THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE BOYS ORGANIZATION

CEMETARIES AT DOZIER - FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS

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ONE OF TWO PAGES CONTAINING ALL THE NEWS ARTICLES AND TV COVERAGE ABOUT THE UNMARKED GRAVES OF THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS AT FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS "DOZIER" CEMETARY, WHICH IS NOW BEING INVESTIGATED BY USF ANTHROPOLOGISTS The Articles are posted by most recent first -- and go all the way to back 2009.  IMPORTANT!  To view all, you must scroll all the way down this page!
DOZIER SCHOOL & WHITE HOUSE BOYS NEWS -



Orlando Sentinel - May 12, 2013
White House Boys seek justice for reform-school abuse

Reunion

James Griffin holds a copy Sunday of the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg Times when the story published) that featured him and other men from the notorious Florida School for Boys. (Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel / May 12, 2013)

About 25 old men gathered beneath a shade tree in Kissimmee's Lakefront Park Sunday for a reunion of nightmares, scars, anger and pain. They were all boys in the 1950s and '60s when they were sent to a reform school in the Florida panhandle, where they were beaten, whipped and sexually abused.

They were at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna at different times and different places: the white kids on one side, the black kids on the other. But their stories of what took place inside a white, one-story concrete block building are so similar they say one man can start telling his story, another can pick it up with his, and a third can finish it with his own experience.

"We all had the same story. We all went through the same horrific treatment," said Jerry Cooper, 68, of Cape Coral.

The White House Boys, which now has 450 members, formed five years ago after investigative reporters uncovered the unmarked graves and untold stories of the decades of abuse that took place at the facility, which opened in 1900 and was shut down 2011.

The group meets in different places throughout the state periodically. This year they gathered in Kissimmee.

Their story is the story of James Griffin, a 67-year-old black man from Apopka, and Robert Straley, a 67-year-old white man from Clearwater. Griffin was a 16-year-old sent to the reformatory in 1961 for skipping school. Straley was a 13-year-old who ended up there in 1959 for running away from home.

Both describe being led to the White House, where a loud fan was turned on to muffle the crack of a leather whip and the cries of pain. They tell of being forced to lay down on a bed and grab the bed rails while being lashed 20, 30 or 40 times, until the skin on their buttocks was split open.

"One bed, one mattress. You lay down on your stomach and they beat the living snot out of you," said Griffin, a retired truck driver.

Griffin said he was beaten because he swore at another boy for stepping on his freshly polished shoes. Straley said he was beaten the first of several times because reform school officials thought he was planning to run away.

"It's important for people to know what happened," said Straley, who made his living selling concert T-shirts, posters and memorabilia. "Florida flogged boys for 68 years."

Efforts by the White House Boys to have their surviving tormentors prosecuted have failed, as have attempts to seek compensation from the state of Florida for their abuse. Their class action suit against the state was dismissed in 2010 because the statute of limitations had expired. A bill to pay the men for their torment as boys failed to pass the 2012 Legislature.

Their last hope is a forensic anthropologist from the University of South Florida who has received a grant to excavate the school's cemetery to determine whether any of the boys buried there were murdered. The fate of 40 boys at the school is unknown.

The White House Boys are too old for revenge, too weary for retribution. But they say their desire for justice won't die until the last of them is gone.

"The reputation of that school was well-known and nothing was ever done," said Cooper, president of the Official White House Boys Organization. "We just want closure."

jkunerth@tribune.com or 407-420-5392

WEAR ABC 3
The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Dozier School for Boys - White House Boys seek answers and apology

TALLAHASSEE -- The men known as the White House Boys are looking for answers and an apology.
Decades after the alleged abuse at the Dozier School for Boys, the survivors are a little bit closer to getting both.

Anthony Dilorenzo explains.
Richard Huntey: It was a concentration camp to me
Richard Huntley says he went to hell and back at the age of 11.

You got beat for walking in the grass, for talking in line, for wetting the bed, you got beat.

The Orlando man is now 67 years old.
He'll never forget his days at the state-run Dozier School for Boys.

According to reports, the reform school in Marianna allowed beatings, rapes and abuse for years.

Over 400 boys, now men, say the sometimes-deadly punishment happened in the "White House."

The way he showered down on the little boys, with a big old strap he would break their bones and slit them open.

Richard's physical wounds have healed.
And bi-annual gatherings of the so-called "White House Boys", like today's in Kissimmee is cathartic.

The talk among survivors exposing the truth.
Were trying to get the bodies exhumed in Marianna
An archaeologist from USF found evidence of 100 graves on the property.

Robert Straley helped bring the abuse allegations to light in 2007.
While a state and federal probe failed to prove anything criminal...

There's hope among survivors they'll find hard evidence.

Robert Straley
The truth is out and they might as well accept it
FIRST COAST NEWS -MAY 12, 2013



Researcher summarizes Dozier findings at NAACP meeting
from:  JACKSONVILLE.COM

Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013 Researcher summarizes Dozier findings at NAACP meeting 









In an NAACP-hosted meeting Saturday about the state’s ongoing effort to exhume and identify the remains buried at the old Dozier School for Boys, Dr. Erin Kimmerle summarize some of the preliminary work she has done in the project and took questions from the audience. Attorney Nicholas Cox from the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi also spoke, explaining why the exhumation is being pursued.

Jackson County Commission chairman Chuck Lockey spoke briefly as well, saying the county does not wish to block the effort. He and fellow-commissioner Dr. Willie Spires sat together at the session, the only two local government officials who attended.

The county had previous expressed concerns about what financial responsibility it might face in connection to the exhumation, and has entered a motion to be included as an intervening party in the lawsuit that AG and Medical Examiner Michael Hunter filed in seeking permission for the exhumation. Circuit Judge Bill Wright is assigned to hear the case and has not yet made a formal ruling in either matter, but allowed the county to participate in a recent case management hearing. Not convinced that it is a matter for the court to decide- saying the state may already have the right by statute to proceed, Wright has asked attorney Cox to give him a report explaining further why the court should be involved. Cox said Saturday he expects to have that to the judge in a few days. He also reiterated his previously stated assurances that the county will not be asked to contribute any money in the project.

On Saturday, Lockey commented on Dozier’s history as an asset that provided many jobs and “put food on a lot of tables” in its 111-year history. He also explained the county’s position on the investigation. “We want closure on this,” he said. “Jackson County is not going to stand in the way of this happening...so we can move on in Jackson County, so we can do something …that can be productive for years to come in Jackson County.”

NAACP representative from various chapters in the region and beyond came to hear the presentations and to tour parts of Dozier, including the Boot Hill cemetery where some of Kimmerle’s work is being done.

Family members of at least one youth who died and was buried at Dozier attended the meeting.

And at least two former Dozier residents were at the session.

One of the two who identified himself as a one-time resident of the facility came here from Connecticut to be at the meeting. Cocomo Rock said he made that trip because of the impact his 22 months there made on his life.

The other man, Charles Stephens of Alford, described in vivid detail the severe beatings that he says he suffered in the so-called “White House” punishment room. Stephens said he believes that some boys died in that room.

That belief and rumors of other issues persist in the community, despite several Dozier investigations that have been conducted through the years. Even after those investigations, inconsistencies and missing chapters in Dozier’s death records and overall history remain and, along with stories from former facility residents about mistreatment at the facility, they have fueled continued questions through the years.

Kimmerle has faced some difficulties in trying to round out the history of deaths at the institution. In about half of the known cases, no death certificate was issued, even though the state in 1917 started requiring them. A fire in 1914 may have destroyed an unknown number of facility records, as well, and some existing paperwork is inconsistent.

Kimmerle and her team at the University of South Florida are attempting to determine how many people are buried at Dozier, and who they are; they’ve found indications that roughly 50 bodies may have been buried in and around the borders of what has been generally accepted as the confines of Boot Hill cemetery, where 31 had been believed buried. The team has now identified what it believes to be the true border of the cemetery, having found a rusted lock in an area that interviewees had mentioned to Kimmerle’s team as the location of the cemetery’s actual border. It may have extended into the tree line well beyond the field of crosses that were placed in the burial grounds as a symbolic gesture many years after the last child is believed to have been buried there in 1952. Kimmerle is also examining other areas at Dozier to determine whether there is a second cemetery, since both black and white children died at Dozier and because the practice of segregated burial suggests that they would have been placed in different areas.

The Dozier probe began after Kimmerle was approached by Glen Varnadoe, the nephew of a boy reported as buried at Dozier. Varnadoe wants his relative’s remains found and exhumed so they can be placed in a family cemetery.

The state is attempting to find family members of other people listed as having been buried there, in hopes of using DNA to help conclusively identify the remains that are found, if exhumation does proceed. The exhumation would also include examination of the remains to explore cause of death issues.

In the event that the exhumation revealed evidence of homicide, it is not known whether criminal charges would be pursued or could be successfully prosecuted after the passage of so much time and the difficulties an investigation would pose. In any case, that would be a matter for the State Attorney’s office, not the AG or the USF team.

NAACP State President Adora Nweze spoke at Saturday’s meeting, which was emceed by Jackson County NAACP President Rev. Ron Mizer. Nweze said the organization’s interest in the matter, in part, is “to ensure that erroneous history gets corrected.”

Dale Landry, NAACP Florida State Conference Vice President, spoke further on the topic. “What we’re here to talk about is a slice of time where something happened. This is not to be a reflection on Jackson County…it is to find out what happened in that slice of time, to learn and then make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

After the public portion of the meeting concluded Saturday, a closed executive session was to follow. Former local NAACP president Elmore Bryant said he expected that the leadership would discuss what should happen next as that organization monitors the Dozier events. An NAACP representative indicated earlier in the meeting that it plans to file a motion, perhaps to become an intervening party, in the lawsuit as Jackson County has already done.

The meeting was held at the Jackson Alternative school, which is located near Dozier, and was arranged by NAACP’s State Conference.

April 26, 2013 · 3:04 pm
 

Why do you write horror? How can horror fiction be escapism?
by: Tananarive Due - *see About the Author at the end of this article *

That familiar query pops to mind as I’m riding with my father from Atlanta down to northern Florida to visit the site where the notorious Dozier School for Boys once stood as a real-life boogeyman to juvenile offenders from around the state of my birth.

