The Georgia sheriff who has spent the last few years investigating the death of Kendrick Johnson offered $500,000 of his own money.
After years of controversy and conspiracies swirled around the death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk reopened the case last year and pored over boxes of documents.
“I’m going to try and dispel all the rumors and accusations,” Paulk told PEOPLE at the time. “I just want the truth. That’s all I want.”
Last week, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department issued a 16-page report stating there was no evidence to show that anyone else was responsible for Kendrick’s death, the New York Times reported. He described it as a “weird accident,” the paper stated.
Questions over Kendrick’s death began on Jan. 11, 2013, the moment he was found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat, which was standing upright in a corner of the gym. His sock-covered feet were sticking out and there was blood found on his shoe located nearby.
For years, Kendrick’s mother, Jacquelyn Johnson, and her family fought for answers that never came.
When authorities ruled Kendrick’s death accidental, theorizing he had fallen into the opening at the center of the mat and suffocated, the Johnsons conducted an independent autopsy of their own, which determined he was a victim of foul play.
“I’m going to fight this fight because, at the end of the day, that’s my child that’s in the grave,” Jacquelyn told PEOPLE in October.
Sheriff Paulk, who was not in office at the time of Kendrick’s death, decided to pore over 17 boxes of evidence in an effort to dispel any myths, hoping to close the case that has divided a town. But Kendrick’s parents didn’t agree.
On Saturday, Jacquelyn and her family gathered in downtown Valdosta to protest Paulk’s findings, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
“They can always try and do what they want, but I’m going to stay in their face,” Jacquelyn stated in a Facebook live stream, the paper reported.
Justice for Kendrick Johnson.