WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Buddies: Kendrick, described as ‘quiet and shy’, behind friend Soloman Arrington at a Lowndes High School Vikings game in 2011. Soloman was sent a
Shunned: Soloman and another friend of Kendrick’s, Rickey Gidens, right, say many at the high school now refuse to speak to them since the teenager’s mysterious death
Moore said if the review of the evidence warrants it he will ask the FBI to investigate Kendrick’s death was the result of a crime’ and potentially prosecute ‘those responsible.’
As MailOnline exclusively reported Kendrick’s father Kenneth Johnson is convinced his son was killed and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office failed in their duty to thoroughly investigate the death because of a ‘good ol’ boy system’ – an allegation officials deny.
He also revealed how Kendrick had previously been involved in a fight with a football teammate on a bus that had led to the police being called. But officers said they investigated the scuffle and ruled it had nothing to do with Kendrick’s death.
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Shock was already setting in after Soloman learned that his best friend had died when he was allegedly sent the message which left him looking over his shoulder.
‘I just didn’t want to think about it, really,’ he said. But his mother, Keisha Moore, took action.
She said: ‘It was a message that said my son “would end up in a body bag,” and I thought this is nothing to play with. This is not a joke.’
Ms Moore reported the message to a detective from the Lowndes County Sherriff’s Office, but says he quickly downplayed it. ‘The detective told me I didn’t have to worry about that person because they knew where he was,’ she said.
Freak death: Kendrick’s body, left, was found stuck inside a rolled up mat in his high school gym on January 11. Nearly a year later the family are still fighting for justice after the police said it was an ‘accident’
Kendrick’s father Kenneth and mother Jacqueline, seen center protesting outside the courthouse, are grateful that a federal prosecutor is reviewing the case after months of campaigning
When she pleaded for the authorities to pursue it further she says detectives there told her they were hamstrung because the person was out of their jurisdiction. ‘They said they couldn’t do nothing because we live in a different county,’ she said.
Ms Moore and Soloman haven’t got the message anymore and refuse to say who sent it.
However, Lt. Stryde Jones, of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office told MailOnline that authorities were aware of the comments made to Soloman and possibly others insisting they were taken seriously and investigated.
‘They were not threats,’ he said. ‘They were comments made on Facebook, I believe, and we followed up and interviewed those that allegedly made them.’
He said those interviews ‘didn’t provide us any information that would be beneficial.’
Before Kendrick’s body was identified, Ms Moore says members from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office questioned Arrington at the station to talk about his missing friend in the hope he might be able to find him.
‘They came here before on that day and they ask me questions about Kendrick,’ Arrington said. ‘They said he was missing.
‘They was asking a lot of questions like what [Kendrick] had on the last time you seen him what kinds of shoes he was wearing.’
She said it was in the middle of their interview with a detective when her phone began ringing.
‘We was like, wait a minute they found Kendrick at school; we need to leave here.’
Soloman Arrington and his mother headed straight to Lowndes High School.
They claim that they were told by a school principal that another girl received a similar threatening message. But Ms Moore said neither the sheriff or school authorities pursued the issue thoroughly.
‘The principal showed the message to the resource officer and still nothing was done,’ she said.
The Lowndes County Board of Education declined to comment about Kendrick’s death or the Facebook comments.
The original investigation headed by Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department along with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) determined that Johnson’s died by ‘positional asphyxia’ while the young boy attempted to recover sneakers he’d stashed in a wrestling mat at Lowndes High School’s old gym.
Last moments: Kendrick (white shirt) is spotted on CCTV moments before entering the gym after another boy. He was found dead the next day. The family are demanding more footage to be released
A funeral took place but Kendrick’s family later pushed to exhume the body and had an independent doctor perform a second autopsy.
Shockingly, the boy’s organs were shockingly mishandled and possibly even destroyed after being moved from the morgue to the funeral home and replaced with newspaper.
Dr. William R. Anderson issued a report in August saying the teenager died from blunt force trauma near his carotid artery and that the fatal blow appeared to be non-accidental. A judge is now weighing whether or not to call a coroner’s inquest into Kendrick’s death before a jury.
A spokeswoman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the agency who performed the original autopsy, said they ‘don’t have an opinion one way or the other’ if the judge moves ahead with the inquest.
