New potential evidence could lead investigators to the killer of Kendrick Johnson, a Valdosta, Ga. teen whose body was found inside a rolled-up gym mat at his high school in 2013.
Fox 5 Atlanta reported on Friday (March 19) that Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk received an audio recording of someone confessing to the murder from Kendrick Johnson’s mother, Jackie Johnson.
"They had a recording that they actually purchased from someone who said that it would be valuable as far as saying who possibly had committed the crime and change their situation," Paulk said.
The sheriff announced on March 9 that he reopened the case after receiving documents from federal investigators that he requested two years ago.
Paulk said investigators are trying to authenticate the audio confession and determine its chain of custody.
"If it's a hoax, it's a very, very cruel hoax to do to Mrs. Johnson," he said.
Johnson, 17, was a sophomore at Lowndes County High School when he was found upside down in the mat. An investigation concluded that he died in an unfortunate mishap. Authorities determined that he accidentally slipped into the center of the mat and became trapped.
His parents were never satisfied with that explanation. They believed that classmates were behind his death and that police and school officials tried to hide what really happened.