Georgia family says son's death was foul play

NEED TO KNOW
  • 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson was found dead in high school gym
  • Investigators say it was accident, family says it believes it was murder

Tonight, the parents of Kendrick Johnson will join HLN's Evening Express to talk about the death of their son, and why they feel investigators are covering up evidence in his case.

The 17-year-old died in January of this year. He was found wrapped in a gym mat at his high school in Valdosta, Georgia. Investigators say he suffocated when he dove into the mat to retrieve one of his shoes that had ended up in it.  His body was found many hours after his death, leading to some decomposition.

See the crime scene in the evidence gallery

His parents from the beginning felt the story didn't add up, and asked for an independent autopsy. They say those results say their son died from "non-accidental blunt force trauma."  The body was found with a pool of blood at the bottom of the mat; investigators say that it was the decomposition that led to bleeding after his death.

Other evidence, like possible blood stains on the wall of the gym, a shoe found near the body (the owner of the shoe was never identified) and a shirt with what could have been blood on it were also found near the scene, but dismissed in the initial investigation. Investigators say the DNA in the blood stains did not belong to Johnson, but they did not find out whose it was. 

The family felt so strongly that they needed a second opinion that they had the body of their son exhumed for a second autopsy. They got a surprise when they found that Johnson's internal organs had been replaced with newspaper.

So was this just a tragic accident? Foul play muddied by an incomplete investigation? Or something else?

HLN's Ryan Smith and Lynn Berry will talked with the Johnson family and their attorneys about the case.

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