The remains of 55 people were uncovered on the school grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. The researchers at the University of South Florida announced that this number is 24 more than what was listed in the school records. Finally, relatives of some of these boys will be able to get the closure they have been seeking for decades. Currently, there have been no criminal charges filed.
The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys was a reform school operated in the town of Marianna from January 1990 to June 30, 2011. Over the span of it’s existence, the school developed a violent reputation based on reports of beatings, torture, and sexual assaults. There were multiple investigations into the school, including one by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and in 2010 and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice in 2011, resulting in the closing of the school in 2011.
Erin Kimmerle, a University of South Florida associate professor and forensic anthropologist has been involved in a two-year project aimed at uncovering all the mysteries of the school. From September to December of last year, researchers led excavations at an unmarked cemetery on school grounds. They used a ground-penetrating radar to determine what was underneath the ground before digging up the remains. This past Tuesday, bones, teeth and other artifacts were recovered for all 55 bodies. The researchers are going to attempt to verify the identities, ages, and histories of the remains over the next couple months. The samples containing fragments of bone or teeth will be submitted for DNA testing.
None of the grave sites where the bodies were found are marked; reports say that some of the bodies were even found in the woods surrounding the property. Records from the school indicated that 31 bodies were buried on the grounds. The records suggest that some of the boys had died of influenza, pneumonia, or knife wounds. Researchers will attempt to verify the way that the other 24 bodies died and when.
The number of bodies found by researchers has led many to believe that some of these children did not die natural deaths. However, no criminal charges have been filed at this point in time; no open criminal investigation exists either. Although there is no statute of limitations for murder and other crimes causing death in Florida, the possibility of collecting evidence of such crimes could be difficult because of the lapse of time.
Los Angeles Times, Remains of 55 found at notorious former Florida reform school, David Zucchino, 1/28/2014