On a cloudy and mild autumn afternoon in Macon, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia--Michael Moore-- announced at an October 31 press conference that his office will conduct a formal investigation into the death of Lowndes County High student Kendrick Johnson.
On January 11, 2013, the 17 year-old Johnson was found dead inside one of twenty-one gym mats at the school's Old Gymnasium.
Ken and Jackie Johnson have dismissed claims that their son's death was an accident by local authorities led by Chris Prine of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office based in Valdosta.
According to a January 15 account from the Valdosta Daily Times, the following was reported:
(Lowndes County) ..."Sheriff’s and GBI investigators initially worked the scene as a suspected homicide. The sheriff’s office and Lowndes County School System issued a statement of suspecting no foul play by Friday night...."
In essence, a determination was made on the same day Kendrick Johnson was found dead via a statement through the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department--led by Chris Prine-- that no foul play was suspected.
If there was no foul play, then why wasn't Johnson's body released to the next of kin within 24 hours, according to state law?
Why was the county coroner not notified immediately?
These state laws were ignored, but there is more.
On a side note, there are no medical examiners in South Georgia, so how did Prine and other investigators from the Thomasville-GBI office along with the folks at the (non-GBI) Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab come to the conclusion the mysterious death was an accident?
Prior to the January 14 autopsy, Johnson's body stayed in Valdosta for three days at the Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab.
Why? Who authorized this?
Moore, the U.S. Attorney based in Macon, had announced in late May that his office was gathering information.
Five months later, Moore says there is sufficient evidence to open a federal investigation.
At the press conference, Moore explains:
"I will follow the facts wherever they lead. My objective is to discover the truth," Moore said.