During the Christmas break, janitors stored 3 types of gym mats in the lower left corner (south-west) of the old gym. The mats were neatly rolled, bound and stored vertically. At the back, against the wall were 4 blue cheerleading mats, in front of those 12 yellow wrestling mats and 5 red gym mats that students used to take jump shots with. Here’s a wide shot of the mats.
Students returned to school on January 9th from Christmas break. On January 11, 2013 at approximately 10:30 am, students playing on top of gym mats saw a pair of socked feet near the top of one of the blue cheerleading mats. Police were on site at the school and entered the old gym about 3 minutes after it was reported (10:35 am). Kendrick’s mom was in the school’s admin. office at that time and overheard on a counsellor’s too loud cell phone that a body had been found in the gym.
In an attempt to get Kendrick out of the mat, the coach climbed on top of the mats and tried to lift Kendrick out. He couldn’t and asked another student to help him move away the mats so they could lower the one Kendrick was in. Once he lowered the one Kendrick was in, Kendrick and a basketball shoe tumbled out near the wall. See page 6 of 56. The student and coach knew immediately it was too late to help Kendrick. The look of him and the smell of him told them they were too late. The coach then ordered everyone out of the gym. Kendrick is in the blue cheerleading mat on its side here. Look closely and you can see his socked feet. Here is a shot of the aftermath. You’ll also note on page 6 of 56, the first two officers who arrived wrote they had to move 3 mats out of the way to get to the south of the mat Kendrick was in. They noted he had come out of the end of the mat up to his rib cage.
In this article, the reporters who have seen all of the video confirm, you can see the students who first alerted to Kendrick in the mat, the coach goes over and the pulling down of the mats was on the video-tape recently released. Here is a closer shot of Kendrick inside the mat after the coach and students pulled it down.
At a slightly different angle, in this picture you can see further into the mat and notice the pair of shoes that Kendrick is believed to have been wearing when he fell into the mat.
This video demonstrates how hard it is to hear someone call for help from within one of these mats as well as how difficult it would be to tip it over even if it wasn’t surrounded by other mats.
When the coach pulled down the mat, Kendrick and one of his basketball shoes tumbled out the mat near the wall. They knew he was dead by the look of him and by the smell. The shoe that was in cheerleading mat near his head is pictured here: Note the laces are soaked in blood and the stitching on the shoe near the laces have turned red from blood.
The other basketball shoe was found on the floor in front of the yellow wrestling mats. Here is a wide shot of the mats. The cheerleading mats (blue) were at the back, in front of those were the wrestling mats and in front of those red gym mats. All together there were about 21 mats in this corner.
Here is a close up of the one basketball shoe that was outside of the mats.
From this angle, note there is a gray hoodie on the floor behind the yellow wrestling mat.
Kendrick’s family initially told investigators that the hoodie did not belong to Kendrick. The family and their representatives have floated a theory that they see what may be blood on the cuff sleeve of the hoodie. It’s widely reported, the police did not collect this item in their evidence collection but the source data has it listed as evidence #4. Kenneth Johnson, asked to see evidence #4 when picking up his son’s personal property on June 10, 2013 after the police closed their investigation. Mr. Johnson told police that the hoodie is his son’s and he’ll be in touch. See page 2 of 4. Here’s a close up of the hoodie.
As recently as last week, I saw Anderson Cooper of AC360 on CNN tell viewers that blood found on the wall in the gym was not tested. This is another false report. This blood splatter was found 50 feet away from where Kendrick was found. It’s on the south wall between the bleachers, according to the crime lab report. I do know the bleachers are low to the ground. On page 6 of 6 the investigators report that the blood on the wall was not a DNA match of Kendrick Johnson. So this was tested. To learn who the blood belongs to, 3,000 students would have to be tested and for all anyone knows, it could belong to a visiting team member of an opposing basketball player or guest. Unless there is a tie in to Kendrick in the mats, who’s blood that is may have to remain a mystery. It doesn’t look like it was a recent splatter. In fact, parts of it look faded.
