated and disgusted the FBI must be right now with the way the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. They certainly should have known better and their failure to carry out their responsibilities in a competent and professional manner suggests at best incompetence and at worst participation in a conspiracy to cover-up a homicide.

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This is our 847th post in 26 months.

We received one donation yesterday for $25 for which we are very grateful, but we had 807 visitors to the site and 1,459 page views. This sort of response to requests for donations is extremely frustrating and depressing. I realize it’s easy to assume others will step in and contribute, but that type of thinking doesn’t work when everyone does it. We’re not trying to get rich here, but this just isn’t working out for us.

Fred


Three troubling questions and a theory about Kendrick Johnson’s death

January 8, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CAUTION: Graphic images. Advance the tape to the 3:44 mark to see the Nike shoes in the video

Good afternoon:

I write this afternoon about the Nike shoes Kendrick Johnson was wearing the day he disappeared and the pair of Adidas shoes that he was attempting to retrieve from inside a rolled-up mat. I have three troubling questions and a theory about how he died.

According to Russ Bynum at the Huffington Post:

The Associated Press obtained the 522-page case file through an open records request and reviewed it, along with security camera footage and crime scene and autopsy photographs, for this story.

Three students told deputies that some classmates kept gym shoes stashed behind or beneath the gym mats, especially if they didn’t rent school lockers. One said he and Kendrick shared a pair of Adidas shoes and that after class the student always would “go to the mats, jump up and toss the shoes inside the middle of the hole.”

When Kendrick was found, the Nike shoes he’d worn to school were tucked behind his legs inside the mat. A science textbook and a folder containing his class schedule and latest report card lay on the floor near the mats. Also on the floor was an Adidas shoe. Deputies found its match pinned beneath Kendrick’s arm and head.

Medical Examiner Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft found no wounds except for a scrape on the back of Kendrick’s right wrist and three small injuries on his right pinky. She determined he died accidentally from “positional asphyxia,” meaning his body was stuck in a position that prevented him from breathing.

(1) Why are KL’s Nike shoes “tucked behind his legs inside the mat?”

Evidently, he took them off before he attempted to retrieve the Adidas shoes. I do not see how he could have reached them and pulled them into the hole behind him. Did someone toss them into the hole behind him after he was already stuck.

(2) Why is one Adidas shoe found outside the mat and the other one inside?

Apparently, he had retrieved one shoe, but not the other. Why was he able to retrieve one shoe, but not the other? Also, given the shoe-sharing arrangement that he had with the other boy, I am not seeing any reason to believe that either boy had experienced any difficulty retrieving the shoes in the past. Why all of a sudden did Kendrick have a problem this time?

(3) Assuming Kendrick reached into the tube with one hand while he held on to the mat with his other hand to keep from slipping into the tube and to pull himself back out of the tube after he grabbed the shoe, aren’t the “scrape on the back of Kendrick’s right wrist and three small injuries on his right pinky” consistent with someone prying his fingers loose so that he could not extricate himself from the tube?

I suspect this is how Kendrick Johnson died.

The person responsible for his death seized the opportunity to loosen his fingers and then tossed his Nike shoes in after him so no one would notice them next to the hole and take a look. The Adidas shoe remained with Kendrick’s books and report card on the floor where he left it after retrieving it.

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Thank you,

Fred


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