Victor Blackwell is co-anchor on "New Day Weekend" with Christi Paul Saturdays and Sundays at 6 am ET.
When Victor isn't anchoring, he is digging for the next big investigative story. He has taken the lead on some of CNN's proudest work– most memorably the unsolved death of Georgia high schooler Kendrick Johnson.
But there's a lot more to Victor than news– here he shares 10 things you didn't know about him:
1. A restauranteur in Jacksonville, Fla. once featured a dessert named after me. It was a cinnamon-raisin bread pudding wrapped in a sweet tortilla and served with a rum dipping sauce
2. My first live concert was by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, It was a gift for my 10th birthday. Nancy Wilson was my second concert, for my 13th birthday. I asked for both
3. I don't drink coffee. My mug on the anchor desk is filled with room-temperature water
4. I collect neckties. It makes sense for the job. I own more than 300 of them
5. In 2007, I underwent laparoscopic gastric banding. I've lost more than 130 pounds
6. I've donated more than 100 suits, blazers, shirts, etc. to Suited for Success, a Florida- based non-profit that helps men re-enter the workforce after being released from prison
7. In 2001, I was a contestant on the college edition of Wheel of Fortune. I won $2, 300
8. Every year, my friends and I eat my birthday cake with our hands. It started as a goofy idea in college and it stuck
9. I collect and frame currency from every country I visit. I'm up to 20, now. The Kenyan Schilling is my favorite
10. I was a mall Easter bunny on spring break one year during high school. I earned $78 a day
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Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson still spend their days outside the Lowndes County Courthouse, standing vigil for their son, Kendrick, whose mysterious death a year ago poses many questions in their minds.
They simply want to know how their son ended up in a rolled-up matin his high school's gymnasium on January 10, 2013; his body was found a day later, when students in a gym class glimpsed his feet in the mat.
The original investigation by the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office concluded that 17-year-old Kendrick died by accident while reaching for a shoe, but the Johnsons don't believe that. They're planning yet another rally in Valdosta on Saturday to again demand answers.
"They know something happened in that gym and they don't want it to come out," Kenneth Johnson said.
Federal authorities, too, have their doubts about the original investigation's findings. CNN has learned that the FBI has been in South Georgia conducting interviews, and the Johnsons recently spent almost three hours with investigators at an FBI field office in Thomasville, an hour west of their hometown.
U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore said in November that federal authorities would investigate Johnson's death, and last month, the FBI seized the original hard drives from the surveillance system at Lowndes High School, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation surrounding the hard drives.
The federal investigation has yielded few details, but Moore issued a statement Thursday: "As we approach the anniversary of Kendrick's death, I am mindful that there is a great deal of interest in the status of our efforts. As I have previously stated, in order to protect the integrity of any ongoing investigation by my office, I typically refrain from making any specific comments about the investigation until it is concluded. As we continue our work in this matter, my thoughts and prayers will be with the Johnson family this weekend."
The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office hasn't commented on every twist and turn in the case, but has repeatedly stood by its investigation.
"It was not a rash decision that was leapt to. We've drawn this out, done a thorough investigation and we think we've covered all bases," Lt. Stryde Jones told CNN in May, the day after investigators closed the case.
The sheriff's office said it had interviewed more than 100 people - students, teachers and parents among them - but the timing of those interviews raises questions for at least one analyst.
CNN examined the 522-page police file and found that investigators spoke to 111 people.
Eighteen of those interviews occurred the day Kendrick Johnson's body was found, and another 15 people were interviewed later that month. Investigators then spoke to five more people in February and March before conducting interviews with 72 people in April, about the time media coverage of Kendrick Johnson's death gained momentum. One person was interviewed in May, according to the investigative file.
Former Washington Metropolitan Police Department detective Mike Brooks, an analyst for CNN's sister network, HLN, said that if he were involved in the investigation, he would "want to interview someone that day, that night or maybe the following day while things are still fresh in their mind."
The first responders weren't interviewed until April 17, according to the file, and the paramedic who noticed bruising on Kendrick Johnson's jaw - and considered the gym to be a crime scene - wasn't interviewed until April 18. Investigators didn't speak to the janitors who cleaned the gym until April 26.
Surveillance video shows other students in the gym with Kendrick Johnson before he died, but according to local investigators' reports, there's no record of interviews with any of them, although they spoke to more than 90 students.
"I looked at the crime scene investigation, evidence collection, the autopsy, the interviews that were done and were not done in a timely fashion. This is a sloppy case from the get-go," Brooks said.
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."
Authorities say Kendrick Johnson fell into the mat and suffocated while trying to retrieve a sneaker. His family suspects the 17-year-old was murdered and that someone has tried to cover up evidence in the case.
They spoke about their son and new surveillance video released this week on "New Day" Friday to CNN's Chris Cuomo.
They say the footage of the Georgia teen found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat raises more questions than it answers.
There were 36 cameras inside and outside the gym of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, where the body of Kendrick Johnson was discovered. The video was released as a result of legal action, filed by his family, that CNN joined.
Johnson's family suspects the 17-year-old was murdered and that someone has tried to cover up evidence in the case.
One clip shows Johnson in the gym. A second shows him walking in, then running out of the frame. In both videos, students suddenly appear.
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