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Stuffing body with paper not illegal, report finds

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 6:24 p.m.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — A south Georgia funeral home broke no laws when it used newspapers to stuff the body of a Valdosta teenager found dead last year inside a rolled up gym mat at his school, state regulators concluded in a report sent to the teen's parents.

The family of Kendrick Johnson, 17, filed a complaint with the Georgia Board of Funeral Service last year when the body was exhumed for a second autopsy and newspaper was found in place of organs.

Johnson's parents are fighting to have their son's death declared a homicide. Authorities concluded that it was a freak accident.

Attorneys for the Johnson family released a letter from the board saying it found Harrington Funeral Home broke no state law. However, the board noted that using newspaper to fill a body cavity is not considered a “best practice” and that other materials are more acceptable than newspaper, The Valdosta Daily Times reported on Saturday.

Roy Copeland, an attorney for the funeral home, said its owners were “certainly happy” with the finding that it had done nothing illegal.

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