Parents see answers in death of son found in gym mat

By Lisa Ray, Managing Editor, ClickOnDetroit.com, @ClickOnLisa, lray@wdiv.com
Published On: Jan 25 2014 11:13:56 AM EST
Gym mat death

Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory

Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson still spend their days outside the Lowndes County Courthouse in Georgia, standing vigil for their son, Kendrick, whose mysterious death a year ago poses many questions in their minds.

The original investigation by the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office concluded that 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson died by accident while reaching for a shoe, but the Johnsons don't believe that. They're planning yet another rally in Valdosta's James W. Saunders Memorial Park at noon Saturday to again demand answers.

"They know something happened in that gym and they don't want it to come out," Kenneth Johnson said.

Federal authorities, too, have their doubts about the original investigation's findings. CNN has learned that the FBI has been in South Georgia conducting interviews, and the Johnsons recently spent almost three hours with investigators at an FBI field office in Thomasville, an hour west of their hometown.

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore said in November that federal authorities would investigate Johnson's death, and last month, the FBI seized the original hard drives from the surveillance system at Lowndes High School, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation surrounding the hard drives.

The federal investigation has yielded few details, but Moore issued a statement Thursday: "As we approach the anniversary of Kendrick's death, I am mindful that there is a great deal of interest in the status of our efforts. As I have previously stated, in order to protect the integrity of any ongoing investigation by my office, I typically refrain from making any specific comments about the investigation until it is concluded. As we continue our work in this matter, my thoughts and prayers will be with the Johnson family this weekend."

A support group and mourners will gather Saturday in Detroit at the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church at 6100 14th Street at 10 a.m.

Rev. Charles E. Williams II said "One year later and no answers, is unacceptable. We are coming together to support the family with finances, but we are preparing for action and mobilization."

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