GBI Spokeswoman Sherry Lang said she’s confident their agency’s investigating will stand up to any scrutiny.
‘We stand by the autopsy results 100 percent and we have complete faith with our medical examiners and we stand by our report.’
On the day Johnson was found, another friend Rickey Giddens remembers everybody’s mobile phones pinging nonstop. But then he saw Kendrick’s mother and everything changed.
‘This student came back to class and she was crying saying they found a dead body. We ran to the front and I didn’t know it was Kendrick until I see his mama out there crying.’
Rickey and many of Kendrick’s friends were puzzled why the school administration didn’t suspend classes for the day and send everybody home.
‘They were still having classes like it was a normal day,’ he told MailOnline. ‘It was like they found a dog or something.
‘They told us ‘Call your parents if you want. And we had to come back to school the next day.’
An extremely disturbing photo of Kendrick’s face, right, was released, showing it bloodied and bloated – leading the family’s own private forensic expert to say that he had been victim of blunt force trauma. On the left is a picture of blood found on the gym wall. The police insist this was not Kendrick’s
After Johnson’s death Soloman and his friends say they were given the silent treatment by many of at the school. ‘It was different,’ he said. ‘They didn’t talk to us no more. We’re in the middle of everybody but not many people talk to us.’
The dead boys’ friends and family say they were also slighted when virtually every member from the high school faculty, including his coaches, were absent at the funeral.
‘Only two teachers came to K.J.’s funeral,’ Rickey told MailOnline. ‘And a substitute teacher came.’
The three teachers joined a mass of mourners; some included Kendrick’s middle school football coaches and his middle school principals, while others traveled from rival high schools and drove long distances to pay their respects. Rickey said the abandonment hurt.
Kendrick was discovered when two students noticed his socked feet popping out of one of the vertically stowed wrestling mats where students would stash clothes and personal items to avoid paying locker fees.
The mats themselves stand six-foot tall and Kendrick Johnson was 5-feet-10 – this fact alone has been troubling for the boy’s parents and friends to understand.
They struggle to understand how Kendrick could have got stuck in the mat if his arms were outstretched to reach for the shows, meaning the rest of his body would be sticking out.
An extremely disturbing picture of Kendrick’s bloated and bloodied face after his death have fueled cries of injustice.
Kendrick’s father has also been very vocal as to how Kendrick, who’s shoulders measure 19 inches across, could have fit in the mat when the opening is usually 14-and-a half inches across.
Motion-sensored surveillance footage released last week shows Kendrick walking through the corridor of Lowndes High School’s old gym at around 1 pm on January 10 along with at least one other student who enters the gym ahead of Kendrick.
Fight: Keisha Moore, Kendrick’s aunt and Soloman’s mother, took the Facebook message to the police who said told the family it was nothing to worry about
final insult: When Kendrick’s body was exhumed for another autopsy, the family were horrified to discover his organs had been destroyed and replaced with newspaper
It is only partial footage, however, and the parents are still waiting for the release of even more footage – about 1,900 hours – going back to when Kendrick went missing.
That evening basketball teams and the school’s color guard were both captured on camera practicing. That evening Kendrick’s family filed a missing person’s report.
It wasn’t until January 11 that the gruesome discovery of Kendrick’s body was made at 10.30am.
Shoes found near the body were splattered with red, but the authorities said this wasn’t blood and didn’t collect them as evidence.
Responding cops cordoned off the gym investigators found two specks of blood.
‘Nothing was done with K.J’s body,’ Lt. Stryde Jones told MailOnline. ‘He wasn’t moved. He wasn’t examined until the coroner arrived.’
According to the Lt. Jones, the students were questioned and the following morning’s physical education class was as well. Two blood samples were discovered and tagged at the scene.
While one of them turned out to be a bloody tissue discarded in a bathroom nearby, another was found on a wall nearby Kendrick’s body and the testing was inconclusive.
‘The forensic testing doesn’t support a fight,’ Lt. Jones said. ‘Blood was found in the bathroom and the other was from an unknown source.’
Pressed about whether that blood sample could return a hit back to another student who could have valuable information about Kendrick’’s death, Lt. Jones said they ‘still have the DNA sample’ but the chances of determining who it belongs to was slim. ‘It’s a school of 3,000,’ he said.
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