Some former prisoners say boys were beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted. And as the cemetery behind the school still attests—called “Boot Hill” by locals—some of the boys sent to the Dozier School never came home.

Praying for answers at the makeshift cemetery: (left to right) Sam Palmer, John Due, Elmore Bryant

Praying for answers at the makeshift cemetery: (left to right) Sam Palmer, John Due, Elmore Bryant

One was a 14-year-old boy named Robert Stephens, my late mother’s uncle. In 1937, Robert Stephens died after allegedly being stabbed by another inmate. He was unceremoniously buried on the school grounds, along with 30 other boys the school had official records for. The school blamed a fire for some of the deaths, an influenza epidemic for others. (The school opened in 1900 and only closed in 2011 amid investigations. The deaths may have continued until the 1950s.)

But University of South Florida researcher Erin Kimmerle, who has used radar equipment tested at mass grave sites in regions like Kosovo, says at least 50 bodies are actually buried at Boot Hill. No records exist of how or why they died.

Some Dozier School survivors fear the worst, claiming that torture and beatings might have gone too far. In a CNN story linked below, a Dozier survivor recalls being haunted by seeing a black boy punished in a clothes dryer and being too afraid to come to his aid.

Today, the Florida legislature voted to allocate $200,000 to the university to exhume the bodies and do DNA testing to try to identify the remains and other tests to try to determine the cause of death. Over the past several weeks, the Florida Attorney General’s office and Dr. Kimmerle have reached out to families to inform them that they suspect relatives are buried at Boot Hill and to be certain that no one objected to exhumations.

One of those families was mine.

As far as I know, my late mother never heard the story of her uncle’s death at Boot Hill, or perhaps did not know of his existence. He died two years before she was born. But for some families, the missing boys were an open wound that kept parents awake at night with unanswered questions.

Families have been hard to reach. In most cases, surviving relatives who knew the boys are very aged or long ago passed away.

Although white boys were buried at the Dozier School too, investigators believe the majority of the dead were black.

For now, they are simply the Lost Boys.

At noon Saturday, local and state NAACP leaders are holding a community meeting at the Dozier School grounds.

“There’s no responsibility or accountability as to what happened to these boys,” says my father, civil rights attorney John Due, who often gets emotional when he talks about the Dozier School. As we’re driving, he’s reminding me that my late maternal grandmother had a traumatic response to growing up in northern Florida, where Marianna is located.

Tananarive Due with her father, attorney John Due

Tananarive Due with her father, attorney John Due

When she was young, her own family had a tragic brush with the state’s criminal justice system when her half brother was executed as a juvenile. I witnessed how that loss reverberated through the generations, having an impact long after he was gone. My mother and grandmother did not like to discuss the execution publicly.

“Somehow we need to get some answers about what actually has happened at the Dozier School, and we need to reconnect to the total community of north Florida,” my father says. “We cannot continue to live hiding, hiding, hiding, this trauma. We need to face it and then move on.”

But in a criminal justice system that is increasingly privatized and a War on Drugs that continues to target the poor and offenders of color, “moving on” is easier said than done. Even if the screams of the boys at the Dozier School have been silenced, countless inmates—juveniles and adults—still languish in a deeply flawed criminal justice system.

Will finding the remains of the Lost Boys help insure that the horrors of yesterday are not repeated today?

I would like to think so.

But regardless, every child buried at Boot Hill had a story to tell—and hopefully those stories will soon find the light.

* About the Author: 

Hi! I’m Tananarive Due, a novelist and screenwriter based in Southern California. I have won an American Book Award and an NAACP Image Award, but this site isn’t about my books–it’s my writing diary.  I’m also a writing teacher and coach. When I attend writer’s conferences and book club meetings or teach a new class, I’m often asked about the process of writing. Other writers want tips, and people who don’t write simply want to understand how books come to be. This is what I’m working on now.  Welcome to my writing day.  For more information about my work, visit my website is at http://www.tananarivedue.com. My Readers’ Circle blog, with longer articles and book excerpts, is at http://www.tananarivedue.blogspot.com.

Kelli Stargel on Dozier School for Boys
.
 TheSunshineStateNews·
Apr 25, 2013

State lawmakers are committing to set aside funding for the University of South Florida so its researchers can go ahead with a plan to exhume bodies at the controversial, former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

   

PANAMA CITY - NEWS HERALD - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Opinions  Letters To The Editor
Plenty of Panhandle secrets to be unearthed
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 08:00 AM.

By GLENN JONES

YOUNGSTOWN
Thank you, Sen. Bill Nelson, for directing a glimmer of mercy toward children allegedly killed and buried in shallow graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Tour attendance that day included Time magazine, Fox News and CNN. National media attention and investigative reporting might finally bring down a rotten regional governance in lockstep with those who had dirty hands on crooked shovels. The integrity of Northwest Florida leadership has been shoveling coal to those flames for decades. 

Mr. and Mrs. Citizen can rely on one thing for certain: Most local politicians would never willingly take a tour like Sen. Nelson. Our local leadership has never been concerned about little people, and has proven expertise only at pie-shoveling their own holes. Let’s unelect them all out of Panhandle politics. 

Stale Republican crumbs campaign from religious and moral sinkholes of complacency and complicity. We hear about their “family values and community service.” OK then, stand now and deliver — or step aside. Nothing much had been done about Dozier until Nelson took a stand. Are you for this investigation or not? Because not standing up for children’s rights means backing down for everything else important.

“Where there is smoke there is fire — no statute of limitations on murder,” said Mr. Nelson. Well said, sir, exactly true, so please bring the fire department and FBI, because the 14th Judicial Circuit has dragged its heels instead of draining a burning, stinking swamp right under the court’s nose for decades. 

Bay County’s 14th Judicial Circuit has plenty of secrets, including how a so-called “grand” jury is chosen. Secrets are a constant obstruction of genuine local justice here in the Florida Great Northwest, and this Dozier abomination has revealed how things don’t get done.  

The State Attorney’s Office filters its agenda before anything substantial can get started. It uses a hand-selected, secretive process instead of picking citizens at random. Legitimate courts depend on us average folks for a fair jury trial. It’s not kept secret, except under extraordinary circumstances. That is what is meant by Sunshine laws. 

State Attorney Mr. Glenn Hess uses “appointed citizens.” That’s convenient for him, because he can say, “Others made those critical decisions, not me.” It’s called plausible deniability. Who exactly are these hand-selected experts? Is it always the same honest opinions? Who knows? A federal investigation should sort this out, because unlike American justice it’s a well-kept secret … for now anyway. 

I wrote each one of the Florida Supreme Court justices and told them about the 14th Judicial Circuit methods. Chief Deputy Clerk Thomas D. Hall told me my letters were “inappropriate,” so I sent him a courteous letter telling him that if he signs checks in the name of Floridians involving fraud, he might be the one doing what’s inappropriate. I never heard back from Thomas D. Hall. 

It bothers me that we have an executive entitlement club wringing our collective public necks. A derailment of justice is evident in our children’s sorry health services, sorry schools, nonexistent infrastructure (outside of Pier Park) and endless projects benefiting the self-serving and greedy, never the needy.
If Mr. Glenn Hess and his staff were doing their jobs we would see at least a dozen serious investigations of this entitlement club that has been used to beat us over the head. No more “get out of jail free cards” served on a golden Monopoly board. 

What is more troubling than being BBQ’ed by endless incinerator debt? No, not being hung out to dry on worthless Redpine loans, or seeing hard-earned public funds gifted to Barefoot millionaires. 

Even the contracting for a single-runway, pork-barrel airport doesn’t compare to the 14th Judicial Circuit making it virtually impossible for surviving victims of Dozier reform school to seek basic human justice. Unimaginable crimes allegedly were perpetrated on incarcerated youth — rape, torture and slave labor no better than a World War II concentration camp. Any and all allegations could have been aggressively dealt with by Mr. Hess prior to this, and nothing. 

On March 28, standing over the shallow graves of 50 children, Mr. Hess said “prosecutions might not be worthwhile.” Is this your 911 response, Mr. Hess? Is this how hard you fight for those poor victims, their families and our community? Please heed Sen. Bill Nelson’s reasoning. There is no statute of limitations on murder. Mr. Nelson took a good and powerful stand, delivering a first beacon of hope in more than 100 years of deception, smoke and mirrors. Please follow a leader.


Dozier School for Boys: Child Exhumation Case Continues – The State/Jackson County/Dale Cox Appear to be Breaking Bread Together

By all appearances the State of Florida and representatives of Jackson County, Florida seem to be coming together on exhumation plans for the disinterment of the childrens’ remains buried on the grounds of the formerly known School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

Assistant Florida Attorney General Nick Cox (left) and Jackson County Attorney Frank Baker (right) Present Their Case for Exhumation to Circuit Judge William Wright

Assistant Attorney General Nick Cox (left) and Jackson County Attorney Frank Baker (right) Present Their Case for Exhumation to Circuit Judge William Wright

During a hearing on the State’s Petition for Exhumation, and Jackson County’s Motion to Intervene in the legal action, Circuit Judge William Wright, Jackson County, appeared not yet ready to grant the State’s Petition.

Judge Wright raised several questions during the hearing that he posed to the State’s representative, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Nick Cox, and Jackson County’s representative, attorney Frank Baker appeared together and united for the hearing. For now the judge has recognized the intervention of Mr. Baker in the court proceedings.

Judge Wright questioned whether the proceedings were even needed because of the medical examiner law in Florida that may give the medical examiner jurisdiction and authority to conduct the exhumations without a court order. Section 406.11 Florida Statutes provides that a medical examiner has jurisdiction to conduct autopsies in cases where certain circumstances are met.

DCIM100SPORT

These include in part where an individual dies (1) of criminal violence, (2) by accident, (3) suddenly, when in apparent good health, (4) unattended by a practicing physician or other recognized practitioner, (5) In any prison or penal institution, (6) in any suspicious or unusual circumstance, (7) by disease constituting a threat to public health, and (8) by disease, injury, or toxic agent resulting from employment.

Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner for the 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner for the 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida

All of the above elements appear to be present in the Dozier case thereby giving the Medical Examiner, Dr. Michael Hunter, jurisdiction to perform, “such examinations, investigations, and autopsies as he or she shall deem necessary”, as Section 406.11 Florida Statutes states.

Judge Wright also raised the question that Section 406.11 Florida Statutes was enacted in 1970, long after the deaths of children, and at least two adult employees, occurred. Judge Wright posed the question, does the statute apply to the remains of these individuals today?

The court and the attorneys also considered that in the case of Dozier that even though criminal evidence may be obtained by the exhumations and autopsies that criminal prosecutions would be nearly impossible. Judge Wright pointed out that only a “capital” case would overcome statute of limitations barriers to prosecution.

Judge Wright has given both Mr. Cox and Mr. Baker thirty (30) days to respond in writing to the court as to these questions and then a new hearing would be set. Mr. Cox expects to reply sooner.

Section 872.05 Florida Statutes further sets out that the discovery of “unmarked human burials” less than seventy five (75) years old would come within the jurisdiction of the medical examiner. This would include some of the shallow grave, unmarked burials at the Dozier “school”.

Florida State Archaeologist Mary Glowacki - Authorized and Signed Off of Dozier Exploration Permit

Florida State Archaeologist Mary Glowacki – Authorized and Signed Off of Dozier Exploration Permit

According to Mary Glowacki, the Florida State Archaeologist, even “unmarked human burials” older than Seventy five (75) years would still be under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner, and not the State Archaeologist, because of the elements present under Section 406.11 Florida Statutes.

As a result, Dr. Hunter has now accepted jurisdiction under Section 406.11 Florida Statutes.

Ms. Glowacki has issued a permit to a team of forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida (USF) to investigate the Dozier (state-owned) property with the purpose of identifying unmarked graves located there. Approximately fifty (50) graves have been located to date by the team led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist.

One grave in particular is being sought. Glen Varnadoe is seeking the remains of his uncle, Thomas Varnadoe, who died under suspicious circumstances at Dozier on October 27, 1934, in order to have the remains returned to the family for a proper burial. Coincidentally, this is the same day that Claude Neal was lynched outside the Jackson County Courthouse. Thomas was thirteen (13) years old.

Assistant Florida Attorney General Nick Cox Discusses the Exhumation Case With Glen Varnadoe Before a Hearing with Judge William Wright

Assistant Florida Attorney General Nick Cox Discusses the Exhumation Case With Glen Varnadoe Before a Hearing with Judge William Wright

A judge has ordered that the Dozier property not be sold until Glen Varnadoe, with the assistance of USF, has located Thomas Varnadoe’s grave at Dozier.

Currently work is being done on the south side of the Dozier property by USF searching for another graveyard where Thomas Varnadoe may be buried.

After the hearing before Judge Wright, Glenn Varnadoe and AAG Cox met with Marianna historian Dale Cox in the archive basement of the courthouse. The news media was excluded from the private meeting.

The purpose of the meeting, however, was for Dale Cox to provide assistance to AAG Cox and Mr. Varnadoe to locate other families of those believed to be buried on the Dozier property.

Jackson County Historian Dale Cox Researching the Jackson County Archives in the Jackson County Courthouse Basement

Jackson County Historian Dale Cox Researching the Jackson County Archives in the Jackson County Courthouse Basement

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Donation Citing Dale Cox as “Citizen of Year”

Dale Cox is highly respected in Jackson County and Marianna and has been designated by the Jackson County Commission to represent the interests of Jackson County and to assist Jackson County Attorney Frank Baker.

After AAG Cox and Glenn Varnadoe met with Dale Cox they proceeded to the Dozier southern property where USF and Dr. Kimmerle and her team are searching for the “white” graveyard and the Varnadoe remains. The media again was excluded from the Dozier property citing the danger of moving equipment being used.

Representatives of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and USF did advise Bay Community news at the main gate that no graves have yet been located on the southern parcel of the Dozier campus.

White House Boy Robert Straley in Front of the White House Torture Chamber

White House Boy Robert Straley in Front of the White House Torture Chamber

Surviving “White House Boy” Robert Straley commented, “Judge Bill Wright stated at the very beginning of the court hearing that he did not want to make a mistake. Considering that he is a Panhandle Judge with all of Jackson County looking on, he made a smart move by shifting the matter back into the hands of the lawyers, Attorney General’s Office and the Medical Examiner. This gets him off the hook for the moment and perhaps he will not have to rule at all. If this does come back at him and he must make the decision to go onward with the exhumations it will appear that he had no choice. Hopefully, the Judge will not be influenced so much by the opinion of the community that justice cannot prevail in the Dozier situation.”

When Judge Wright will have another hearing is currently unknown.

wjhg.com - PANAMA CITY, FL  
No Decision Reached in First Dozier Court Hearing
Posted: Tue 6:59 AM, Apr 16, 2013

Click here to find out more!

Marianna- If Monday's hearing was any indication, the state was going to have to work hard to prove a need to exhume some suspected grave sites at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

Circuit Judge William Wright ruled that Jackson County could challenge the state's request to exhume the sites, then told attorneys for the state they need to answer a number of questions before he would rule on their request.

"Why do we even have to be here" Honorable William Wright, 14th Judicial Circuit Judge asked. "Reading the medical examiner's statute, he has the authority to investigate some of these deaths. It doesn't say anything about applying to the circuit court for permission. The medical examiner's statute was created in 1970. All of these deaths you want to investigate happened before 1970. So if we get passed number one, we got number two. Does the medical examiner even give me any authority to enter any order, or does it give the medical examiner the right to investigate deaths prior to 1970?"

The state claimed the exhumations were the only way to find out if Dozier who and how many bodies were buried on Boot Hill. They also claimed it would be the only way to know if Dozier staff members were responsible for the decades-old alleged murders of some of the students.

Judge Wright also questioned the state's stance that this was a civil, rather than a criminal matter.

"This is an unusual situation" Florida Prosecuting Attorney, Nick Cox explained. "There's not a lot of cases like this, so I really wasn't sure how judge Wright wanted to proceed on this. So, he gave us some answers today and he gave me some questions to research."

The state maintained it would be nearly impossible to prosecute anyone even if investigators found evidence of murder. And family members said they were not expecting it.

"I hold no hard feelings to anyone in Jackson County, the state of Florida, or anyone else for that matter. I'm simply trying to get closure" said the family member of one former Dozier Student, Glen Varnadoe.

Judge Wright said he wanted the state to answer his questions within 30 days, then schedule a second hearing.

THE LEGEND.COM - LAKELAND, FL
Debate in Marianna: Dig for the Truth or Keep the Past Buried?

MARIANNA | The old reform school on the edge of town is all but abandoned. The only activity is from a few guards who watch the gate to make sure the locals don’t cut the razor wire and strip the darkened buildings bare of copper. But in this little blue-collar city a few miles up State Road 276, the shuttered campus, home for a more than a century to Florida’s juvenile delinquents, has surged back into conversation.

They call Marianna the ” City of Southern Charm,” but that sweet-tea nickname has been poisoned, some here are saying, by its connection to the reform school, built in 1900, and by incessant derision from a group of several hundred men who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, extreme beatings from school staff and tales of classmates who disappeared.

But no matter how many tell of being tortured at the Florida School for Boys, no matter how similar their stories or how many old newspaper clippings support their claims, some residents here refuse to believe them.

And now that the state attorney general and a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida want to exhume remains of boys buried in a neglected campus cemetery, to see how many died and how they met their deaths, locals are shoving back, trying to discredit the men and stop the exhumation.

”That stuff happened before I was a tickle in my daddy’s drawers, and it can stay in the past,” said Woody Hall, 43, who works for the local power company and thinks the men are after money. ”Let old dogs rest. Let it be. Leave it alone.”

”When they say torture and murder, it’s a slur against us,” said Sue Tindel, a clerk in the Jackson County courthouse. ”It’s personal.”

It’s personal because some in this Panhandle county of about 49,000 people know the men who ran the school. They sat by them at the Baptist church. They broke bread and rode horses together. They can’t believe that respected members of the community would march off in the morning and do terrible things to boys behind closed doors.

”If anything suspicious had’ve gone on out there, I’d know,” said Robert Earl Standland, 79, a lifelong friend of R.W. Hatton, one of the school’s deceased disciplinarians who has been accused of abuse by scores of men. ”He and I had a relationship such that he would’ve let me know.”

In 2008, five men went public with stories of savage beatings in a dank building called the White House. More than 450 more have come forward since then making almost identical claims. But many believe that unassailable truth lies buried in the ground, proof to Marianna residents that they’re not lying.

At a public meeting last week, a state NAACP representative who toured the campus recently with Sen. Bill Nelson compared the White House to a Nazi gas chamber at Dachau, Germany, suggesting that those who lived near the concentration camp did not know of the atrocities until the camp was liberated.

”I propose to you that many people in Jackson County did not know what was going on,” Dale Landry, regional vice president of the NAACP, told the Jackson County Commission. ”This is not an indictment of Jackson County.”

A man from nearby Two Egg grew incensed.

”What kind of a situation are we in when people are comparing Marianna to Dachau? That is absolutely ridiculous!” said Dale Cox, a lay historian and former television reporter who interrupted the meeting. ”Dozier school is no more Dachau than I’m Santa Claus.”

Cox, 50, recent recipient of the Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award, is leading the charge to disrupt the project. He prompted the Jackson County Commission to file a petition to intervene in the medical examiner’s motion to exhume bodies from the cemetery, which is being considered now by a circuit court judge.

Cox has argued that Jackson County taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the project. Last week, he asked the Marianna police chief to investigate whether anthropologists studying the old cemetery had the right to dig shallow trenches, a common process known as ground-truthing, while mapping the graveyard with ground-penetrating radar.

”If they violated state law, I feel they should be charged,” Cox wrote to the chief. ”I’m providing this for your information, but if you need extra information or someone to file a complaint, let me know!”

