A state board of Georgia said it was not illegal for a mortician to stuff the body of Kendrick Johnson with newspaper before his burial. Johnson, 17, was found dead last year in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes County High School in Valdosta, Georgia, a case full of sketchy details his family continues to investigate.
“Legislation or regulation does not address the practice or prohibit funeral professionals from filling a cavity with newspaper,” the Georgia Board of Funeral Service states in a letter to Kendrick’s mother. “Therefore, the practice while certainly not a ‘best practice,’ is not a violation of the law.”
The board added that it couldn’t determine if “the organs were transferred to the funeral (home) with the body.” This gives little details to his family who did not know he was stuffed with paper until his body was exhumed for a second autopsy in June.
They requested this private examination after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled Kendrick’s death a freak accident, an explanation they did not believe. The second report said the teenager died from trauma from a fatal blow that appeared to be non-accidental, a report that contrasts the explanation given by Georgia officials.
The troubling findings led the family to call for a new investigation in his death in October. In a complaint they accused Harrington Funeral Home of mishandling the body and the director of helping to cover up the teen’s cause of death. But the home says it never received the organs.
The board “may consider appropriate regulations concerning this issue in the near future,” it states.
Kendrick’s case continued to gain national attention in December 2013, when hundreds of people gathered at the Georgia state capitol to demand for an additional investigation”