Published On: Sat, Jan 18th, 2014

Kendrick Johnson death: Funeral home not charged for stuffing body with newspaper

The Georgia Secretary of State has concluded its investigation into the funeral home that handled the remains of Kendrick Johnson, according to a spokesperson for Secretary of State Brian Kemp. They report no criminal charges have been filed against the home in the wake of “questionable practices.”

Kendrick Johnson

Kendrick Johnson

Johnson is a Georgia teen found dead in Jan. 2012 inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his high school gym. After a second autopsy, reports confirmed that the teen’s body had been stuff with newspaper and organs were missing.

“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.”

Jared Thomas told CBS News’ Crimesider no criminal charges have been filed against the Harrington Funeral Home in Valdosta, Ga. because the investigation found “they didn’t violate any rules.”

Thomas said a letter of concern was issued to the funeral home on behalf of the Georgia Funeral Board asking them to “update their practices.”

“It’s not something very pleasant to talk about but it’s not illegal,” Thomas said Friday of the funeral home’s embalming technique.

Sherry Lang, spokesperson for the GBI, told Crimesider in November that in “every single autopsy [conducted at the GBI], the internal organs are returned to the body cavity.”

The body was transported from the GBI to the funeral home by a third-party transport company.

Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Johnson family, told Crimesider Friday that while the family is disappointed that the funeral home cannot be held criminally responsible for stuffing their son’s body with newspaper, it is “far less important than the critical issue of them discarding or destroying his organs.”

Crump said the fact that the organs are missing is “critical” because “it prevents the family from being able to retest and reexamine his organs which could provide valuable and relevant information as to what happened to him.”

“The family will be proactive in getting to the truth of what happened to their son,” Crump said. “This news will certainly be followed with action.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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