Body of student found at Lowndes County High School

Katina Petroff, the mother of a student at Lowndes High School, talks about her concern for her son after the death of his schoolmate. / Jessica Fairley


Officials with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department released the name of the student found dead on campus Friday morning.

Sheriff Chris Prine has confirmed that 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson was found in the gym Friday. He is a sophomore at the Lowndes County High School.

Sheriff Prine went on to say that after examining the body at the scene, there were no gunshot wounds, or trauma and the cause of death is still unknown. Prine also emphasized that the condition of the body doesn't mean this wasn't a homicide, and the department is exhausting every lead they have at this time.

The Sheriff's Department currently has three investigators throughout the Valdosta area today questioning witnesses; they plan to continue the investigation into the coming week.

Prine also detailed that the body was not rolled up in a gym mat, but was found next to several mats stacked up along the gym wall.

An autopsy will be performed Monday to determine the cause of death. Stay connected to for more details on this story as it continues to develop.


Officials at the central office for Lowndes County Schools have confirmed that the body of a student was found on the campus this morning.

School officials say that it is still being investigated at this time, but classes are still in session.

School officials also stressed that the Lowndes County High School is not under lockdown at this time.

Officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation say they have sent a crime scene to help the Lowndes County Sheriff in the investigation.

Katina Petroff, the mother of a 9th grade student, says that she works for the school system and was sent an alert via text message about incident. She said that she was concerned and wanted to get her child from school.

"Not knowing what happened you wonder how people might retaliate but it's just scary," said Katina Petroff.

As Katina Petroff worried about her son's safety, students tried to piece together how the death occurred.

"I saw his mom and a whole bunch of other people out there crying, so I walked in and asked one of my friends what was happening and they told me," said Alexis Everitt, a student.

Alexis Everitt was just one of many students shocked by the news. The information surrounding their classmate's death stopped the school in its tracks.

"Everybody was quiet. We went to lunch and there was not a word said. You could walk outside and hear a pin drop," said Everitt.

She added that she felt that the high school was safe and did not want classes cancelled on Monday.

Officials from the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department and Lowndes County Schools released a statement around 6:20 Friday night:

"We are deeply saddened that the body of a Lowndes High student was discovered today on the LHS campus," said Superintendent Wes Taylor. "Our hearts are burdened for the family, friends, students, staff, and our community."

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and emergency medical personnel were immediately called to the scene.

Under the supervision of Sheriff Chris Prine, the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation with the assistance of the GBI. The investigative team remained on the scene for several hours collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Although the exact cause of death is yet to be determined, as of this stage of the investigation, nothing has been discovered to indicate foul play was involved, according to Sheriff Prine. An autopsy will be conducted on Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner's office to attempt to determine an exact cause of death.

"We are confident that the campus of Lowndes High School is safe for the return of students on Monday," said Sheriff Prine.

The Lowndes County Schoolsâ"in cooperation with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and in consideration of the familyâ"will not be releasing the name of the deceased at this time.

Stay connected to as stories develop and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the conversation and connect with FOX 31!

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