The Mysterious Death of Kendrick Johnson

The body of 17 year old Kendrick Johnson was discovered in the Lowndes High School in Voldosta, Georgia upside down in a standing gym mat on January 11, 2013, his death would go on to be the center of major public outrage and the subject of many conspiracy theories.


17 year old Kendrick Johnson
“AMERICA WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE” spread on the walls of the Kendrick Johnson Memorial Facebook page.

January 11th, 2013 the body of 17 year old Kendrick Johnson was found upside down in a rolled up gym mat standing at around 6 feet tall in one of Lowndes High School gymnasiums known as the “old gym”. 7 years later his death would continue to baffle the public, and would be the result of confounding conspiracy theories consuming the nation and the Johnson Family as we all await answers.



According to the Lowndes County Sheriffs Office Incident Report, Sergeant Craig Robey was dispatched to the home of Jacquelyn Johnson at 12:30 AM January 11, 2013, in regards to her son Kendrick Johnson, who had failed to come home. Jacquelyn told Sergeant Robey she last saw her son at 6:30 AM that morning board a school bus to his high school, Lowndes High school. She also stated that once school was over, Kendrick attended a basketball game and was told, by him, another family member was going to pick him up. Once it reached 11:00 pm and there was no sign of Kendrick, Jacquelyn went to the Lowndes High school. Unable to locate him, Jacquelyn called 911.

Now 7:45 AM the next morning, with still no sign of Kendrick, Jacquelyn and her daughter Kenyetta, arrived at the Lowndes High School to confirm with school and law enforcement officials of Kendrick's absence. Law enforcement officials didn’t need to look far, almost 3 hours later the body of Kendrick Johnson was discovered just meters away.

The family of Kendrick Johnson could immediately sense something was wrong, and refused to accept their scenario as the official turn of events, and to this day claim Kendrick Johnson died by homicide. Investigators ruled his death accidental citing positional asphyxia, theorizing Kendrick got stuck in the mat when trying to retrieve a pair of shoes he shared with a friend. Students of Lowndes high school corroborated this, stating it was common for students to hide shoes and other things in the gym mats, rather than paying $5 dollars to rent a locker. According to investigators, Johnson and his friend normally stored the shoes in it with the mat on its side, however, due to Christmas break, all the mats had been turned up. Unable to tilt the mat on its side, Kendrick got on top of the mat and got stuck inside. Unable to get out, Kendrick suffocated.


The crime scene found that shoes creviced next to Kendrick's knees were indeed his, but they were unable to give an explanation as to how Kendrick’s shoes had got off his feet after he was already stuck inside the mat. Investigators were able to confirm Kendrick did have an arm sticking above his head as if reaching for the shoes. But something to be noted, (refer to picture) all of Kendrick’s blood that had spilled from his facial orifices while he was upside down. The blood all landed on the floor, with somehow not a drop of blood hitting the shoe on the floor.

At the scene, Investigators also found an orange hoodie and a pair of black shoes laying along the gym floor, and traces of blood found on the wall of the gym. The blood was proven not to be Kendricks, theorizing the blood was old and had been there for a long time. However, the hoodie and shoes were not taken into evidence. In the State of Georgia it is required by law that the coroner be notified immediately once a body has been discovered, in this case, he wasn’t contacted till 6 hours later.

Investigators' theory of Kendrick getting stuck in the mat while reaching for a pair of shoes is plausible. Gravity would have been on his side, making it easier for him to shimmy his way down the mat upside down. However, Kendrick Johnson's parents were able to debunk this theory. The width of the hole in that mat measured at about 14 inches. Kendrick's shoulder width measured well over that, at 19 inches. Kendrick Johnsons father demonstrated how it wold have been nearly impossible for Kendrick for maneuver his way down that mat, exploring the possibility he could have been rolled into the mat.


After Anderson's findings were publicized, the Johnson Family filed a civil suit against the funeral home seeking monetary damages for their malpractice. The funeral home who received Kendrick’s body claimed they received Kendrick’s body without his organs and used newspapers to fill the void in his body. From what I gather, this is somewhat a normal, but outdated, procedure with funeral homes usually using cotton to fill the bodies. Anderson also found the cause of death to be blunt force trauma, not an accidental death.

After Anderson's findings were publicized, the Johnson Family filed a civil suit against the funeral home seeking monetary damages for their malpractice. The Johnson Family would go on to file many civil suits in an attempt to uncover any possible information regarding the death of their son.

Kendrick Johnson's family filed a wrongful death suit against the Lowndes high school principal, the superintendent, and the Lowndes County Board of education citing Kendrick was “was violently assaulted, severely injured, suffered great physical pain and mental anguish, and subjected to insult and loss of life”. Kendrick’s family contested that the persons in question were negligent and violated Kendrick’s basic human rights based on racial prejudice. All charges would eventually be dropped, and the Johnson Family would be forced to pay all the legal fees of those involved.




The family of Kendrick Johnson firmly believes his death was not handled the right way due to his race, with all of the investigators being white, and racism still strongly prevalent in Georgia. The family of Kendrick would cite that if he was white, his case would have been handled differently from the start. When they received Kendrick's body back from the coroner, they were horrified to see Kendrick's face was visibly swollen and looked as if he was assaulted. The photos of Kendrick were posted on Facebook by his parents on the Kendrick Johnson Memorial Page. Warning: these pictures are very graphic.



A well known Hacktivist group called Anonymous, know for exposing counter culture news and activism, realeased a video about the death of Kendrick Johnson, exposing the injustice and coverup behind the case. The video can be viewed here.

Filled with big dreams of playing professional sports, Kendrick’s dreams laid on the floor of the basketball court, only to be destroyed by the fumbling mass of shoes above.

A petition to reopen Kendrick Johnsons case can be found here, and visit the Kendrick Johnson Memorial page to receive more information.

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Murders & Coffee strives to bring awareness of the unsolved cold cases that have consumed our nation. With the creation of #MissingPersonMonday, I have made it my mission to not let these faces be forgotten

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