Sheriff reopens investigation into death of Kendrick Johnson, found dead inside gym mat

ATLANTA — The Lowndes County sheriff said he is reopening the case of a South Georgia teenager found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat.

Sheriff Ashley Paulk confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that he reopened the case into the death of Kendrick Johnson after federal investigators gave him documents requested in the case from two years ago.

Johnson’s body was found in January 2013, rolled up in a gym mat inside the Lowndes County High School gym.

That following May, his death was ruled an accident.


Paulk said he requested documents from the federal investigation into Kendrick’s death in April 2019, but was told at the time he could not have them. That changed this week.

With help and urging from the Johnson family, a federal judge finally released the documents and evidence in the case. Paulk said there were approximately 17 boxes of documents, including computer towers and computer drives.

Paulk met with the Johnson family on Friday to let them know the case would be reopened. The sheriff said he would be interviewing people and meeting with other law enforcement agencies to see if anything was missed or incorrectly reported and was unsure how long that would take.

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