Feds to investigate Kendrick Johnson case

NEED TO KNOW
  • U.S. prosecutor: We will seek to find cause of south Georgia teen's January death
  • Johnson was found dead in rolled-up gym mat
  • Parents: 'The truth is all we ever wanted'
Feds to investigate Kendrick Johnson case

What happened to Kendrick Johnson?

Surveillance video of Kendrick Johnson in school gym prior to his death

Kendrick Johnson case: Shocking evidence photos

Kendrick Johnson case: Shocking evidence photos

Kendrick Johnson's parents and their attorneys react to the federal investigation tonight on Nancy Grace -- 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on HLN.

The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announced Thursday that the Department of Justice will open a federal investigation into the mysterious death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson. 

"A sufficient basis exists for a formal review of the facts," Michael Moore said at a midday press conference. "I will follow the facts where they lead. My objective is to discover the truth." Moore also appealed directly to the public, asking "anyone who has any factual and specific information" to come forward.

Johnson's family has also been searching for answers ever since their son's body was discovered January 11 in a rolled up gym mat in his high school gymnasium.

Read more: Kendrick Johnson's parents demand answers

A coroner initially ruled Johnson's death an accident -- saying the teen suffocated while reaching for a shoe inside the mat -- but his parents, Jacquelyn and Kenneth Johnson, have continued to seek justice for their son, who they believe was murdered.

To that end, they had their son’s body exhumed and a second autopsy performed. The report from that autopsy stated Johnson sustained “non-accidental, blunt force trauma” and injuries to his face, opening the door to the possibility of foul play.

The autopsy also revealed that Johnson’s heart, brain, liver and lungs were missing and his body had been stuffed with newspaper -- raising even more questions. Chevene King, one of the Johnson family attorneys, said they would like an examination into the location of Johnson's organs, clothing and fingernails. "Things that would lead an investigator to who would take a young man's life," said King.

Johnson’s parents have consistently said they just want to know what happened to their son. Sitting with King and their other attorney, Benjamin Crump, the Johnsons said they were overjoyed with Thursday's announcement.

"We're happy with the decision," said Kenneth Johnson. "We want a thorough investigation to figure out what happened." Johnson's father stressed that they have no idea who could have hurt their son and said that the "truth is all we ever wanted."

Crump said they welcome the investigation and called the case "a murder mystery we have to solve."

On Wednesday, a Lowndes County judge ruled that surveillance images, photos and investigative files be released to Johnson’s parents and the media. Reacting to the news, Johnson's father said, "We are happy to hear we are one step closer to the truth." The video, which has been obtained by HLN, shows Johnson walking through the school halls and gymnasium.

Jacquelyn Johnson -- quiet, but determined to seek justice for her son -- said simply, "we're just waiting on the truth."

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