Have you heard about the case of Kendrick Johnson? The Georgia teen went missing in early 2013 and then was found dead inside his high school, wrapped in a wrestling mat. Investigators determined his death was accidental, that he fell head first while reaching for a shoe and somehow became trapped inside the mat, then asphyxiated. But his parents and quite a few other people suspect that there’s more to the case, especially considering that a second autopsy recently revealed several of his organs had been replaced with newspaper.
Kendrick’s parents allege that he was murdered. A private pathologist they hired determined his death was caused by blunt force trauma to the neck. After exhuming his body for a second autopsy, the family and medical examiners realized that a few of his organs were missing. After an investigation, Georgia state officials say the funeral home that replaced Kendrick’s organs with rolled up newspaper did not break any laws. Apparently, replacing missing organs with materials like cotton, newspaper, or sawdust is standard practice. Not “best practice,” according to the Georgia Board of Funeral Service, but not illegal. Wow. Seriously? I had no idea.
It’s not 100% clear to me whether the organs were removed for the previous autopsy (and then…misplaced?) or whether the replacement of organs with newspaper is somehow connected to the possible foul play in this case. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations say the organs were returned to the body after the first autopsy, but the attorney for the funeral home said the organs were missing when the home first received the body and that they never received the organs from the coroner.
Either way, I think that replacing any dead person’s organs with newspaper is not only strange, but disrespectful. Even if it’s not an unusual practice, isn’t there a respectful way to let families know that organs were missing? Especially in a case like this, when a seemingly healthy teenager died under suspicious circumstances? I feel like it might have been courteous to let Kendrick’s parents know that last night’s classifieds were being put inside of his body before he went into the ground. Or that, you know, his body was missing several of its organs.
Kendrick’s parents have hired Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who also represents Trayvon Martin‘s parents, and have participated in several rallies to bring attention to Kendrick’s case. US attorney Michael Moore, launched an investigation into his death last October and had said he will get the FBI involved if it’s deemed necessary. I don’t know enough the facts of the case to say for sure, but with a body stuffed full of newspapers, video footage that’s missing several crucial hours and the results of that second autopsy, I hope that the FBI does get involved. Something’s definitely fishy here.