Family of Teen in Gym Death Sues Funeral Home

The parents of a Georgia teenager say the funeral home took out his organs and stuffed the body cavity with newspaper

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The parents of a Georgia teenager who died under disputed circumstances are suing the funeral home that handled his remains, saying the morticians improperly disposed of his organs and replaced them with newspaper

Kendrick Johnson was found dead, rolled up in a wrestling mat at his high school gym in October. The Lowndes County sheriff concluded that his death was an accident, and that the 17-year-old became stuck in the mat while reaching for a shoe.

But Johnson’s family, believing he had been killed, hired a private pathologist to examine the body. The pathologist discovered that the boy’s internal organs were missing and the cavities had been filled with newspaper.

What happened to his organs remains a mystery. They were removed during an autopsy by the state medical examiner, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said that the organs were returned to the body before it went to the funeral home.

Lawyers for the Johnson family filed a civil lawsuit against the Harrington Funeral Home of Valdosta, Georgia, accusing the funeral home of mishandling of a corpse. An attorney for the Harrington Funeral Home has said that the organs were missing before the body arrived at the facility.

The Georgia state medical examiner determined that Johnson died from “positional asphyxia,” where his body was trapped in a position that didn’t allow him to breathe, but the family’s private pathologist concluded that he died from a blow to the neck. The U.S. Attorney for middle Georgia is reviewing the case.

[AP]

16 comments
fafoxy11772
fafoxy11772

I've always believed from the very first say that this boy's body was found that he was murdered and there is a coverup by officials.  The fact that his organs are missing only makes a stronger case for this being a murder and coverup.  Unfortunately, I believe the coverup will succeed and the murderer will never be brought to justice.

JohnnerlynJohnson
JohnnerlynJohnson

Had this been my child, I would go to all lengths to seek the posthumous justice for a horrific act that should've never occurred.  No child - NO CHILD - should go to a reportedly safe and drug-free school in America and be found dead in a wrestling mat in a gym that he frequented to bring positive press to LCHS with his athletic prowess.  I do not agree, and neither do millions of others, that this young man's death was due to some freak accident. Neither do I agree that the investigation was meticulously handled.  Unless the meticulous nature comes in the cutting of the fingernails to the meat of his fingers, the stuffing of white sneakers in with the body because he certainly didn't say, "Go, go gadget arms!" and stick the sneakers in there himself.  I'd expect any lucid thinker to exhaust all avenues towards restorative justice. Keep fighting, Johnson Family.  God has brought you this far because of your undying faith in Him. As long as you keep having the faith, He will never leave nor forsake you!

RodneyVero
RodneyVero

It's all about the money for this family.  They were screwed out of a lawsuit in the first place due to the "accidental" ruling.  Who cares whether/not a loved one, that's DEAD (hello?) is buried with/without internal organs?  Are those organs 'needed' by the body for some reason as it rots in the ground?  Would I care if this happened to a loved one?  Why would I?  What does that DEAD loved one need with organs?  Maybe they were given to ALIVE peeps who needed them to stay alive?  Would I then feel a need to SUE for something that's not needed anyway?  NO!!  I'd be happy that my loved one is still benefiting society and leave it at that!!  This is nothing more than an attempt to win the "Poor Man's Lottery".

dickg1968
dickg1968

Do we know what the independent pathologists credentials or work history are?

pageup4943
pageup4943

It would seam that yet another attemp by some black loving parents too discovery some blood money.

LorraineNation
LorraineNation

@RodneyVero  the child was murdered. The organs could show he was killed by blunt force trauma. Please educate yourself. 

woodlandcreature
woodlandcreature

@RodneyVero What a vile cold black hearted thing to say about this young man and his family. Can you even wrap your head around the unimaginable suffering they must be experiencing? It's clear there's been a coverup on many levels and by many agencies--school, police and funeral home, their son was murdered, they got nothing but a run around over and over again and now you're beating on them. Your stupid argument about who needs organs is so insane I feel sorry for you. They find their child stuffed with newspaper and somehow you've made rationalizations for their loss and outrage. Does it even occur to you that if someone sold his organs that this would be hugely illegal and immoral? How would you know that someone has benefited or not with his organs? How do you know how they were used/abused at all?



To blame this family after all they've gone through and turn the 'victims' into perpetrators is mean to a degree I cannot understand. I feel tremendous sadness for this family, but on another level I feel more for you, because you strike me as someone that lacks a soul and I can't see the remedy for this.

Trimixer
Trimixer

@pageup4943  Dude you are a troglodyte, what does being black have to do with wanted to find out what really happened to your kid?

joefelder1632
joefelder1632

Your an ass, it that was your child or sibling in that casket missing body you wouldn't be saying that ass hole

JaimeAndresPretell
JaimeAndresPretell

@LorraineNation @RodneyVero  Educate yourself. Blunt force trauma would leave marks in the skin and subcutaneous hemorrhaging. Except for the new autopsy's claim of a blow to the jaw/neck area, no other body blows were described. Thus, internal organs would not be compromised by blow. The internal organs were discarded due to advanced decomposition.  

JimmyLee
JimmyLee

@joefelder1632  Im a bit confused as the methods. If im understanding correctly the State medical examiner stated he died from asphyxiation to to compression. A pathologist hired by the family states a blow to the back of the neck. Im pretty sure even the state medical examiner and the coroner can tell if a blow to the back of the neck was cause of death through cerebral hemorrhaging, damage to the spine or skull. If they are claiming compression asphyxiation then it would likely be because no other evidence was found to suggest otherwise and the victims blood had low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide. There would also be cyanosis of the skin a purple tinted coloring to the skin. These are all fairly obvious to detect. I don't see any reason for the state medical examiner to lie. And its very doubtful that any trained professional can miss this.  On top of this accusation now we have the accusation of the mishandling of organs.


All the evidence from witnesses literally collaborate the findings of the state medical examiner and the GBI. If you read the whole story of the events it does compound the findings pretty well. I would have to say either distraught parents looking for their own personal closure by attacking or suing involved party's. Or quite possibly money grubbers trying to profit off their kids accidental death. It can easily go both ways. Either way I would sue the school for accidental death because they had mats rolled up like that within easy access to kids and it caused a death. Even if they were aware of the danger or not they are responsible for the well being of the children in their facilities.

JaimeAndresPretell
JaimeAndresPretell

@JimmyLee @joefelder1632  Compression asphyxiation would also explain the lack of fluid in the lungs that made the second coroner dispute the positional asphyxia. While one would be asphyxiation due to his mouth and nose being covered, the other would be his inability to expand his lungs if he got wedged in. I am curious about the bruising in the neck and jaw area, but The karate chop stopping the heart claim seems a bit far fetched. He may have bruised himself in a prior event. Maybe even a fight, without that fight being the cause of death per se. 

LorraineNation
LorraineNation

@JimmyLee @joefelder1632  LMAO, you really believe it was an accident?  He was found with his shoes on top of his feet. How did that happen if he went in to get his shoes which the cover up is trying to save. 

tdrroc
tdrroc

@JimmyLee  the story isn't about the murder.  It's about the fact that when an independent pathologist went to examine the body he discovered that the organs were missing.  I'd be pissed too if this happened without family permission... and yes, I'd seek some kind of redress.  More to prevent it from happening again than to make a buck.


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