Email sparks questions about Kendrick Johnson case

By Tim Pulliam, General assignment reporter, tpulliam@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 20 2014 10:21:41 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 20 2014 11:39:40 PM EDT

VIDEO: An anonymous e-mail to the sheriff’s department claims reports of a confession in the death of Valdosta teen Kendrick Johnson. Investigators want to examine the e-mail, which claims Kendrick Johnson’s former classmate killed him. Johnson’s body was found in a rolled-up mat in the Lowndes County High School gym. Investigators with the sheriff's office ruled his death accidental, saying that Johnson climbed into the center of the gym mat to reach for a shoe and got stuck.

VALDOSTA, Ga. -

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office told Channel 4 Thursday they received an anonymous email almost two months ago that they turned over to federal authorities.

The Sheriff's Office said there's really nothing to the anonymous email, but the document is raising questions again about how 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson died.

There are still a lot of questions and speculation in the Valdosta community, questions about how Johnson died and whether his death was accidental or at the hands of someone else.

The Sheriff's Office said Johnson's death was an accident, but a second autopsy the Johnson family paid for concluded that Kendrick's death was non-accidental, blunt-force trauma, fueling various opinions within the community.

The anonymous email that was handed over to federal investigators is also sparking more talk about the case.

RELATED: Kendrick Johnson death claim probed

"He was not murdered. I don't believe that," said Floyd Rose.

"If that were my child, I would want some answers, and this is not going to end," said Gregory Murray.

Lt. Stryde Jones with the Lowndes Sheriff's Office told Channel 4 that they've questioned seven teenagers in connection with the email, including the sender.

"We conducted an interview with the sender yesterday, as well as additional people, and what we have found out that none of these people know anything first hand. What they have done is picked up on various rumors that have been dispersed through the community," said Jones. "This particular person felt that it was important to make sure that at least law enforcement was aware of this information, and that was her reason for sending the tip. It was no malicious intent on her part. She just wanted to make sure the information was passed on to law enforcement."

Jones said Johnson's case is still closed until they get credible information that makes them change their position. The family's attorney told Channel 4 they will be happy to react to this anonymous email once they are able to get it a copy of it.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is still investigating the circumstances surrounding this case and has subpoenaed evidence. The Sheriff's Office gave them a copy of the anonymous email.

There will be a rally next month in Macon, Ga. at the federal courthouse. Pastors and civil rights groups will be there demanding justice.

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