Valdosta sheriff reopens case of teenager found dead in gym mat

Valdosta sheriff, Ashley Paulk, says he’s reopened an investigation into the 2013 death of a teenager whose body was found inside a rolled-up gym mat at his high school.

17-year-old Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta, Georgia, did not come home from school on the night of January 11th, 2013. Kendrick's parents called the police. The next morning, students at Lowndes High School found Kendrick's body headfirst inside a rolled up heavy gym mat in the gymnasium.

After an investigation, the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office came to the conclusion that the death was an accident reporting that Kendrick suffocated after getting stuck in the mat while trying to retrieve a shoe that fell inside.

Kendrick's parents believed that their son had been murdered. His parents pleaded for years to have their son's case re-examined. Lowndes County Sheriff announced Wednesday that he is personally leading a new examination of the death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta after the U.S. Justice Department gave the sheriff’s office 17 boxes of evidence it collected in its own investigation that ended in 2016.

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