Gym Mat Death Update!

kj parents
For those who don’t know or have forgotten Kendrick Johnson was found deceased on January 11, 2013. He was discovered rolled in a wrestling mat at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga., where he was a student as well as a great Basketball player. An autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of stated that Johnson had died from positional asphyxia, and the case was ruled an accidental death by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Investigation. They hypothesized that Johnson had fallen into the mat while looking for a shoe and died after being unable to get out. Three students told investigators that it was common for some students to store their shoes behind or under the rolled up mats. Johnson was not wearing shoes when he was found. A student at the school said that he shared a pair of Adidas shoes with Johnson, and that after gym class Johnson would always “go to the mats, jump up and toss the shoes inside the middle of the hole.”


Johnson’s family has questioned this hypothesis. An independent autopsy conducted by a private pathologist in the service of Johnson’s parents came to a different conclusion, finding that his death was caused by blunt force trauma. The independent autopsy found, among other things, that Johnson’s body was stuffed with newspapers. The funeral home which processed the body following the GBI’s autopsy stated that they never received Johnson’s organs from the coroner. Johnson’s internal organs were said to have been “destroyed through natural process” and “discarded by the prospector before the body was sent back to Valdosta,” according to the funeral home owner. That left a void, which the funeral home filled. The funeral home owner stated that it is standard practice to fill a void in this fashion, and that cotton or sawdust may also be employed for this purpose. Johnson’s family filed a complaint, with a regulatory body, against the funeral home operator.

A subsequent investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office found that the funeral home did not follow “best practice” and that other material was “more acceptable than newspaper”. Nonetheless, the investigation cleared the funeral home of any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State said that the investigation found that the funeral home “didn’t violate any rules”. The Johnson family subsequently filed a civil suit against the funeral home, seeking money damages.

In November 2013, 290 hours of surveillance tape from 35 cameras that covered the gym area was released to CNN following a court request. A forensic analyst enlisted by CNN found that tapes from two cameras are missing an hour and five minutes of footage, while another set was missing two hours and ten minutes of footage. The cameras were motion activated, and the mat area was believed to be outside the camera’s range.

Here’s The Update!

A judge has ordered the parents of a Valdosta teen found dead in a rolled-up gym mat to pay nearly $300,000 in attorney fees to those they accused of killing their son and the parties they alleged conspired to cover it up. What is your intake of this whole situation?


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