Kendrick was video-taped entering the gym at 1:09 pm on January 10th. Note the red mats have been pulled from the front pile of mats and reading student’s statements we learned were used by some to make jump-shots. Also note the height of the bleachers on the far (south) wall. From this angle, the mats that house Kendrick’s basketball shoes are in the far left-hand (south-west) corner.
Here are links to all the police source data released so far.
Jan ’13 Incident Reports
Crime Lab Report
Mar ’13 Incident Reports
Apr ’13 incident Reports
May ’13 Incident Reports
June ’13 Incident Reports
Family Attorney Correspondence (including independent autopsy)
Clearer copy of independent autopsy
GBI Coroner’s Report
GBI Medical Examiner’s Report (Autopsy)
Property Evidence Forms
The family lawyer asked the local NAACP and the SCLC to investigate the matter. Leigh Touchton was their lead investigator and concluded that this was exactly as the Sheriff’s department concluded, a horrible accident of reaching for a basketball shoe and falling into a cheerleading mat some 20 hours before he was found. On this blog, a radio interview can be heard of Leigh Touchton’s findings. I highly suggest you find a half hour and listen to it. Ms. Touchton became quite concerned that the family and their lawyer were spreading untruths and as a result, she resigned from the local NAACP. Rev. Rose of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) agrees and supports Ms. Touchton’s findings. He has offered $10,000 to anyone who can bring forth information of foul play in this case. He thinks his money is safe because there was no foul play. Rev. Rose helped the family raise $5,000 to find answers and in his quest to learn the truth has come to believe there is too many people who would have needed to conspire and put their careers at risk to have lied. Here is an interview of Rev. Rose and his thoughts today.
If you had time to listen to Leigh Touchton’s radio interview above, you know the Coroner in the state of Georgia gets licensed by taking a weekend course. His/Her duty is to learn to tell if a body is deceased, arrange transport and call for an autopsy if the death is suspicious.
V.P. at Re-Newsit, did a blog post about the Coroner in Georgia. While a big deal has been made about his not being called at 10:30 a.m. when the body was discovered, Sheriff Prines explains here why he delayed in calling the Coroner. The Coroner cannot walk through the scene to rule a person deceased and no one can touch or move a body until a Coroner has made that determination. If Sheriff Prine had of called the Coroner at 10:35 am, then he would have sat and waited until 4:00 pm before investigators had processed the area leading up to the body. The Coroner was called at 3:45pm advising a body needed to be assessed as dead and he made his way to the scene. The Coroner has no medical training and this particular Coroner, Bill Watson, has shown lack of knowledge in medical issues and quite frankly grammar and spelling. In his death investigation report you’ll note, Mr. Watson writes he pronounced Johnson on January 10th at 4:35pm. I think he meant the 11th.
Mr. Watson also mixed up the medical terms viscera (internal organs) and vitrious (eye fluid) when telling what got used up during Johnson’s autopsy. Sherry Lang, spokesperson for the GBI, told Crimesider
that Watson’s “accounting of the conversation with Mr. Bryan is inaccurate and incorrect.” She said Bryan was talking about “vitrious,” fluid of the eye, and not “viscera,” internal organs.
While the Sheriff’s office has been accused of a rush to judgement, the Valdosta Lowndes Crime Laboratory Report, dated January 25th indicates investigators processed the scene as a possible crime scene. They were called at 10:48 a.m. on January 11th, just 16 minutes after the first officers entered the gym. The first criminologist arrived at 11:08 a.m.
Much has been made of a pair of shoes found in the gym with red matter on them. On page 3 of 5 of the crime lab report, we learned the crime lab tested the shoes for blood and learned the test was negative. These shoes were found on the other side of the gym, the north wall by the bleachers. These are the shoes that tested negative for blood:
Global Grind posted an article of mysterious things in the case and used the test results from this shoe but you’ll note in their report, they used the picture of the basketball Adidas shoe that was confirmed to be in blood. Here is a screen cap of the blog post posted on Nov. 7, 2013.
