The Florida School for Boys, also known as the Dozier School for Boys, was a reform school operated by the state of Fla. in the panhandle town of Marianna from Jan. 1, 1900, to June 30, 2011, and was infamous for the ruthless beatings, sexual abuse, and alleged murders of the male students that resided there.
On Aug. 31, according to Fox News, researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) began the grim process of digging up dozens of graves found on the site of the former reform school, hoping to identify the boys that had been buried there.
Most of the shallow graves are only about 19 inches to three feet below ground.
“In these historic cases, it’s really about having an accurate record and finding out what happened and knowing the truth about what happened,” said Erin Kimmerle, a USF anthropologist who is leading the excavation.
A group known as the “White House Boys,” former student inmates who resided at the reform school in the 1950s and 1960s, “have detailed horrific beatings that took place in a small, white concrete block building at the facility.”
About five years ago, the White House Boys were credited with initiating the investigation into the bodies of the boys buried on the grounds of the former reform school.
In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended an investigation and said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff.
You can see the “Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Office of Executive Investigations, Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys Abuse Investigation” report, here.
Reportedly, the reform school segregated its black and white students.
To date, the only graves that have been uncovered are those of the black students. A spokesperson for the White House Boys is certain in his belief that that another cemetery filled with white former students, still remains to be discovered.
“I think that there are at least 100 more bodies up there,” said White House Boys’ spokesman Robert Straley. “At some point they are going to find more bodies, I’m dead certain of that. There has to be a white graveyard on the white side.”
On the school grounds buried deep in the woods lies a small unkept patch of land with 31 white crosses. Rusting away with time, they mark the final resting place for the unknown students that the state has confirmed were buried there. ~ CNN
Investigators and researchers hope to match DNA recovered from the exhumed bodies with families of formers students and inmates from the school in an effort return bodies to relatives.
For those bodies that can’t be matched with relatives, DNA will be recorded in the event of future familial matches.
For more on the story, see the video accompanying this article.
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