** UPDATE: The Lowndes County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office does not believe the anonymous e-mail tip claiming knowledge of a confession in the death of Kendrick Johnson is reliable. **
A Georgia Assistant District Attorney has ordered a communications company to hand over Internet records after investigators received an anonymous e-mail claiming that an ex-schoolmate confessed to killing Kendrick Johnson. The anonymous e-mail is dated January 27th. The sender does not say that they personally witnessed the confession or the death, but instead says that someone else told them that they were aware a confession was made in the 2013 death. The e-mail names at least 4 people.
Johnson’s body was found in a rolled-up gym mat in the Lowndes High School gym on January 11, 2013. Investigators ruled the death accidental and concluded that Johnson climbed in the mat to reach for a shoe and couldn’t get back out. The coroner’s office ruled the death accidental positional asphyxia.
Investigators have interviewed at least 2 of the people named in the e-mail. Both students said that they knew Kendrick Johnson, 17, but denied having any knowledge of a crime or being involved in his death. Johnson’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn, believe their son was beaten to death and then placed there to cover it up. They also believe that officials are also “covering up a murder.” Security cameras did not reveal what happened, either because they were broken or not pointing in the correct direction. An independent pathologist hired by the parents concluded that Johnson died from “unexplained apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma”.
The sheriff’s office closed its case officially on May 2nd. A federal investigation is currently underway.
“Although our case has been closed, if evidence comes forward, specifically testimony, then we’re open to hearing that and certainly we’ll act accordingly,” Lt. Stryde Jones, supervisor of the Lowndes Co. Sheriff’s Office’s Investigative Division, said.
Chief ADA Bradfield Shealy issued the subpoena to Mediacom Communications Corporation. They were ordered to provide a grand jury with subscriber information associated with the e-mail sent through the sheriff’s office’s website or submit the documentation to the district attorney or Lt. Jones.
Last week, several students from two local high schools were among those who appeared before a federal grand jury in Macon, Georgia, as part of the Department of Justice’s investigation.