Kendrick Johnson case to be reopened 8 years after his death

Johnson's cause of death left many suspicious

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The case of Kendrick Johnson is being reopened.

According to a report released Monday by WALB News 10, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office has reopened the Johnson case. His death was initially ruled an accident. Johnson’s lifeless body was discovered at the old Lowndes High School gymnasium in Georgia on January 11, 2013. He was just 17 years old.

Sheriff Ashley Paulk told WALB News 10 the officers received 17 boxes of documents along with computer towers and hard drives of data and information that had been collected during previous investigations. They are now comparing the old information to new information learned about the case.

Kendrick Johnson thegrio.com
(Credit: Johnson family)

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Paulk said information about the case will not be disclosed until it is closed again.

A petition on Change.org that has been posting updates about the case shared the following on Tuesday:

“Hello hello hello, everyone!!! I am glad to share great news with you all, since we all did this together and stuck by each others side despite the trolls. Sheriff Paulk from Lowndes County has reopened the Kendrick Johnson case. I will be making a quick video either today or tomorrow on my Youtube channel about this magnificent victory. Although it has been reopened, let’s pray that the Johnson family nor us are let down again because there is still A LOT of work to be done.

And I, Ms. Jay, demands that all of these monsters is required to do a lie detector test not only for the killers but also everyone who knew, which includes teachers, students, and family members!!!! Count y’all days!!! There are orange suits in the jail that are eager to be worn. Thank you.”

Kendrick Johnson thegrio.com
Kendrick Johnson (Credit: Johnson family)

As reported by theGrio, the protest and nationwide civil unrest over the death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked a petition calling for the investigation into the death of  Johnson to be reopened. 

The body of the high school sophomore was discovered rolled up in a gym mat. State and local officials ruled Johnson suffocated after reaching for a pair of sneakers inside a mat and getting stuck, theGrio previously reported.

But his parents never accepted that his death was an accident. In 2018, they asked for and received permission to exhume their son’s body to have a third autopsy conducted. 

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“Lord to have to disturb his resting peace breaks my heart into so many pieces but it has to be done,” Jacquelyn Johnson posted of her son on Facebook at the time. “The worst part is to have to bury him a third time like another whole funeral and he’s leaving us again.”

The Change.org petition is currently calling on the public to help with the “Justice for Kendrick Johnson” campaign. 

The petition, created by Jay Holden, notes how Johnson’s popularity as a high school athlete made him a favorite with the ladies. It also noted that the male students were said to have been jealous of him. One such student was Brian Bell, who allegedly confessed to killing Johnson. 

“Brian Bell has also stated that he killed Kendrick Johnson multiple times over the phone. Brandon Bell, who is both a student at Valdosta High School and the brother of Brian Bell, had got drunk at a party on July 4 of 2013 and told people that Brian Bell killed Kendrick Johnson,” the petition alleged.

The petition goes on to address Ryan Anthony Domek-Hernandez, who said Bell told him that he “killed Kendrick Johnson by striking his neck with a 45-pound weight/dumbbell after they began arguing over Taylon Eakin,” a girl Bell allegedly liked. Eakin allegedly liked Johnson. 

“According to Brandon Bell, Brian Bell had told Ryan that if he did not keep quiet and help him move Kendrick Johnson’s body, his father, who is Rick Bell, who is a retired F.B.I. agent would make sure that he would pay for it,” the petition stated.

It goes on to note that “After Kendrick Johnson’s mother and father [Kenneth Johnson] did a second autopsy on him, they had found out that his death was NOT accidental and he had died from blunt force trauma to the upper neck on the right.”

The family’s third autopsy supported the results of the second and that Johnson died of “non-accidental” trauma to his body, Atlanta Black Star reported.

Now more than ever, the Johnson family needs help in their ongoing fight for justice.

“PLEASE HELP US!! WE HAVE ALL OF THE ANSWERS BUT WE DEMAND JUSTICE!!!,” the petition states.

Additional reporting by Ny Magee

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