We learn that crime scene tape was set-up and 9 officers from the local Sheriff’s department were involved in processing the scene, 3 criminalists from the crime laboratory and six Georgia Bureau of Investigations (State) investigators were on scene throughout the day.
The yellow folder that Kendrick was seen carrying in the hallway at 12:59 pm was found near the mats along with a blue physical science textbook.
Bill Watson arrived at 4:00 p.m.
“Johnson’s body was positioned lying approximately on his left side sticking out of the rolled-up mat from his head to approximately his abdominal area. The remaining of his body from approximately the abdominal area to his feet was inside the rolled-up mat. Johnson’s head was on the concrete floor in a pool of blood. Johnson’s body was removed from the mat so Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson could continue his examination. Johnson was wearing a white in color undershirt, an orange in color tee shirt, a white in color tee shirt, a belt, blue in color jeans, black in color shorts, boxer underwear and white in color socks. There was one (1) pair of white, grey and orange in color NIKE shoes inside of the mat (Crime scene Item # 8), which were not on his feet. The NIKE shoes were documented with photographs. Johnson’s body was placed into the supine position so that his body could be examined by Lowndes County Corner Bill Watson. During his examination Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson unfastened Johnson’s belt and jeans. Johnson’s body was documented with additional photographs.”
At 4:10 p.m. the crime lab report goes on to say that two criminologists placed Johnson’s body
“on a sterile white sheet to conduct an additional cursory examination for documentation. It appeared that rigor and livor mortis had already set in, which was consistent with the position of the way the body was found. Johnson’s right arm was in a position that appeared to cover his face and body with his left arm was along his body with his forearm bent back towards his head. Johnson’s fingers were loosely curled up on both hands. One black wire with white ear phones was hooked round Johnson’s left hand middle and index finger. There appeared that rigor mortis had set in because of the stiffness of his body. Levity was present on his head ,arms and chest area. Johnson’s face was swollen and had blood exiting from his eyes, nose, and mouth. There was visible dried blood on Johnson’s arms, chest, and face- the smell of Johnson’s body appeared that it was starting to decompose. Johnson’s eyes were swollen, fixed, and dilated. Blood was visible in the eyes with signs of petechia. There appeared to be no signs of blunt force trauma on Johnson’s face or body. There appeared to be no visible signs of wounds to Johnson’s body. There were visible signs of skin slippage on Johnson’s abdomen area, face, and arm. Johnson’s body was documented with additional detailed photographs.”
At the request of Bill Watson, Coroner, an autopsy was performed by Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft on January 14, 2013. Dr. Gaffney-Kraft is board certified in forensic, anatomical and clinical pathology. She found that Kendrick died as a result of accidental positional asphyxia.
In June 2013, the family exhumed KJ’s body and bought an independent pathologist from Florida to conduct a second autopsy. Dr. William Anderson found a non-accidental blow to the right-side of KJ’s neck caused his death.
This is not the first time Dr. Anderson has contradicted a finding and surprisingly, he found the same cause of death. Adam Floyd, reporter for the Valdosta Daily times wrote
“Anderson has previously contradicted an official finding with a similar conclusion. According to a 2004 Orlando Sentinel article, Anderson, a former pathologist with the Orange-Osceola morgue in Florida, joined two other colleagues questioning the official cause of a 1998 death of a Rollins College student.
The chief medical examiner at the time ruled the death as a result of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Anderson reviewed the records and concluded that the death was due to “blunt-force trauma to the neck,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“At the time of the article, all three pathologists were no longer with the morgue. Anderson resigned his position in a dispute over work related issues, a second pathologist was fired, and the third retired after the State Medical Examiner’s Commission ordered him to stop performing autopsies due to repeated errors, according to the Sentinel.”
U.S. Attorney Michael Moore has opened an investigation to review what has been done in this case. We await the results of his investigation.