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3rd Autopsy Finds Evidence of Foul Play in Gym Mat Death

Kendrick Johnson's family is trying to get case re-opened
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2018 7:00 AM CST
Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson stand next to a banner on their SUV showing their late son, Kendrick Johnson, on Dec. 13, 2013, in Valdosta, Ga.   (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

(Newser) – A third autopsy has been done in the strange case of a teen found dead in a rolled-up gym mat in January 2013, and this one found evidence of foul play. Kendrick Johnson's parents have had two of the three autopsies done, as they continue to insist the 17-year-old's death was no accident, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Georgia sophomore was found upside down in the mat in his high school's gym; state and local investigators believe he got stuck inside while reaching for a pair of sneakers. The state medical examiner's office found that he died of positional asphyxia, meaning that he suffocated due to the position he was trapped in. The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office classified his death as accidental, and Kenneth and Jackie Johnson have been fighting that finding ever since; they have had their son's body exhumed twice, per the Valdosta Daily Times.

The two autopsies done at their request found the teen died of non-accidental blunt force trauma between his neck and abdomen. The Johnsons believe their son was killed by two sons of a local FBI agent, though video evidence showed they were not near the Lowndes High School gym at the time Johnson was last seen alive. A federal investigation was opened into the teen's death and ultimately found no evidence of foul play. Because of that, the Journal-Constitution says the impact of the latest autopsy will likely be "minimal." But WALB reports that in addition to the latest autopsy, the Johnsons submitted an affidavit to the local sheriff's office stating that they were told this year someone killed their son by hitting him in the chest with a 45-pound dumbbell and that surveillance footage was edited to remove more than an hour of video. They are hoping to get the case re-opened. (Click for more on the case.)

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