Tragedy strikes more often than we may like to acknowledge it. It comes for everyone, in small and significant amounts. Some of the most harrowing tragedies to look over are ones that happen to the youth.

Kids who are still growing, still learning, still, approach adulthood being cut down in their primes for seemingly unknown reasons.

Some are unhappy accidents, unfortunate reminders that no matter how protective a parent is, the world may not respect them.

Some are more direct; hormonal feuds went out of control that leads to death at the similarly young hands.

Some tragedies are mysteries. The death of Kendrick Johnson shook the state of Georgia back in 2013. It was an untimely loss of a boy with so much promise to fulfill.

But his parents and friends weren’t so convinced that the matter should be shuttered. The case was recently reopened. Let’s see why.

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10 /10 Go Vikings

Kendrick was the youngest of his four other siblings, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, from Valdosta, Georgia. It was a quiet and small town with just over 50,000 residents.

He played on the high school basketball team, The Vikings, and was a well-liked and popular kid in his class.

There was no immediately known or investigated drama among students that led to his mysterious and tragic death.


9 /10 After School Accident

Kendrick failed to return home on January 10th of 2013. He was well-liked enough that his parents didn’t dread their son’s failure to yield.

He had many friends and plenty to do with them after school. It wasn’t until the next day when students assembled in the gym for their daily routines when Kendrick was found.

His body was stuck inside a rolled-up gym mat with his head toward the ground. He had been stuck there all night and suffocated to death.

8 /10 Need To Move On

It was a gruesome fate and preventable, but not entirely tragic. At that point, it was ruled as an accident.

Other students attested to the practice of hiding their gym shoes, which were meant to be separate from the shoes they wore to and from their classes, in the gym mats was pretty standard.

One boy shared a pair of shoes with Kendrick, and they would hide them inside the gym mats.

His death was ruled as a result of trying to retrieve them before heading home and becoming immobilized.


7 /10 Parental Intuition

This explanation from the sheriff’s department didn’t fly with Kendrick’s parents. The Johnson’s smelled something foul afoot and demanded an additional investigation to be mounted.

Even the sheriff at the time admitted that it was very unusual and not at all the norm, even for accidental deaths.

The parents began to assert a conspiracy was afoot and pressed for a second autopsy, which required exhuming his body for further study in June of that year.


6 /10 The Plot Thickens

Upon a second, more thorough, examination it was revealed that Kendrick suffered blunt force trauma to the side of his neck that was sufficient enough to register as a mortal wound.

He was killed in a throttling fight or a sizeable blow and then apparently hidden by his assailants.

The Johnson’s asserted this claim against two boys in particular who Kendrick may have known.

Their claims were never substantiated by proper evidence, however, as some essential clues were missing.

5 /10 Convenient Gaps

Security surveillance cameras captured Kendrick’s last known moments as he headed for the gym. After that, he never came back out.

Some inconsistencies with the footage were highlighted, such as the significantly long gaps of time where nothing was recorded, even over the entrance where people could have come in or left from, and the cameras themselves weren’t synched up to each other, creating 20 minute or more sequences where the motion-capture didn’t trigger at all.

4 /10 Higher Powers

The two boys accused by the Johnsons had, apparently, through conjecture, had it in for Kendrick and had fought before, albeit verbally.

This was never backed up beyond anecdote, which was unacceptable in a court of law, and the boys were never charged or tried. Additionally, those boys were both the sons of an FBI agent.

This did not dissuade the Johnsons from continuing their case, but they did lose their initial battles to the sum of nearly $300,000 to almost 38 people they accused of the network of foul play.


3 /10 Legal Complications

The case became so proliferated and high profile that the Department of Justice offered to step in and mitigate the damages caused by the runaway claims and accusations.

The Johnsons asserted that Kendrick was targeted and his killers were known, that there was terrible history between their son and their key suspects as recorded in school documents from fights that happened years ago.

They demanded $100 million for the loss of their son against multiple targets. And, of course, counter-suits followed.

2 /10 Eight Years Out

As of March 10th, 2021, the case has been reopened. This is not because the current sheriff of Lowndes County believes that there is an angle of homicide that needs to be investigated.

It is, instead, a matter of clarification between the Johnsons and the number of parties they were found in the wrong of accusing, including the school board, the school itself, and the Department of Justice.

They continue to speak out against the death of their son as a murder, but at a legal standpoint, have not been given the ability to prove so beyond a reasonable doubt.

1 /10 Unknown Unknowns

Several inconsistencies still linger in the case, either due to poor property management in the security cameras or inadequate assessment on the various Judges who have moved the case along.

The fact is an FBI agent’s sons were implicated in wrongful death, and that’s when everything started to fall apart for the parents of the deceased.

It’s not hard to reason with them that things are being covered up…

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