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Georgia sheriff investigates death of high school student found in wrestling mat


Kendrick Johnson,17, was found dead inside his high school's gym. (FAMILY PHOTO)

Local authorities are investigating the death of a 17-year-old high school student whose body was found Friday morning inside his school's gym in an inverted position and wrapped inside a wrestling mat.

"It's an open investigation," Lt. Stryde Jones from the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office said. "We are interviewing students and reviewing school security cameras."

Initial reports vary on how Kendrick Johnson's body got trapped inside the mat. A preliminary autopsy showed there were no signs of struggle, and early theories said he may have been attempting to retrieve a shoe that fell into the mat.

But the unusual nature of his death led to some speculation inside the community that their may have been foul play involved. 

Kenneth Johnson, the teen's father, told WALB he believes his son was murdered.

"I want to express how did my son go missing during school hours in broad daylight? We know our son was murdered while he was at Lowndes High School. We do know that," Johnson told the station.

Anastasia Roe, the teen's aunt, told her nephew was a good student. But she said last year he got into an altercation with a fellow student and was suspended this season for playing football. The Lowndes County School Board was unable to confirm Johnson's suspension.

Jones, from the sheriff's office, said he is aware of an altercation and his office has been following potential leads.

The teen's father reported his son missing late Thursday night and his body was discovered Friday morning. The school was placed on lockdown after the discovery, reported.

"How can you go on when you have a beloved child who wakes up everybody in the house and makes a laugh out of everything, how can you go on? It's hard," Johnson told the station.

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