What Happened To Kendrick Johnson?

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Rewind: A look back at stories that the public may have forgotten about

Kendrick Johnson was a 17 year old high school student at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. It was more than three years ago on January 11, 2013 when Kendrick was found dead inside of a rolled up gym mat. He was found in an upside-down position (headfirst in the gym mat), and with blood in the vicinity. After a four month long investigation by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office it was revealed that the death was an accident. An autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations identified that Kendrick had died from positional asphyxia.


However, many theories and potential inconsistencies within the case have pointed at a conclusion that could be anything but an accident. Kendrick’s parents, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson, have long maintained that Kendrick was killed.


The high school (from this point on will be referred to as LHS) was composed of two gymnasiums. A ‘new’ gym and an ‘old’ gym. The older gymnasium was used as a storage facility. It was used to store old gym mats (vertically) and it was also a place for students to store their belongings. The mats (standing) were about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Many students would use these vertical gym mats as storage lockers instead of paying for the school lockers.


Official reports say that Kendrick, who was trying to retrieve a pair of shoes that he shared with a friend, got stuck in the gym mat and died of asphyxiation. This official response was regarded as the cause of death. Kendrick simply went in headfirst to retrieve the shoes and then got stuck. This was the cause of his shoe falling off his body as well as the blood pooling to his head (warning: pictures are graphic!) It wasn’t until more than a day later, after his mother had reported him missing, did a group of girls find Kendrick’s body.


Two autopsies were performed with the first one stating that there was no indication of foul play and that Kendrick had died from asphyxiation whereas the second autopsy (which was conducted under the pressure of the Johnson family) revealed a death that was caused by ‘blunt force.’ (This was due to a cut on the neck of Kendrick’s body.)


The Johnson’s then alleged that the Bell brothers (who also went to LHS) were responsible for the death of their son. The Johnson family filed a 100 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 where they named Brian and Branden Bell as well as their former FBI agent father, Rick Bell in the suit. The Johnson family then later named another additional 39 suspects into the case.

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Later, all those individuals would ask a judge to have the Johnson family pay for their attorney fees and court related costs after the case was dropped. The case was repackaged and is in court once again.

It was reported that a year before Kendrick’s death the two students, Brian and Kendrick, got into a physical altercation while on a bus ride back from a lost football game. It was then later alleged that the two boys reconciled and then even volunteered to work together on a project.

Alibis from the Bell brothers show that they were not present during the time of Kendrick’s death. Later video footage that was released from the school show Kendrick walking into the gym by himself and then leaving. (The footage does appear to be altered and edited.)

Nonetheless, it was in February of 2015 when FSU decided to rescind their football scholarship to Brian Bell after repeated requests from Johnsons’ supporters. (Brian later went to Akron, Ohio for school.)

An investigation by the Department of Justice in October of 2013 confirmed the County Sheriff’s original conclusion: that Kendrick died from positional asphyxia and that his death was just a freak accident.

Despite the inconsistencies in both the Johnson’s testimonies as well as in the video footage one must wonder where the truthful middle ground lies. Are the grieving parents simply unable to come to terms with a freak accident or is there a vast conspiracy behind the scenes that involves federal agents, local enforcement and also educational institutions?


What Happened To Kenneka Jenkins?

Rewind: A look back at stories that the public may have forgotten about


Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a Chicago hotel freezer more than a month ago and as of today (October 25) there is still so much mystery, controversy and anger surrounding this young girl’s death. The 19 year old was found dead inside of a walk-in freezer more than 24 hours after she was reported missing.


There has only been more controversies surrounding this case since the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare hotel refused to look through surveillance footage when Tereasa Martin, Kenneka’s mother, told hotel staff that her daughter was last seen on the ninth floor of their hotel. And then things were further complicated when social media footage showed Kenneka on a live stream with some of her friends and theories began circulating of a potential set up. Detectives then later determined that the hotel room was rented by a man and a woman with a fraudulent credit card.

The Rosemont detectives have stated that those individuals are affiliated with a gang and that the party on the ninth floor had multiple gang members present. There were allegedly more than 30 people present at the hotel.

Recently, surveillance footage from the Chicago hotel shows Kenneka stumbling along the hallways and in the kitchen but there is no footage of the exact moment that Kenneka walks into the industrial-size freezer. Furthermore, the motion activated camera in the kitchen does not show her walking into the freezer.


An autopsy revealed that Kenneka had a blood alcohol limit of 112 mg/dL (0.08 mg/dL is the legal limit) which is about 50 per cent higher than the legal limit. A drug known as Topiramate was also found in her system. It was reported that the dosage was in the ‘therapeutic’ range. Her family says that she was not prescribed to this drug.

The autopsy stated that the death was an accident and that Jenkins died of hypothermia. The autopsy speculates that the alcohol as well as the drugs in her system only sped up the onset of hypothermia.

The medical examiner’s note revealed that the walk in freezer was capable of reaching temperatures as low as 8 degrees Celsius. On police dispatch tapes, an officer could be heard saying that Jenkins’ body was ‘frozen solid.’


The autopsy report stated that Kenneka suffered a type of lesion, mucosal erosions, that is indicative of hypothermia. Furthermore, there was an abrasion on her right ankle and her brain was also swollen, which the autopsy states does not reveal a specific cause of death.


The Rosemont Police Department formally closed the case saying that there is no indication of foul play and has recently released crime scene photos showing how Kenneka was found.

According to NBC New York, the photographs show Kenneka’s body in a corner by the entrance of the door. Her head is tucked away in a corner and with one shoe off. She was found wearing the same jeans and jean jacket that she had on during the livestream as well as on surveillance camera. According to a police report, the shirt under her jacket was ‘pulled up exposing her breasts.’


In a four page press release, the Rosemont Police Chief, Donald Stephens III, said: ‘At this time, the Rosemont Public Safety Department has closed the death investigation of Kenneka Jenkins and has classified this incident as an accidental death. There is no evidence that indicates any other conclusion.’

The Jenkins family is rightfully angry and state that these photos raise more questions than answers. Their lawyer, Larry Rogers Jr. said in a statement: ‘Frankly, [the] photos depicting how [Jenkins] was found raise more questions about what happened to [her] than they answer. The pictures are graphic and disturbing images and inexplicably show portions of [her] body exposed.’


Kenneka’s mother, Theresa Martin, is rightfully angered at this conclusion and is upset at the hotel worker’s lack of urgency. Furthermore, the Jenkins family has not been given the full surveillance footage and has only seen ‘snippets.’ Tereasa has doubts about the validity of the police’s conclusion on her daughter’s death and says that if Kenneka was drunk she wouldn’t have been able to open the freezer doors.

‘Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open.’

As theories and controversies populate social media, one must wonder why there has been such a significant lack of transparency in a case of an ‘accidental death.’