Chief Hayes Baggett told the Tampa Bay Times he spoke with state land officials and has chosen not to investigate.

”I’m not interested in wasting one taxpayer penny on a witch hunt,” he said.

Cox said he’s not motivated by money, and he’s not writing a book about the controversy, as he did about a notorious, unsolved 1934 spectacle lynching in Jackson County. He said he’s speaking for elderly citizens of Jackson County who feel they haven’t had a voice in rebutting the abuse claims. But Cox’s opposition to the cemetery survey stretches back a year, before the cemetery mapping project was widely known. Documents obtained by the Times show that Cox was urging his state lawmakers to stop the effort in April 2012.

”It strikes me as appalling and odd that taxpayer dollars would be spent on digging up graves that another taxpayer investigation has determined are in no way related to the allegations made against the school,” he wrote, referring to a 2009 investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that relied on incomplete records and found that no prosecutable crimes had been committed.

”Is there no way that funding for this project can be withdrawn or eliminated by the state Legislature?” he wrote. ”Marianna has suffered the loss of jobs and undeserved notoriety during a severe recession due to this fiasco and surely as taxpayers we shouldn’t be called upon to fund the digging up of graves too.”

The cost likely will be covered by the state and by federal grants. The state Senate in March recommended spending $200,000 on the project, and Nick Cox, statewide prosecutor for the Attorney General’s Office, promised Jackson County commissioners that no one would ask the county to cover the cost.

Dale Cox said he first learned of the cemetery in the mid ’80s, when he was working for a local television station. He researched it at the time for a story and has continued to learn more; he provided information to the FDLE during its investigation.

But Cox’s record as an expert on the graveyard is blemished. He posted a photograph in 2009 on his blog that he claimed was an aerial shot of the cemetery. ”As I have been reporting here all along, there are no ’mystery graves’ or ’unmarked graves’ in the little cemetery near Dozier School in Marianna,” he wrote. ”As I reported two weeks ago, most of the graves were there when the aerial photograph shown here was taken of the school area in 1940.”

But graduate students at USF couldn’t match the photograph with the known cemetery. They turned it 45 degrees counter-clockwise and the roads in the photograph matched a different part of campus, far from the known cemetery. Cox now says the geographical features he thought were graves were actually bee hives.

”He’s a farce as far as I’m concerned,” said Jerry Cooper of Cape Coral, who says he received more than 100 lashes in the White House in 1960 and paid for a lie detector test to prove it. ”I don’t know what his motivation is. It just don’t add up.”

Cox was also sure several years ago that the cemetery contained 31 graves, which matched the exact number of pipe crosses planted in the small clearing in the pines. But when the USF survey with ground-penetrating radar identified 50 possible grave shafts, many in the woods outside the perimeter of the cemetery, Cox changed his opinion. He thinks there are approximately 53 graves there now.

”At that time I was coming up with 31,” he said in an interview. ”But we knew there were gaps in the record.”

Those with a personal stake in the exhumation wonder why Cox and others are opposing discovery with such certainty. Glen Varnadoe of Lakeland made a promise to his dying sister to find the remains of his uncle Thomas, who died at 13 after a month of incarceration. He was healthy when he was sent to the school, his family said, but school records say he died from pneumonia. The retired CEO has spent thousands of dollars on attorneys to stop the sale of the school property so anthropologists can continue searching for another graveyard.

” My biggest question is: What do they have to hide?” Varnadoe said. ” If Marianna and Dale Cox want me off their rear-ends, they could walk out there and point to Thomas’ grave and I’ll get him and never visit their ... town again.”

Varnadoe wonders whether the Ku Klux Klan buried dead black men on school property. That may sound improbable to modern readers, but Thomas Varnadoe was reported dead on Oct. 26, 1934, the same day an illiterate black farmhand was tortured, killed, mutilated by a throng of 5,000, and then hanged from a tree that still stands outside the county courthouse. Jackson County in the early 20th century was well known for its lawlessness, violence and unabashed Klan activity.

Between 1900 and 1934, six other black people were lynched, one of the largest counts of any Florida county at a time when the state had the highest ratio of lynchings to its black population of any other state. Three days before Thomas’ death, the headline in one of the local papers read, ” Ku Klux Klan May Ride Again, Jackson County Citizens May Rally to Fiery Cross to Protect Womanhood.”

”We’ve been marking graves in this country since 1776,” Varnadoe said. ”There’s a specific reason they didn’t do it at that school. What else is buried at Dozier that the people of Jackson County don’t want the rest of the world to know about?”

Varnadoe is one of four descendants of dead boys known to be buried on school property who approve of the exhumation. The Attorney General’s Office is trying to locate others, and a circuit court judge will likely entertain opposing opinions.

Cox said he can’t object to Varnadoe’s desire to retrieve his uncle’s remains.

”I do object to digging up everyone in order to find one body,” he said. ”I have serious questions about, for the next year, for the next two years, the publicity they’re going to generate against our community. And if they don’t find what they want out there, it’s going to go on. We all know that. They tell us that this is to give us closure? This is just the beginning.”

It’s hard to tell whether the publicity surrounding the school has hurt the county’s economy, outside of several hundred jobs lost when the state closed the school in 2011.

Pam Fuqua, executive director of the Jackson County Tourist Development Council, hasn’t seen a measurable impact on tourism dollars coming into Jackson County, she acknowledges, but there is anecdotal evidence. Fuqua recently brought a bus of Canadian snowbirds from Bay County to Jackson County, and as the group drove past the old school, many of them recognized it and asked about its current status. That, she said, reflects poorly on the people here.

”It’s had a negative impact on the community,” Fuqua said, ” What we need is some closure.”

The biggest draw to the county is eco-tourism, like the magnificent caverns and cool clear springs. The second is history, she said, the antebellum mansions and historic buildings. It’s a certain version of history the folks here want to show off, separate from the boys’ school.

JACKSONVILLE.COM
Judge wants clarity before ruling on dozier exhumation request
Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 9:59 am | Updated: 2:54 pm, Mon Apr 15, 2013.
by Deborah Buckhalter

Circuit Judge Bill Wright is not convinced an order from the court is necessary for Medical Examiner Michael Hunter to be able to exhume the remains buried at the old Dozier School for Boys. Wright wants the attorney who asked him for that permission to research the matter a little further before he hears arguments in the case. At a case management hearing held Monday in the exhumation lawsuit filed a few weeks ago by Attorney General Pam Bondi, Wright said he believes Hunter may already have that authority in statute.

With historic records conflicting, Bondi’s office asserts, exhumation is in the public interest because it could aid in an attempt to determine as completely as possible who is buried there, and exactly where the remains are located. The state also wants all the remains at Dozier ultimately returned to the families of the deceased for burial, or, if no descendants can be located or if they do not want the responsibility, to have the remains interred elsewhere at a location yet to be determined.

Wright told Nicholas Cox of the state Attorney General’s office that he, Cox, must show that the decision falls within the court’s jurisdiction before he, Wright, goes forward in hearing arguments for and against the exhumation.

Cox said he expects to have his research to Wright in the next week or two.

Meanwhile, Wright did make one decision related to the case. At the hearing Monday, he ruled that, at least while the matter pends in his court, Jackson County can participate in the lawsuit as an intervening party. County Attorney Frank Baker filed a motion seeking that permission shortly after the AG filed the exhumation suit. Cox said in court that the state does not object to the county’s participation, so Wright’s ruling on that matter came without argument from either side.

Wright said there are some other questions to be answered as he ponders whether the matter belongs in his court. For instance, he pointed out the statute he cited regarding the medical examiner’s authority to exhume the remains came on the books in 1970. That’s long after the last boys were buried at Dozer. He wants the AGs office to research whether the statute would apply retroactively. Also at issue is the status of the case as a civil or potentially criminal matter, and how he would fit into the mix as a circuit court judge.

The state has characterized its attempt to find out more about the burial grounds as a civil matter, but does not expressly rule out the idea of prosecution if compelling evidence of wrongdoing related to the deaths were found. Acknowledging the difficulty such a prosecution might pose decades after the bodies were buried, Cox also agreed with Wright that the statute of limitation would, in any case, have run out on any offense other than murder. He re-iterated that the state’s primary motive for exhumation is civil in nature.

Questions have surfaced many times over the years about the Dozier burial grounds, as well as controversy over stories that boys sometimes received severe punishment in the so-called White House punishment room. The known burial site is marked not by names on graves but by PVC crosses placed there by a Boy Scout troop long after the last known burials there. A University of South Florida professor has led an expedition into the graveyard seeking to establish a better demarcation of the actual grave sites. The state’s exhumation request grew in part out of her work and findings, which indicate there may be more bodies buried there than previously believed.

The nephew of a 14-year-old boy who, according to record, is buried at Dozer, Glen Varnadoe appeared at Monday’s hearing and spoke afterward with various parties in the courtroom, including NAACP representative Elmore Bryant.

NAACP has expressed interest in the case, in part because the organization wants to know whether there is a second burial ground at Dozier as some believe may be so because of segregation policies during some of Dozier’s 111-year history as an institution.

There is also a special area of common interest for Bryant and Varnadoe; Varnadoe’s relative died the same day that Claude Neal was lynched and hung from a tree in Jackson County’s courthouse square.

Varnadoe said he has speculated about whether there was some overlap in the two deaths, but pointed out that it was a vague wondering that he has, at least for now, no way to prove.

TALLAHASSEE.COM
Mark Hinson column: 'Don't make me drop you off at the reform school'
Every Christmas, the Dozier School for Boys constructed elaborate holiday decorations and invited the town of Marianna to visit. This photo was taken sometime in the '50s. It was mostly a P.R. move to put a happy face on a dark place.
Every Christmas, the Dozier School for Boys constructed elaborate holiday decorations and invited the town of Marianna to visit. This photo was taken sometime in the '50s. It was mostly a P.R. move to put a happy face on a dark place. / State Archives of Florida

The former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna has been in the news lately concerning a graveyard that officials want to exhume. Marianna native Mark Hinson, who is on vacation this week, wrote this remembrance of Dozier in June of 2011. This is a reprint. A new column by Hinson will return on April 21.

