Second Excavation Begins at Florida Reform School

Workers excavation a grave in September.

Photo via The Florida Times Union Workers excavation a grave in September.

Last week, a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida began a second round of excavations near Boot Hill, the cemetery at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, FL.  Two bodies were exhumed in September using hand tools, but this time researchers are using heavy machinery to assist with 50 possible burial shafts that were identified by ground-penetrating radar.  The USF team expects to excavate 25 to 30 grave shafts before this second round of excavations ends this month.

All exhumed remains will be autopsied to help determine how the boys died, and DNA tests will help identify the remains so that they can be returned to their families for reburial.  Relatives of 10 missing students have provided DNA swabs for comparison.

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys was opened from 1900 to 2011.  After decades of reports and allegations of horrifying abuse, torture, and murder, the school was finally shuttered in 2011, after a Department of Justice investigation.

Earlier reports indicated that the deaths of two adult staff members and 96 children — ranging in age from 6 to 18 — on the property between 1914 and 1973.  45 of these were buried on the 1400-acre boys school from 1914 to 1952, 31 bodies were sent elsewhere, leaving about 20 bodies unaccounted for.  However, the LA Times article from this weekend quotes Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist leading the team, as saying that 100 boys died at the school with 34 boys buried on the grounds, 31 were shipped home for burial, leaving about 35 bodies to be found.   It certainly doesn’t help that  school officials kept sketchy records about deaths that occurred on the property.

To be continued…

Read more at the LA Times

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  1. First Set of Human Remains Remains ID’d From Florida Reform School « Strange Remains

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