VALDOSTA, Georgia – A Georgia sheriff has reopened the case of a teenager found dead eight years ago in a rolled up exercise mat.
After two years of inquiries in Lowndes County, Georgia, Sheriff Ashley Paulk received previously unpublished documents from the Justice Department and officially reopened the Kendrick Johnson case.
The body of Kendrick “KJ” Johnson was found upside down in a vertical exercise mat at Lowndes High School in January 2013.
A state autopsy found the 17-year-old accidentally died, and a federal review of the case ended in 2016 when the Justice Department announced that it had not found “sufficient evidence to support the federal criminal complaint.”
The Johnson family have alleged their son died from a bad game and have filed multiple lawsuits against dozen of defendants over the years.
Paulk said the Johnson family was instrumental in preserving the documents.
There are 17 boxes of materials, computers and hard drives that will take a lot of time and manpower to review, Paulk said.
The Lowndes County Sheriffs Office will take the information and compare it to previous results to check for any discrepancies.
“We are confident that what (we) come up with will be the truth,” said Paulk.
Given the amount of information, Paulk said he didn’t have a schedule on how long this could take, but he was running it himself.
The released documents will only be sealed for law enforcement purposes by order of a judge, ie no information from the documents will be released.