Kendrea Johnson was found hanging in her foster home bedroom with a jump rope fashioned into a noose around her neck.
On the floor, there was a bucket of water and notes that read “I’m sorry” and “I’m sad for what I do” written in purple marker. At her foster home in Brooklyn Park Dec. 27. There were no witnesses in the room.
Investigators didn’t want to close the case at a 6-year-old plotting her own death, yet all evidence under a spotlight said otherwise. Another huge factor to the suicide answer was that healed “ligature” marks were on her neck, strongly implying she had attempted asphyxiation before.
“All of the evidence leads back to either suicide or accidental,” Deputy Chief Mark Bruley said. “The reality is she was in the room by herself and we’ll probably never know the answer to that.”
Bruley said Kendrea had been getting treatment for emotional problems including suicidal thoughts. Child protection workers put the girl in foster care in December 2013 after her mother allegedly abused drugs. She had been at that particular home since March.
“She clearly had emotional issues. Does that mean she fully understood the consequences? I don’t know,” he said.
Kendrea’s foster mother said the girl had said she wanted to jump out a window and kill herself because “Nobody likes me,” the newspaper reported. She drew pictures at school of a child hanging from a rope, and police found healed ligature marks on both sides of her neck, the newspaper said.
David Palmiter, a psychology professor at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who researches child and adolescent behavioral disorders, said he never had come across a case of suicidal thinking in a child younger than 10 in more than 25 years of practice.
“If you just think about a 6-year-old and their level of cognitive function, that’s a really complex task for a 6-year-old to formulate an evaluation of your place in the universe … decide you’re at fault and nothing can be done about it,” he said.
There were 33 suicides among children ages 5-9 in the U.S. between 1999 and 2006, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suicides among young children are rare.
“It’s an absolute tragedy all around,” he said.