December 12th, 2013
11:25 AM ET

Kendrick Johnson Family Holds Rally After Filing Complaint About Missing Organs

The parents of Kendrick Johnson, whose death this year created a mystery that has gripped a South Georgia town, held a rally at the state Capitol on Wednesday, a day after filing a complaint with the state about the handling of their son's body.

The "Who Killed K.J." rally had several scheduled speakers, according to a news release from the Johnson family, but the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Joseph Lowery - both of whom were slated to address the demonstrators, the family said - never spoke. That didn't stop more than 100 protesters from assembling at the Capitol before noon.

Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at his high school in Valdosta, Georgia, on January 11. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted an autopsy and ruled the death accidental, but his family questioned the ruling and had his body exhumed for a second autopsy.

At the second autopsy, it was discovered that his organs were missing and his body cavity was filled with newspapers, contrary to industry practice.

The family's complaint, filed Tuesday with the Georgia Board of Funeral Service, a division of the secretary of state's office, alleges that Harrington Funeral Home mishandled Johnson's body and specifically accuses director Antonio Harrington of helping obscure the teen's cause of death.

However, the funeral home's attorney, Roy Copeland, said in an October letter to CNN that coroner Bill Watson has already stated that "the accusations and innuendo regarding Mr. Harrington's involvement in the disposition of young Mr. Johnson's internal organs are baseless."

According to "The Principles and Practices of Embalming," a sentence of which was included in an October letter Copeland sent to CNN, when the organs have been removed in an autopsy, the person handling the body should dry the cavity, "dusting it with hardening compound or embalming powder and then filling it with dry, clean sawdust or cotton mixed with a small quantity of hardening compound or embalming powder."

Copeland conceded at a November interview that newspaper was not listed, but he added, "nor is it precluded as one type of foreign substance that may be introduced into a body for purposes of building it up for public display."

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Avonte Oquendo

    "Who Killed KJ"? More like Who Killed RayJ...'s career!?! AMIRITE! That dude fell off HARD. That "If I had one wishhhh" sheeettttt ain't cutting it, my ninja. You gon have to come a lil harder if you don't want to end up living in Brandy's attic fo-eva!

    December 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply

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