Accused of Lying, Sheriff in Kendrick Johnson Case Offers $500K for Proof Leading to Murder Conviction
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk told Inside Edition Digital that there is no evidence of foul play in the 17-year-old's death, but that Kendrick's family doesn't believe it.
A Georgia sheriff who recently closed the case of Kendrick Johnson, the 17-year-old who was found dead and rolled up in a gym mat in 2013, is offering $500,000 for any information that leads to an arrest or conviction in the case. After a 16-page synopsis concluded that Johnson’s death was an accident last month, Johnson’s family still maintains that he was murdered.
“After the release of my synopsis of the Federal files on the Kendrick Johnson case, his parents have called me a liar and continue to state that Kendrick was murdered," Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said in a statement on Monday. "Because of these statements, I am personally — with my own funds — offering a reward of one-half million dollars ($500,000.00) to anyone who comes forward with information that results in the arrest and conviction of a person for the alleged murder of Kendrick Johnson at Lowndes High School."
Paulk reopened the case last year after the teenager's parents helped him obtain 17 boxes of evidence from the U.S. Department of Justice's case file on the boy's death.
Paulk told Inside Edition Digital that those case files had been what he had been waiting on and he combed through boxes with two other people who had previously worked on the case.
“It took 14 months to go through it,” Paulk said. “In all the evidence we’ve seen, there is nothing to show that anybody murdered Kendrick Johnson right now. People still have doubts and the Johnsons still have doubts, and they publicly called me a liar. So, I said put your money where your mouth is.”
Johnson was found dead on Jan. 11, 2013 inside of a tightly rolled gym mat by classmates at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. Investigators said Johnson died in a freak accident, becoming stuck upside down and unable to breathe after he fell trying to retrieve a shoe that was inside the upright mat.
Johnson's parents have believed from the outset that their son was killed. Mom Jaqueline Johnson said last Wednesday that she wants federal investigators to take a second look at what happened to her son.
“You didn’t find nothing in 17 boxes? That’s the craziest lie you could have told. We already knew what team you were on. You are not on the team of righteousness,” the mother told WSB-TV.
Paulk said he would offer up his own money if someone comes forward but that, as of right now, they have not had a viable person come forward yet. He owns several businesses outside of his job as a sheriff, he said.
Paulk told Inside Edition Digital that there remains no evidence of foul play in the case.
“The truth is the truth,” Paulk said.
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