The family of a Valdosta, Georgia teenager is finally going to get what it's been angling for since his highly suspicious death back in January--and it merits a repost from yesterday. In January, Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes County High School. His death was officially ruled a tragic accident; according to the coroner's report, he suffocated after falling into the mat. But his family didn't buy it, and was able to get an independent autopsy that strongly suggested he'd been murdered. Well, yesterday the area U.S. Attorney announced he is opening an investigation into Johnson's death.
Michael Moore, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said Thursday that federal authorities will investigate the circumstances behind the death of Johnson, whose bloody body was found inside a rolled-up gym mat on January 11.This came less than 24 hours after a judge ordered the release of additional surveillance footage that Lowndes County sheriff's deputies took during their investigation. Incredibly, they'd cited privacy concerns in their refusal to release the video. But an independent autopsy by Kendrick's family revealed Kendrick had died from a blow to the neck rather than suffocation. Seen in that light, to put it mildly the sheriff's refusal to release the footage doesn't add up.
Johnson's family suspects the 17-year-old was murdered and that someone has tried to cover up evidence in the case.
While warning his jurisdiction is limited as a federal prosecutor, Moore said that after lengthy review of evidence collected by authorities and the family's own investigator that "sufficient basis exists" to warrant a formal review of the facts.
Should evidence gathered in the investigation warrant criminal or civil rights charges, he said he would recommend them.
"I will follow the facts wherever they lead. My objective is to discover the truth," he said.
It goes without saying that Kendrick's family is elated at this development. They spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer just hours after Moore announced the investigation. Watch here.
Moore may want to have a hazmat suit handy, because a lot about this case smells. EMTs who examined Kendrick's body first found evidence of blunt-force trauma to the neck, but it wasn't mentioned in the state examiner's report. Additionally, the scene was an absolute bloodbath. When CNN showed previously released video and about 700 pictures to former FBI agent Harold Copus, he concluded that Kendrick was murdered. To add insult to injury, the pathologist who conducted the second autopsy found that several organs had been removed prior to Kendrick's burial, and the cavities stuffed with newspaper. The Justice Department had initially decided against getting involved when this story first broke in September. But apparently the welter of disturbing new evidence has convinced Moore to act.
If there's a cover-up in this case--and it certainly looks like there is one--then Moore's decision to get involved is the worst possible news for anyone involved.