VALDOSTA, GA (CNN) - A family is seeking answers after their son was found dead at school. Officials ruled his death an accident, but his parents don't believe it.
Kendrick Johnson would have turned 18 years old Thursday.
"I walked into his room and kissed his picture and said happy birthday, Kendrick," said his father, Kenneth Johnson.
In January, he was found dead in the center of a rolled gym mat at Lowndes High School. According to paramedics, it was a crime scene; they noted bruising on the right side of Kendrick's jaw.
Lowndes County Lt. Stryde Jones said they examined all the possibilities for cause at the scene.
"The only one that fit the physical evidence and the forensic evidence and the testimonial evidence that we received was this was an accident," he said.
Investigators said they believed the ten slipped his 19-inch shoulders into the 14-inch center of a mat to reach for a shoe. They said he got stuck upside down.
The family asked the school board to release any surveillance video from the day, to see if any clues could be found.
"We believe that these video tapes would clearly answer many of the questions that have surfaced over these many months," said Chevene B. King Jr., the Johnson's family attorney.
In June, the family exhumed the body and hired Dr. Bill Anderson to conduct an independent autopsy. Anderson said he found blunt force trauma to Kendrick's neck.
Jones said they found blood on a nearby wall where Kendrick died, but DNA testing showed it was not his blood. The investigator also said they had not determined whose blood it was, "but it doesn't appear to be involved in our crime in any way."
Anderson's analysis raised more questions about what happened to the body.
"When we got the body for the second autopsy, the organs, the heart, lungs, liver etcetera were not with the body," he said.
A spokeswoman for the state said the organs were placed in Johnson's body, it was closed and the body was released to the funeral home after the autopsy. However, newspaper was found stuffed inside instead of the organs.
The owner of Harrington Funeral Home wrote in a letter to the Johnson's attorney that he never received the organs. He wrote, "His internal organs were destroyed through a natural process and henceforth were discarded … before the body was sent back to Valdosta."
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