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Published On: Tue, Jan 28th, 2014

USF unearths 55 ‘White House Boys’ reform school corpses at Dozier site

USF anthropologists say they have discovered the remains of 55 people buried at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

photo screenshot USF Dozier research video

photo screenshot USF Dozier research video

The former Dozier School for Boys was a state-run reform school in Marianna closed after physical abuse and deaths of students. Five more bodies were discovered than expected and twenty-four more burials that school records indicated, the University of South Florida team reported.

“Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” said USF Associate Professor Erin Kimmerle. “At this time, we know very little about the burials and the children in terms of who specifically was buried there, their ages or ancestry, as well as the timing and circumstances of their deaths.”

More research is yet come.

“All of these analyses needed to answer these important questions are yet to be done,” she said. “But it is our intention to answer as many of these questions as possible.”

On Tuesday, USF researchers led by Kimmerle announced several key developments:

  • The team recovered bones, teeth and numerous artifacts in every one of the 55 burials. The excavation work was conduced from September through December;
  • Researchers will continue to search for additional unmarked burials on the school grounds, both in the areas adjacent to the Boot Hill graveyard and other areas of the school grounds. Over the next few months, fieldwork will resume, including additional excavations, ground-penetrating radar and the use of specially-trained K9 teams to locate burials;
  • Analysis of the excavated remains is underway. Through this process, a summary report will be written for each body, including all of the information learned from skeletal and dental remains, artifacts and burial context. Bone and tooth samples will be submitted to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for DNA testing;
  • Researchers will continue to work with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to locate possible next of kin to collect reference samples for identification. So far, 11 surviving families of former Dozier students have been located and the sheriff’s office is in the process of collecting DNA samples. Researchers still hope to collect DNA from 42 more families. Anyone with information is asked to contact Hillsborough Sheriff’s Master Detective Greg Thomas at (813) 247-8678.

photo: USF Dozier Research video screenshot

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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