Kendrick Johnson family wants homicide investigation

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - By Lydia Jennings-

Relatives of Kendrick Johnson are now asking for a new homicide investigation into his death.

For 23 weeks now Kendrick Johnson's family has sat on this corner holding signs, and demanding answers. The 17-year-old was found dead in a rolled up wrestling mat in the old Lowndes High gym in January. The GBI ruled his death an accident. Investigators believe he fell inside the mat as he was retrieving an article of clothing and got stuck inside. But the family believes he was murdered.

"We always believed from the start that it wasn't an accident," said his Grandmother, Barbara English.

And in May, a judge granted them permission to exhume the body. They hired Florida forensic pathologist William Anderson to conduct a second autopsy. Anderson says his findings are not consistent with the GBI's original death ruling, positional asphyxia. He says Johnson died by "unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt-force trauma." He tells WALB a homicide investigation needs to be opened because Johnson's injuries appear to be inflicted by another.

For the family this report confirms their suspicions all along. "I've always felt like something in that gym happened, somebody knows something," said Johnson's Aunt, Lydia Tooley-Whitlock.

"It's just hard, we need answers. If anybody has any answers please come forward and say something. Don't let this case slip away, because you never know it could be your child," said Aunt, Tesha Tooley.

Now it's up to federal and state authorities to decide if they want to review the case and open up an investigation.

GBI officials tell us they stand by their original autopsy report.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore says he is monitoring the situation but has not opened up an investigation.

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