In 2013, a 17-year-old named Kendrick Johnson was found rolled up in a mat at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department said he suffocated when he became lodged in the mat while trying to recover a pair of shoes. Still, the child’s parents insisted he was killed after having received the murder confession on tape.
However, new investigations now believe that the newly discovered evidence was a fabricated confession, according to WALB News 10.
Sheriff Ashley Paulk said, “This is a terrible hoax. This woman lost a child. I can’t believe somebody would even do this for any amount of money.”
Jacquelyn Johnson and Family Spokesperson Marcus Coleman presented the recording to the sheriff’s office in March, along with a photo of the person they said sold it to them for $1,000.
“This person, in my opinion, is a pathological liar. He has been convicted of giving false statements before, so we’re not going to go on his statements completely or trust him completely,” said Paulk.
On the recording, a male voice said to be Brian Bell said, “They are going to catch me anyway. I should’ve never done this. I was young and stupid. Kendrick didn’t deserve this, man.”
After a brief silence, the voice repeated, “They’re going to catch me anyways.”
Paulk said he told the Johnsons they had most likely been duped.
A few weeks following this, deputies tracked down the man who was paid for the recording, and he ultimately confessed to the recording being a fake.
“He’s a known liar, so who knows if he’s telling the truth,” the sheriff said of the man who provided the recording.
Brian and Branden Bell, who had initially been under suspicion, produced an alibi that witnesses backed up and video surveillance footage of them being nowhere near the gym where Johnson was last seen.
Finding no solace in the incident, the Johnsons’ spokesman, Marcus Coleman, said the family wants to conduct its own tests on the tape, to see whether it can be authenticated.
“The more eyes, the better,” said Coleman.
Jackie Johnson, he added, isn’t convinced the recording is fabricated.