to 8 PM.
While Kendrick lay nearby as a silent, unknown witness to the proceedings, the school's color guard went through its routines. More than one person who was there that night claimed that at about 7 PM, a teaching assistant who also worked with the color guard, let a Black male teenager into the gym.
This individual was approximately 5'10 and 165 pounds. Short black hair, wearing glasses and carrying a book bag, he walked up the ramp past the old gym, toward the main office of the high school. That was the last anyone saw of him.
The practice broke up at 8PM, with the only ones remaining Kendrick and the teenager that had been let into the gym and disappeared. Three days later on January 14, Lt. Jones requested that two specific items be removed from evidence and given to him for investigative purposes.
The first was Kendrick's cell phone, which was found on his person when the body was discovered. It was examined and the model and serial number were noted for the purposes of obtaining a Search Order affadavit. The idea was to see if the phone was working and if it was, who Kendrick might have spoken with prior to his murder.
There was always the possibility that he had spoken to one or more individuals who had done him harm.
The second item Jones took from evidence was a Nike shoe recovered at the scene, size 9. After examining it, the shoe was soon returned to the paper bag from which it had been extracted. The bag was resealed, initialed and then returned to evidence for storage.
The mystery deepened as the detectives continued questioning the high school students. On January 17, 2013, Det. Jack Winningham and Sgt. Mike Adams were interviewing students at the high school when Winningham heard an interesting story.
Months before, on school bus traveling to a school football game, Kendrick got into a fight with fellow student Sean Marshal. What the fight was about was unclear.
Following up on January 31, Winningham interviewed Marshal at his home, with his parent's permission. During that conversation, Marshal said that he had been in gym with KJ the previous semester. It was during their gym class that he saw Kendrick and other students throwing their shoes, "..over mats in the corner, then go retrieve them the next day to play basketball."
He mentioned nothing about their alleged fight on the bus to the football game.
Leads like this come in during every murder investigation and police have to follow up every one of them. This case was no different. Every one needed to be checked out.
Especially now that we know that Kendrick Johnson was murdered.
*Students names have been changed
Fred Rosen is a reporter and true crime author, whose book Lobster Boy is available at Amazon Kindle.