Saturday, January 11, 2014
Kendrick Johnson’s body was discovered in a rolled-up mat in the Old Gym at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia one year ago today. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office concluded that he died accidentally in an upside down position stuck inside a rolled-up gym mat while attempting to retrieve an athletic shoe. I do not agree with their conclusion.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office failed to conduct a competent professional investigation. They should have identified, contacted and separately interviewed all potential witnesses within 24 hours after Kendrick’s body was discovered. This is a basic requirement that every homicide investigator knows because witnesses absolutely must be interviewed while their memories are fresh before they become polluted by information obtained from the media or conversations with others.
There are no exceptions to this rule unless a witness cannot be located.
The first responders and the paramedic who noticed bruising on Kendrick’s jaw and considered the gym to be a crime scene should have been interviewed as soon as possible, but they were not interviewed until April 17 and 18, more than 3 months after Kendrick’s body was discovered. The janitors who cleaned the gym after the police finished their investigation at the scene were not contacted and interviewed until April 26th.
CNN examined the 522-page police file and found that investigators spoke to 111 people. Eighteen of those interviews occurred the day Johnson’s body was found, and another 15 people were interviewed later that month. Investigators then spoke to five more people in February and March before conducting interviews with 72 people in April, about the time media coverage of Johnson’s death gained momentum. One person was interviewed in May, according to the investigative file.
I can only imagine how frustrated and disgusted the FBI must be right now with the way the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. They certainly should have known better and their failure to carry out their responsibilities in a competent and professional manner suggests at best incompetence and at worst participation in a conspiracy to cover-up a homicide.
This is our 847th post in 26 months.
We received one donation yesterday for $25 for which we are very grateful, but we had 807 visitors to the site and 1,459 page views. This sort of response to requests for donations is extremely frustrating and depressing. I realize it’s easy to assume others will step in and contribute, but that type of thinking doesn’t work when everyone does it. We’re not trying to get rich here, but this just isn’t working out for us.