In the spring of 1975, the movie "Papillon" opened on a Friday night at the scuzzy, rat-infested Ritz Theatre in downtown Marianna.

The film was based on a true story about Henri Charriere, who got the name Papillon for the butterfly tattooed on his chest. He got shipped off to prisons in French Guiana and Devil's Island in the '30s for allegedly killing a pimp, a charge he always denied. Charriere had "rabbit in his blood," as the warden in "Cool Hand Luke" put it so eloquently, so he kept escaping. And getting caught. And put in solitary confinement for years at a time. He ate bugs to survive.

When Papillon, played by Steve McQueen, finally floated off to freedom on a raft made of burlap and coconuts, the crowd stood up and cheered.

Most of the audience that night in the mid-'70s was made up of inmates from The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. The reform-school boys were bused in to the Ritz every Friday night and sat in the balcony. You learned very quickly to sit beneath the shelter of the mezzanine because the Dozier boys would rain down a volley of Red Hots candy, ice, cigarette butts and worse if you were sitting out in the open.

But was "Papillon" the best movie to show male teens who were locked up in one of the most notorious reform schools in the country? The State of Florida has never been real quick to pick up on irony.

Can you fix this?

A few years later, when I was in college during the early '80s, I took my battered, urine-colored, 1973 Ford pick-up truck to a mechanic in Gainesville.

When I asked if he would accept a personal check from the First Bank of Marianna in my hometown, the mechanic, who must have been in his 50s at the time, wiped his hands and said, "Marianna, huh? Where the reform school is at? Every time I acted up when I was boy, my mama told me that they were going to send me to Marianna if I didn't straighten up. Marianna was where all the bad boys went and that's where bad things happened. I was scared of that place."

"Tell me about it," I said. "My mother threatened me and my three older brothers with the same thing every day, 'Don't make me drop you off at the reform school.' And the front gate of the reform school was not even three miles from my house. That was an easy drive."

For most of the 20th century, Marianna was synonymous with "hellhole for juveniles" in much the same way Chattahoochee was code for "you've lost your flippin' mind, mate." (As in: "Oh, they shipped my uncle off to Chattahoochee after he said his dachshund sang to him in the night and was composing an oratorio in his honor.") No one ever said "The Florida State Hospital" or called the reform school by its full name. At one point, Dozier, as we locals dubbed it, was the largest reform school in America. We couldn't get shipped off to Marianna because we were already there.

The witch is dead

But times change.

In late May, the 185 employees who work at the 111-year-old reform school in my hometown were told that their jobs would no longer exist by June 30, thanks to drastic cuts in the state budget. The 63 remaining detainees will be shipped out to other overcrowded lock-ups. No one knows what will happen to the 364 acres and the 85 buildings that make up the property.

Hey, maybe they'll all be left vacant and Marianna will become home to 85 new meth labs! Let's get to work ... by firing people!

Still, I was surprised by my mixed emotions when I heard the news about the demise of Dozier. To use another movie analogy, it's like the death of The Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz." Sure, everyone was happy when she melted into the floor after a bucket of dirty water was thrown on her, but whatever happened to the castle guards and those flying monkeys after she was reduced to a puddle of goop?

Dozier's dark past caught up to it in 2008 when five former detainees claimed they were beaten by guards in the 1950s and '60s. They described a cinder-block building and unofficial torture chamber called The White House. That I don't doubt. As a youngster, I heard whispered horror stories about bull-whips, harsh punishment and forced marches.

But when The White House stories escalated into tales of murders, cover-ups and secret burials, I became skeptical. One book I read on the subject claimed that bodies were dumped in the Chipola River, right where I grew up. As much time as my family spent swimming, canoeing and diving in the Chipola, I think we would have bumped into some of those bones. I am not defending or denying the abuse that went down at Dozier in the bad ol' days, I'm just saying we were not living next door to Treblinka and keeping mum about it.

By the way, a Charlie Crist-driven investigation into the beating allegations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement resulted in no charges.

Christmas at prison

If you grew up in the shadow of Dozier like I did, you saw many different sides of the reform school that did not fit the gulag image.

In the early '60s, Dozier ran a petting zoo — complete with a biting monkey — that was open to the public. One Sunday afternoon, my mother took my older brother Robert, who was the most likely Dozier candidate in my family, to feed the disgruntled monkey. As they drove through the manicured grounds of Dozier, Robert could smell chicken frying for dinner. The inmates were splashing around in a swimming pool. A breeze was blowing through the pines.

"I don't know why you are always threatening to dump me here," Robert said. "This joint doesn't look so bad."

During the holidays in the '60s and into the '70s, Dozier took advantage of its surplus of free labor by putting up an elaborate Christmas display each year. Cars lined up for a mile or more during nights in late December to slowly drive through the maze of lights, decorations and giant Christmas cards made of plywood. Sure, it was all P.R., but it worked.

During the '70s, when the Dozier brass backed down from its Spanish Inquisition-inspired rule book, the reform-school boys got trips to the Ritz. The inmates, who all wore matching blue jeans and white T-shirts, were marched into the Ritz, up the stairs and into their reserved balcony.

They would stare at us and my friends, and I would gawk back at them during those weekly perp walks. As far as I could tell from outward appearances, there was very little difference between us and them.

The escape plan

The other contact I had with the Dozier boys was more direct.

Five times out of 10, whenever inmates would make a break for it, they would run across my family's farm. Sometimes they hid in our barn until the cops came. Other times, they would run to the Chipola River on our property and get hopelessly lost. Most of the reform school boys were from big cities and didn't know squat about the swamps.

One of the deputies told me that most of the escapees bolted just days before their sentences were up. He reasoned that Dozier was better than whatever life they left behind in the slums of St. Louis or Philadelphia.

One scorching summer, my father told me I was going to get a Ph.D. ("That's your post hole-digging degree," he said) by hand-planting more than 50 pecan trees in a dirt field.

My brother Randall and I were sent out to a remote corner of the farm with a portable radio, work gloves and two pairs of post-hole diggers. It was hot and tedious work. When I stopped to wipe my brow, I looked up to see two strangers about my age staring back at me from about 30 yards away. They were wearing matching blue jeans and white T-shirts.

After a full minute of sizing each other up, my brother and I went back to digging. They calmly walked off in the direction of the Chipola River.

"Who exactly is locked up here?" I said to Randall.

— Contact Mark Hinson at (850) 599-2164 or mhinson@tallahassee.com.

Editorial: The Dozier Saga

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:15 a.m.
Dothan Eagle editorial boarddothaneagle.com

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, which opened in Marianna as the Florida School for Boys on the first day of the 20th century, operated more than 111 years before closing almost two years ago.

Developed as a reform school – a place to take wayward young boys and rehabilitate them into law-abiding citizens – the Dozier School was dogged for years by former residents’ tales of abuse, torture, beatings, sexual assaults and even murder. Investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 2010 and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 confirmed many of the allegations, and the school was ordered closed.  And there are graves there, the final resting place of boys who died at the facility. Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist and professor at the University of South Florida, has spent several months probing the grounds and researching records to determine how many bodies are buried on the site. She has found conflicting information that suggests about 30 boys are buried there in a cemetery known as Boot Hill, but has discovered evidence of perhaps 20 more grave shafts.

Then there is the suggestion that there was another cemetery known as Cedar Hill, perhaps a segregated graveyard.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a lawsuit which seeks court permission to exhume the remains buried at the Dozier campus, and there is some resistance to embarking on a large-scale investigation into what or who may or may not be in the ground there.

The tale of the state-run Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys is disturbing, gothic and far from complete. The exhumations must move forward, as should a thorough search for other unmarked graves in the area. Remains should be found and identified, with family – if they can be found – notified of the finds.

The state of Florida has failed the boys of Dozier School for more than a century. It is long past time to do right by them.

In Marianna, dig for truth encounters desire to keep past buried

Saturday, April 13, 2013 4:30am 

They call Marianna the "City of Southern Charm," but that sweet-tea nickname has been poisoned, some here are saying, by its connection to the reform school, built in 1900, and by incessant derision from a group of several hundred men who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, extreme beatings from school staff and tales of classmates who disappeared.  (Article continued below the photos)

But no matter how many tell of being tortured at the Florida School for Boys, no matter how similar their stories or how many old newspaper clippings support their claims, some residents here refuse to believe them.

And now that the state attorney general and a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida want to exhume remains of boys buried in a neglected campus cemetery, to see how many died and how they met their deaths, locals are shoving back, trying to discredit the men and stop the exhumation.

"That stuff happened before I was a tickle in my daddy's drawers, and it can stay in the past," said Woody Hall, 43, who works for the local power company and thinks the men are after money. "Let old dogs rest. Let it be. Leave it alone."

"When they say torture and murder, it's a slur against us," said Sue Tindel, a clerk in the Jackson County courthouse. "It's personal."

It's personal because some in this Panhandle county of about 49,000 people know the men who ran the school. They sat by them at the Baptist church. They broke bread and rode horses together. They can't believe that respected members of the community would march off in the morning and do terrible things to boys behind closed doors.

"If anything suspicious had've gone on out there, I'd know," said Robert Earl Standland, 79, a lifelong friend of R.W. Hatton, one of the school's deceased disciplinarians who has been accused of abuse by scores of men. "He and I had a relationship such that he would've let me know."

In 2008, five men went public with stories of savage beatings in a dank building called the White House. More than 450 more have come forward since then making almost identical claims. But many believe that unassailable truth lies buried in the ground, proof to Marianna residents that they're not lying.

Horror next door

At a public meeting last week, a state NAACP representative who toured the campus recently with Sen. Bill Nelson compared the White House to a Nazi gas chamber at Dachau, Germany, suggesting that those who lived near the concentration camp did not know of the atrocities until the camp was liberated.

"I propose to you that many people in Jackson County did not know what was going on," Dale Landry, regional vice president of the NAACP, told the Jackson County Commission. "This is not an indictment of Jackson County."

A man from nearby Two Egg grew incensed.

