The parents of a Georgia high school student who was found dead in a rolled-up gym mattress five years ago will exhume their son’s body for the second time in order to prove the 17-year-old’s death was not an accident.
The parents of Kendrick Johnson asked Valdosta City officials to exhume his body, which is set to occur on Friday. This will be the third autopsy on Johnson.
His mother, Jackie, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday that it breaks her heart to exhume her son’s body, but that it “has to be done.”
“Lord this again is one [of the] hard things to bear in life, [which is] the death of a child. On Friday June 22 my son Kendrick Kj Johnson body will be exhumed for the 2nd time to have a 3rd autopsy done, Lord to have to disturb his resting place breaks my heart into so many pieces, but it has to be done. [I] don’t know how much more I can take,” she wrote.
“The worst part is to have to bury him a 3rd time feels like another whole funeral and he’s leaving us again. KJ LIFE MATTERED!” she concluded.
Kendrick's dead body was found lodged inside the gym mat in Lowndes High School in January 2013. The first autopsy showed Johnson died of “accidental positional asphyxia." Authorities believe he got stuck in the mat while reaching for a pair of sneakers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
But for years, his parents remained convinced their son was murdered by an FBI agent’s two sons, Brian and Branden Bell. Video from the scene, however, showed the brothers were nowhere near the gym at the time of Johnson’s death.
The Justice Department concluded in 2016 there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Johnson was murdered.
A second autopsy the Johnsons paid for showed the teen’s cause of death as blunt force trauma.
The family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, told Fox News in November 2013 that the clothes Johnson was wearing were missing. He said the clothes were key to finding DNA evidence.
"He deserves a fair and proper investigation," Crump said. "[The family] absolutely think their son was murdered."