VALDOSTA, Ga. - A Georgia sheriff says his office has received new information in the death investigation of a Valdosta teenager whose body was found at school inside a rolled-up gym mat.
Eight years ago, classmates at Lowndes High School in Valdosta found 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson’s body inside an upright mat. Investigators concluded he died in a freak accident. However, Johnson’s parents say classmates killed their son and law enforcement and school officials covered up the crime.
Why investigators decided to reopen the investigation into Kendrick Johnson's death
Earlier in March, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk announced that officials were reopening the investigation and reevaluating the previously-sealed evidence.
And now, authorities say they have an audio recording of someone admitting to Johnson's death.
According to Paulk, it was Kendrick Johnson's mother, Jackie Johnson, who obtained the recording and turned it in to investigators.
"They had a recording that they actually purchased from someone who said that it would be valuable as far as saying who possibly had committed the crime and change their situation," Paulk said.
Kendrick Johnson with his mother and father, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson (The Johnson Family)
The sheriff said investigators are working to verify the recording and how the individual received the information in order to "follow the chain of custody.
"If it's a hoax, it's a very, very cruel hoax to do to Mrs. Johnson," he said.
The sheriff says his office will not be releasing the audio recording at this time.
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