"What kind of a situation are we in when people are comparing Marianna to Dachau? That is absolutely ridiculous!" said Dale Cox, a lay historian and former television reporter who interrupted the meeting. "Dozier school is no more Dachau than I'm Santa Claus."

Cox, 50, recent recipient of the Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award, is leading the charge to disrupt the project. He prompted the Jackson County Commission to file a petition to intervene in the medical examiner's motion to exhume bodies from the cemetery, which is being considered now by a circuit court judge.

Cox has argued that Jackson County taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the project. Last week, he asked the Marianna police chief to investigate whether anthropologists studying the old cemetery had the right to dig shallow trenches, a common process known as ground-truthing, while mapping the graveyard with ground-penetrating radar.

"If they violated state law, I feel they should be charged," Cox wrote to the chief. "I'm providing this for your information, but if you need extra information or someone to file a complaint, let me know!"

Chief Hayes Baggett told the Tampa Bay Times he spoke with state land officials and has chosen not to investigate.

"I'm not interested in wasting one taxpayer penny on a witch hunt," he said.

Voice for elderly

Cox said he's not motivated by money, and he's not writing a book about the controversy, as he did about a notorious, unsolved 1934 spectacle lynching in Jackson County. He said he's speaking for elderly citizens of Jackson County who feel they haven't had a voice in rebutting the abuse claims. But Cox's opposition to the cemetery survey stretches back a year, before the cemetery mapping project was widely known. Documents obtained by the Times show that Cox was urging his state lawmakers to stop the effort in April 2012.

"It strikes me as appalling and odd that taxpayer dollars would be spent on digging up graves that another taxpayer investigation has determined are in no way related to the allegations made against the school," he wrote, referring to a 2009 investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that relied on incomplete records and found that no prosecutable crimes had been committed.

"Is there no way that funding for this project can be withdrawn or eliminated by the State Legislature?" he wrote. "Marianna has suffered the loss of jobs and undeserved notoriety during a severe recession due to this fiasco and surely as taxpayers we shouldn't be called upon to fund the digging up of graves too."

The cost likely will be covered by the state and by federal grants. The state Senate in March recommended spending $200,000 on the project, and Nick Cox, statewide prosecutor for the Attorney General's Office, promised Jackson County commissioners that no one would ask the county to cover the cost.

Dale Cox said he first learned of the cemetery in the mid '80s, when he was working for a local television station. He researched it at the time for a story and has continued to learn more; he provided information to the FDLE during its investigation.

But Cox's record as an expert on the graveyard is blemished. He posted a photograph in 2009 on his blog that he claimed was an aerial shot of the cemetery. "As I have been reporting here all along, there are no 'mystery graves' or 'unmarked graves' in the little cemetery near Dozier School in Marianna," he wrote. "As I reported two weeks ago, most of the graves were there when the aerial photograph shown here was taken of the school area in 1940."

Complaints debunked

But graduate students at USF couldn't match the photograph with the known cemetery. They turned it 45 degrees counter-clockwise and the roads in the photograph matched a different part of campus, far from the known cemetery. Cox now says the geographical features he thought were graves were actually bee hives.

"He's a farce as far as I'm concerned," said Jerry Cooper of Cape Coral, who says he received more than 100 lashes in the White House in 1960 and paid for a lie detector test to prove it. "I don't know what his motivation is. It just don't add up."

Cox was also sure several years ago that the cemetery contained 31 graves, which matched the exact number of pipe crosses planted in the small clearing in the pines. But when the USF survey with ground-penetrating radar identified 50 possible grave shafts, many in the woods outside the perimeter of the cemetery, Cox changed his opinion. He thinks there are approximately 53 graves there now.

"At that time I was coming up with 31," he said in an interview. "But we knew there were gaps in the record."

Those with a personal stake in the exhumation wonder why Cox and others are opposing discovery with such certainty. Glen Varnadoe of Lakeland made a promise to his dying sister to find the remains of his uncle Thomas, who died at 13 after a month of incarceration. He was healthy when he was sent to the school, his family said, but school records say he died from pneumonia. The retired CEO has spent thousands of dollars on attorneys to stop the sale of the school property so anthropologists can continue searching for another graveyard.

Klan involvement?

"My biggest question is: What do they have to hide?" Varnadoe said. "If Marianna and Dale Cox want me off their rear-ends, they could walk out there and point to Thomas' grave and I'll get him and never visit their . . . town again."

Varnadoe wonders whether the Ku Klux Klan buried dead black men on school property. That may sound improbable to modern readers, but Thomas Varnadoe was reported dead on Oct. 26, 1934, the same day an illiterate black farmhand was tortured, killed, mutilated by a throng of 5,000, and then hanged from a tree that still stands outside the county courthouse. Jackson County in the early 20th century was well known for its lawlessness, violence and unabashed klan activity.

Between 1900 and 1934, six other black people were lynched, one of the largest counts of any Florida county at a time when the state had the highest ratio of lynchings to its black population of any other state. Three days before Thomas' death, the headline in one of the local papers read, "Ku Klux Klan May Ride Again, Jackson County Citizens May Rally to Fiery Cross to Protect Womanhood."

"We've been marking graves in this country since 1776," Varnadoe said. "There's a specific reason they didn't do it at that school. What else is buried at Dozier that the people of Jackson County don't want the rest of the world to know about?"

Varnadoe is one of four descendants of dead boys known to be buried on school property who approve of the exhumation. The Attorney General's Office is trying to locate others, and a circuit court judge will likely entertain opposing opinions. A case management hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

Cox said he can't object to Varnadoe's desire to retrieve his uncle's remains.

"I do object to digging up everyone in order to find one body," he said. "I have serious questions about, for the next year, for the next two years, the publicity they're going to generate against our community. And if they don't find what they want out there, it's going to go on. We all know that. They tell us that this is to give us closure? This is just the beginning."

The cost of bad press

It's hard to tell whether the publicity surrounding the school has hurt the county's economy, outside of several hundred jobs lost when the state closed the school in 2011.

Pam Fuqua, executive director of the Jackson County Tourist Development Council, hasn't seen a measurable impact on tourism dollars coming into Jackson County, she acknowledges, but there is anecdotal evidence. Fuqua recently brought a bus of Canadian snowbirds from Bay County to Jackson County, and as the group drove past the old school, many of them recognized it and asked about its current status. That, she said, reflects poorly on the people here.

"It's had a negative impact on the community," Fuqua said, "What we need is some closure."

The biggest draw to the county is eco-tourism, like the magnificent caverns and cool clear springs. The second is history, she said, the antebellum mansions and historic buildings. It's a certain version of history the folks here want to show off, separate from the boys' school.

"We don't want to be known for this," she said.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.

In Marianna, dig for truth encounters desire to keep past buried 04/13/13 [Last modified: Saturday, April 13, 2013 9:45pm]



A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE OR A NEW DAY AT DOZIER SCHOOL FOR BOYS CONCENTRATION CAMP IN
KKK HELD MARIANNA FL
by Robert Straley.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

whitehouse1936-426x332

CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE OR A NEW DAY AT DOZIER SCHOOL FOR BOYS CONCENTRATION CAMP IN KKK HELD MARIANNA FL by Robert Straley.

UK Newspaper the Independent March 3rd, 2013; ‘A concentration camp for little boys’ Dark secrets unearthed in KKK County Marianna Fl. Excavators discover 50 bodies buried in the grounds of a boys’ borstal, which was only shut in 2010. The soil here, churned in places by tiny ants, holds more than the remains of little boys. Only now is it starting to give up its dark secrets: horror stories of state-sanctioned barbarism, including flogging, sexual assault and, possibly, murder.
As a long time resident and business owner in Panama City Fl before moving to Sarasota Fl, I had several investigative cases in and around Marianna Fl, I got a good taste of the mind set of the residents. For several years I have worked in conjunction wiith the White House Boys in getting their story out to the public, in doing so I have had over 30 phone interviews with past “inmates” at the Dozier School for Boys. In each and every one of these phone interviews the story was always the same, beatings, rape and young boys who went to the “White House” and were never seen again. It is what it is and the FBI should be on the ground along with USF Prof Dr. Kimmerle and her team investigating the possible murders and civil rights violations of the boys at the Dozier School in Marianna Fl.

Article written today, April 11th, 2013, by Robert Straley whereby he compares the brutal guards at the Dozier School for Boys Concentration Camp to the SS Officers at Dachau: I woke up this morning to a news story that the Marianna Police Department was investigating the permit used to conduct recent research at the former Dozier School for Boys in Jackson County. Kevin Wood, of the Bay Community News was on this story before I could get down a cup of coffee and read the news. It seems Dale Cox, self described historian and self published writer, reported to the Marianna Police Chief Hayes Baggett that he felt USF over stepped the boundary of their archaeological permit and may have violated Florida Statutes.

However, that turned out to not be the case: the Police Chief was just looking into the matter. Chief Baggett, his photo, did obtain a copy of the permit and had spoken with the Bureau of Archeological Research (BAR). Baggett says BAR representatives tell him there was nothing done that was out of the scope of the permit. Now I can see where Dale Cox, who seems to be the voice of Marianna, at least sanctioned by the county commissioners, probably used Statute 872.02 of the Florida Statutes to make his case. However, I fail to see how he could have missed: sub-section (3) This section shall not apply to any person acting under the direction or authority of the Division of Historical Resources of the Department of State, to cemeteries operating under chapter 497, or to any person otherwise authorized by law to remove or disturb a tomb, monument, gravestone, burial mound, or similar structure, or its contents, as described in subsection (1).
 

