‘We know the truth is in those boxes’: Parents of Kendrick Johnson grateful sheriff reopened case

ATLANTA — The parents of a 17-year-old found dead inside a Georgia high school hope the reopening of the old case will bring them new answers.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas that he has 17 boxes full of files in the Kendrick Johnson death investigation.

The boxes come from a now closed federal investigation. Paulk said he will personally look through them all as he reopens the case.

“I want to know the truth. I want the other people to know the truth,” Paulk said. “Until you look at everything that everyone has done, I can’t look you in the eye and say I know the truth.”

Thomas also caught up with Johnson’s parents Tuesday as they made a quick stop in Atlanta. Jaqueline Johnson, Kendrick’s mother, told Thomas that the announcement the sheriff was reopening the 8-year-old case into her son’s death was “a shocker,” but she’s glad.

“It woke up wounds that have been trying to seal up, not heal, but seal up. It’s like it reopened them all over again,” mother Jaqueline Johnson said.


Her 17-year-old son died in January 2013. His body found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat with a shoe nearby. Authorities ruled it an accident, but his parents have never accepted that.

“One thing they did tell us is the shoe was planted there,” Jaqueline Johnson said.

The family believes evidence of a murder and a coverup involving corruption is inside the boxes now in the hands of the Lowndes County Sheriff.

“We were told a lot of things by the Department of Justice and it’s got to be in those boxes,” father Kenneth Johnson said.

Local authorities at first ruled Kendrick’s death an accident, but a second private autopsy found blunt force trauma to the teen’s neck.

“We know the truth is in those boxes and we know somethings the DOJ told us was there in those boxes. We just want the truth to come out,” Kenneth Johnson said.

Activist Marcus Coleman has helped the family all along and pushed for the new investigation.

“We feel like those 17 boxes are symbolic. Kendrick had only 17 short years on this earth,” Coleman said. “We feel like we are just now in an era, or a stage of connecting the dots.”

The sheriff said his new look at the case could take up to six months.