FRONT PAGE UPDATE Sunday April 14th 2013 TAMPA BAY TIMES… In Marianna dig for truth encounters desire to keep past buried, Dale Cox says taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to dig for bodies at the Dozier School For Boys Concentration Camp, see
http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/in-marianna-dig-for-truth-encounters-desire-to-keep-past-buried/2114932
If Mr Cox is the voice of Marianna, then he is taking the town down the wrong path, the same path of obstruction to the truth and the very path that eventually caused Marianna to lose Dozier. I notice in the news that people in Marianna are finally speaking out about Professor Kimmerle’s work and agree it is the right way to get to the bottom of Dozier’s brutal past, even if it is a painful journey. Marianna wants a new chapter to begin, closing once and for all the evil deeds of a few that caused so much pain for so many. Sixty eight years of the flogging of boys and surrounding the facility in a veil of secrecy has probably topped any institution’s record for abuse. Towns people that wanted to speak out were silenced by fear of those in power.
I did not find Mr. Landry’s remark about Dachau out of order at all. While it is true this was a very small holocaust, in a very small town, the same situation occurred. At the school we were in fear each and every day of receiving a flogging for the slightest infraction or at their whim. Medical experimentation on the boys by Dr. Souza is a known fact. Prisoners at Dachau feared they would be sent to the crematorium or gallows or simply shot. German physicians performed medical experiments on prisoners as well, resulting in deaths. If a towns person objected who would they complain to, the SS Officers? Unlikely.
In each case the facilities were near a town that hid the brutality and deaths from outsiders. As one elderly lady told me: “If you talked about the boys and what was happening to them your barn could be burnt, your cattle poisoned or you might just pick up a stray bullet from a hunter’s rifle. That was the word back then and that is the word now.” I got this same story from three ladies that were all at least in their late seventies or eighties. Those that didn’t agree with the beatings weren’t going to the Police, not in the town of Marianna with a heavy KKK presence. One policeman stated: “This town is sewed up tight. You’re not going to find out anything here.”
The lawyers don’t need any more stories from the men, they don’t need any more historical information from us, they have all the evidence they need. The Senators and Representatives of Florida know about it, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senator Bill Neslon, his photo on right, Wansley Walters DJJ, Glenn Hess State Attorney, are all aware of the situation and want justice and closure. For anyone to take the part of an obstructionist seems insane when the cat has been out of the bag this long.
Front entrance of Jackson County Courthouse It puzzles me due to the fact that I am not exactly sure what it is Dale Cox and the Jackson County Commissioners are afraid they might find should the exhumations take place. If he truly believes that there was no wrong doing at the school then why doesn’t he keep quiet until the results come in; then the truth will be known. Up to this point the facts support the allegations brought forth by the White House Boys and that is why the state of Florida has agreed to look into the matter. Mr. Cox seems to go from one personal complaint to another. When one does not work to his benefit he moves on to another. It has now been stated by state officials that Jackson County will not have to bear the cost of any work done by the University of South Florida. Now that he has lost that battle what does he have planned next? By trying to discredit USF and Professor Kimmerle he is only making a fool of himself. Let him show his Curriculum Vitae as Professor Kimmerle’s is posted.
As head of DJJ, Secretary Wansley Walters launched her “Roadmap to System Excellence” a comprehensive initiative to strategically reform juvenile justice in Florida which is designed to give juveniles the proper service and help at the right time and place, sending younger and less serious offenders to group homes or situations other than straight to a jail or juvenile hall. It seems to be a wonderful success. The days of “Sweeping it under the rug” or “That’s Florida for you” is nearing an end. The “good old boys” had their time and blew it. Teenagers dying in juvenile halls are not being over-looked as they once were. Guards that commit cruelty are being fired or charged with a crime. Accountability has arrived.
We will probably never see a single person charged with a crime from our time period, but at least the boys that died in silence and fear are being found at last. I think that was the intention in the first place. This is the story that started itself, that put together a million to one chance encounter of a few individuals, a hand that picked several of the “worst of the worst,” to do the work, men that would not falter nor tire, reporters that believed us, God bless them all, and those in power who have made a stand. It only takes a few candles to extinguish the darkness. Let those lost boys be found and accounted for, even those without a name remembered in some fashion as they were but Florida’s wayward sons. “
r.straley
Bill Warner Private Investigator Sarasota Fl at www.wbipi.com

 



State Attorney Glenn Hess: Jackson County “Historian” Dale Cox Alleges Criminal Violations by Dozier School for Boys Investigating USF Anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle

By: Kevin Earl Wood, allunited@bellsouth.net 

Jackson County “historian” Dale Cox has now taken his quest to stop the exhumations of childrens’ unmarked graveyard remains at the Dozier School for Boys to a new criminal allegation level.

Mr. Cox has alleged to the Marianna, Jackson County, Florida Chief of Police Hayes Baggett that University of South Florida (USF) forensic anthropologist and researcher Dr. Erin Kimmerle has violated Section 872.02 of the Florida statutes, which if so constitutes a felony in Florida.

State Attorney Glenn Hess, 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida

State Attorney Glenn Hess, 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Chief Baggett has confirmed that there is no criminal investigation open with the Marianna Police Department but states in an email to Bay Community News, “I have turned everything over to [State Attorney] Glenn Hess, and I gave Dale Cox, Mr Hess email address.” Mr. Hess’s assistant, Kim Williams, has verified that the matter is being reviewed by Mr. Hess.

USF Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle

USF Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle

Section 872.02 makes it a felony offense to disturb the contents of a grave. However, the statute also provides that, “This section shall not apply to any person acting under the direction or authority of the Division of Historical Resources of the Department of State…”

Dr. Kimmerle and her team have received a permit from the State Archeologist, Division of Historical Resources to conduct her exploratory investigation at the Dozier School for Boys.

Mr. Cox has alleged that Dr. Kimmerle has exceeded the authority granted by the permit.

It is unknown how long Mr. Hess will take to “review” the matter.

If anyone would like to contact Mr. Hess with comments or inflormation, his official email is glenn.hess@sa14.fl.gov .

Dr. Kimmerle, also a professor at USF, comes equipped with impressive credentials. The work she has done at Dozier so far has been lauded by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, medical examiner Michael Hunter, and others.

For Mr. Cox to accuse Dr. Kimmerle of felony conduct dictates that he should be advised that his evidence to support such a charge is credible.


JC FLORIDIAN.COM
Case management hearing set for Monday in Dozier exhumation lawsuitDozier


DOZIER -
Texas resident Judy Weese straightens one of the signs that she and husband Sam Weese placed, along with some flowers, against the exterior fence at Dozier School for Boys last Saturday. Mr. Weese said he lived at Dozier for 2 to 3 years as a teenager. He said he decided to come to Dozier and leave the signs and flowers as a message to decision-makers while he was visiting relatives in Florida last week. He said he put the materials there to encourage the state to continue its quest to exhume the remains of the boys who were buried at Dozier decades ago and to have them re-interred at locations of their families’ choosing. “I’m trying to say, let them go home,” he explained Thursday. Now 66 years of age, Weese said he was sent to Dozier while living in South Florida at the age of 14 or 15. A participant in a Dozier-related lawsuit, Weese said he could not elaborate further at this time on his experiences at Dozier.

Posted on April 11, 2013

A case management hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday in the state’s lawsuit seeking permission to exhume remains at Dozier School for Boys, where approximately 50 young people are believed to be buried in the now-closed facility’s “Boot Hill” cemetery. The suit was filed by Attorney General Pam Bondi several weeks ago. The county subsequently filed a motion to become an intervening party in the case, and is expected to be represented Monday by county attorney Frank Baker.

Medical Examiner Michael Hunter would take over the exhumation process if it is authorized by the court. His quest is to identify remains, determine whether any of the deaths appear to be of a suspicious nature, and if possible to otherwise build on the sometimes conflicting base of information related to the deaths.

The exhumation request was filed after a University of South Florida professor began examining the Dozier grounds in an attempt to answer lingering questions about its burial site. For decades, there has been speculation about the accuracy of the Dozier records as to who is buried at the site and how they died, and some have also publicly wondered whether any criminal wrongdoing was behind any of the deaths. The professors work has centered on determining the number and locations of grave sites.

AG attorney Nicholas Cox requested the management hearing this week after appearing before Jackson County Commissioners on Tuesday to explain the state’s reasons for requesting court approval of the exhumation. Cox also apologized to commissioners for not contacting them prior to the AG’s filing of the lawsuit, and told board members the state wishes to partner with the county in attempting to resolve the long-standing controversy and reportedly conflicting records related to the burial site.

He said several times in the meeting that the county would not be held financially responsible for any of the costs associated with the probe, a matter board members had expressed concerns about. The state, he said, wishes to exhume the entire known cemetery and re-inter the remains at sites chosen by the families of the deceased who can be identified by mitochondrial DNA testing or other means.

Any remains not identified would be re-interred at a location yet to be decided, but the cemetery at Dozier would likely be cleared in the process under the state’s desired plan, Cox said. The state also wishes to determine whether an addition cemetery exists. National, state and local representatives of the NAACP contend that the matter bears full examination, based on the possibility that Dozier may have followed society’s practice of segregating cemeteries.

The known Dozier graveyard is marked only by symbolic crosses placed in the area by a Boy Scout troop years after the last person was buried there. The USF professor’s probe indicates that the crosses don’t necessarily line up with actual graves, and her findings also indicate that there may be burial shafts at locations outside the border of the area marked by crosses.

County officials have expressed doubts about whether exhumation would result in a significant number of identifications, pointing out that, so far, the state has only been able to make contact with the families of eight boys believed to be buried in the cemetery. Without descendant DNA to compare, some of them say, the state may never be able to accomplish that goal and will spend many tax dollars in what may be a futile attempt. The state is seeking a legislative appropriation to further the work, as well as grants and other sources.

Cox told board members this week that Bondi was moved to seek permission for the process in part because of a visit from Glenn Varnados, the nephew of one of the boys believed buried at Dozier. He wants his uncle’s remains positively identified, disinterred and re-buried in a family grave site.

The exhumation case is currently assigned to Circuit Judge Bill Wright.

UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA'S NEWS - THE MINARET ONLINE

Disturbing Secrets Emerge After Reform School Close
Posted April 11 2013 at 12:00 am | Updated April 14th, 2013 at 5:46 pm

The Dozier School for Boys (formerly known as the Florida School for Boys) in Marianna, Fla. was a “reform school” for boys. It was supposed to make them better citizens and mold them into good men. The school was in operation from Jan. 1, 1900 to June 30, 2011. At one point, it was the largest juvenile reform institution in the United States. Since its first scandal in 1903 when investigators (a committee sent by the governor) found boys as young as six-years-old wearing iron chains, the school has become notorious for its harsh punishments.

In October 2008, five men came forward to share their experiences at the Dozier School for Boys with the public. The Department of Juvenile Justice held a ceremony for the five men to seal the “white house” — a brick building on campus where the men claimed they were tortured. A plaque was placed on the front of the white house that read, “May this building stand as a reminder of the need to remain vigilant in protecting our children as we help them to seek a brighter future.” According to Ben Montgomery, a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, the beatings endured by the boys were severe. “When I say ‘tortured’ I mean beaten with a weighted, thick-leather strap until their behinds were lacerated, and their underwear, in some cases, became imbedded into their behinds,” Montgomery said.

The Minaret talked with Montgomery to find out more about the Dozier School for Boys.

The Minaret (M): The abuse for the boys has been the center of focus for the public. What can you say about the abuse? How and why it was kept in the dark for so long?

Ben Montgomery (BM): The abuse came in many forms depending on the period of time here that you’re looking at. In 1903 kids were being locked in irons [chains] like common criminals. Later on, kids were being farmed out for labor to area farmers. In the 50’s and 60’s, some in the 40’s, the abuse took the form of brutal beatings in the building called the “white house” where kids were told to lie face-down on a metal cot and were whipped with a heavy leather-strap until their behinds split open. In the 70’s and 80’s, after corporal punishment was outlawed in the state constitution, kids were pitted against each other by guards, made to fight. They were hog-tied for long periods of time. They were kept in solitary confinement for weeks and even as recent as 2008, 2009, kids were denied the right to call the state’s abuse line. They were occasionally punched and kicked by guards. They were neglected. Kids with medical issues and mental health issues were not properly cared for according to a recent class-action lawsuit filed against the school. Why did it stay secret? You can argue that it didn’t. There’s been plenty of newspaper reporters and magazine reporters who have showed up on that campus and done stories about the conditions in which these kids were kept. At one point Dozier was the largest reform school in the country. So, considering that, I think the issue is it’s very easy for the general public to ignore the plight of juvenile delinquency and to simply overlook kids who have committed a crime. Even a crime as minor as truancy or incorrigibility should be treated with respect and dignity and should be reformed as opposed to imprisoned and punished. It’s easy to ignore, and I think Florida citizens bear as much responsibility as the guards in that school.

M: In your article about the boys’ beatings, it says that it “was for their own good” according to the state and the judges who sent them there. The school has also been scrutinized for more than 100 years; how did it slip through the cracks and continue to operate until 2011?

BM: There was much written about this, but I think we have short attention spans as well, so it’s easy to do a big story and stay away from the place and let it go back into darkness without the purifying light of public scrutiny. There’s another point to be made and that is for a long time a lot of strong politicians that have came out of Jackson County [where Marianna is located], and this was a facility that employed more than 300 people at times. It’s a small community, Marianna. It’s a rural county, Jackson County and this was a source for steady jobs for more than a century and so I think over the years it has been comfortably lived under the umbrella of political protection even in the face of horrible scandal.

M: What was the “white house” mentioned in your articles and others? How did the name come about?

BM: There are different stories about that and it’s all folklore at this point. Some of the boys remember hearing that it used to be an ice cream factory or a cold-storage freezer. The way the thing is built that wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m not sure that there’s any validity in that. I do know that some of the boys called it the ice cream factory and it’s where you would go to get ‘whipped’ like ice cream. As for the origin of the name ‘the white house,’ it’s been painted white [the cinder block building where boys were tortured]. I have yet to hear a solid explanation of where that came from. It just seems like all of the men who came to the school and heard it referred to as the white house. Another common colloquialism is “you’re going down” which means you’re making a trip to the white house, so it’s unanswered a little bit.

M: What do you know about the one-armed man, Troy Tidwell?

BM: A lot of the men remember having been beaten by a handful of guards. Mr. Hatten was an administrator at the school for a while. But I’ll tell you this, the majority of them remember having been beaten by the one-armed man, Troy Tidwell, and maybe he stands out in their mind because of his disability. This is a man who is still alive the last I heard and he still lives there in Mariana. He was made to give a deposition in a civil case that was brought by the white house boys against him and the state and the others. He testified for several hours and was asked specifically if he abused any of the boys and he denied it. He said he never gave a boy more than 10-15 licks and he illustrated for the attorneys how he gave paddlings. The best to explain this is to basically say that he gave them very light strokes. He reenacted something that you would hit your dog harder than that perhaps, so he denied that having abused anybody. Obviously, for the men this did nothing but anger them. In their eyes he is a barbarian and many of them told me that it almost seemed as if he did it for pleasure rather than to try to discipline the boys. He actually got some sort of sadistic kick out of enforcing punishment. He plead the fifth when it came to the criminal investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement wanted to talk to him and he refused to talk which is his right. In the civil case he gave a deposition that lasted four hours or so. They asked him all sorts of questions about it. He denied having ever inflicted abuse. That case was thrown out of court on a technicality and the 300 plus plaintiffs who claimed they were beaten at the Florida School For Boys [an earlier name Dozier went by] are trying to get the legislature to sign a claims bill which would provide some sort of monetary relief for the men who were abused at the hands of the state. There hasn’t been a claims bill filed this year, but there was one last year. It never made it out of committee, so it’s uncertain whether that legal action will ever be resolved. Sometimes these things take decades. Sometimes they never get anywhere.

M: Did you go into the white house when it was opened two weeks ago to the public? If so, what was your experience like?

BM: Yes. It’s a spooky place. I don’t think there were any smiles inside there. I’ve heard stories about that went on for years and this was the first time I went in and I got to say it’s pretty haunting to know what happened there and to be in this dank, musty, old, building. Most of the buildings on that campus have a similar feel. It wasn’t a happy place. I don’t think even Troy Tidwell would tell you it’s a happy place. I talked to one old superintendent there who was maybe the longest running superintendent, Lenox Williams. I feel like he was being fairly candid. He told me ‘look we were forced to deal with at some points 700 students with a staff of 150 people. Some of these kids were decent kids who got mixed up and others were violent-hardcore criminals and we had to do what we had to do to keep power. We were underfunded, understaffed and it was a recipe for some of the barbarity that we’re hearing about.’ This kind of mistreatment didn’t just happen in the white house. It happened in isolation, where in the late 70’s, a child advocate named Jack Levine showed up and found a boy who had no idea how long he’d been locked in a solitary cell. [The boy] pulled his hair out, he was made to urinate and defecate in a bucket. The guard who let Jack visit with this kid had to whack the rusty lock on the door with a Bible in order to get it open. It’s not a good place. The white house is where many of them got a beating that they remembered 50 years later, but it wasn’t limited to that building. … A couple of people were curious about some red streaks on the wall that certainly looked like blood. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] said that they did lab work in there and found no traces of blood. It was enough to convince all the people pretty much who went in that building that it was at least a blood-like substance. There are some etchings on the walls.”

M: What would you say is the most important thing you have learned from covering this story?

BM: Two of the fundamental measures of civilized society is how we treat our children and how we treat our dead and in this case it’s plain to me that we, collectively for 100-plus years, have failed at those two primary obligations and this is why it’s come to a head finally. Maybe we’ve struck a place in our progress where we’re ready to deal with stuff and make amends. Most of us. Some are opposed to this. Some want to leave those dead boys in the ground and leave questions unanswered or say that there are no questions and that everyone died for no reason, nothing suspicious. I think for many of us it’s time to make amends. There have been a lot of people who came out of that place, a state-run institution that should have been governed, should have been ran correctly, and turned to lives of crime. In a more nuanced version men have come out and not known how to carry their emotions, they have carried intense amounts of trauma and have caused other people pain. In a way we all continue to inherit the trauma that came out of that place in terms of crimes they have committed since they were released, in terms of hugs not given, love not shared. I think that’s the lesson: we cannot treat the least members of our society, the juvenile delinquents, as they have been treated at this facility and we all should be vigilant to the extreme about making sure that that kind of thing isn’t happening anywhere in the state, in the country, in the world. That’s a pretty tall order, but that’s the lesson.

Kelly St. Onge can be reached at kelly.stonge@theminaretonline.com

wmbb.com News 13
Jackson County Discusses Dozier School

Posted: Apr 09, 2013 8:03 PM
By Kelsey Peck

The Jackson County Commission has concerns about the investigation into the former Dozier School for Boys.

In response, the state attorney's office sent a representative to Tuesday's meeting  to calm their fears.

"I hope this doesn't get defined or Jackson county or Marianna don't get defined by this," said Florida Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox.

He took to the podium during the Jackson County Commission meeting Tuesday morning to address concerns the county has about Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's petition to exhume bodies at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

"We do this because if there is a problem, it's our problem and we need to address it," said Cox. "This petition is the effort we're making to answer a lot of the questions and to help several families that have expressed a desire to find their family members and be repatriated with the families."

 
The Jackson County Commission filed a motion to intervene a little more than a week ago primarily worried about the cost of the exhumation.
 
"That was my number one concern, as a steward of the taxpayer dollars in Jackson county," said Commissioner Jeremy Branch.
 
Cox told the board Tuesday the county would not be responsible for such funding.

We are not seeking nor will we ever ask Jackson County to put money towards this effort," said Cox. "To repeat myself, this is a state issue."
 
Money is currently being sought through the legislature to help fund the exhumation and medical examination of the bodies.
 
Meanwhile, the commission is still concerned with family members of those who have loved ones buried at the school.

"He said they were endeavoring of family members of all those involved," said Commissioner Branch. "When I pressed him for some members, he [Nick Cox] said they contacted eight out of at least 50 or more."
 
Branch says the county is still interested in being a part of this court decision.
 
Another group on Tuesday voiced their concern they wanted to too, but didn't share the same concerns as the commission.
 
"Let's get closure," said Dale Landry with the Northwest Florida region of the NAACP. "This it not to define Jackson County, but to define a period, and an era where there were some things to happen."
 
The NAACP plans to file a amicus brief on Tuesday.
 
Meanwhile, the motion to intervene by the commission is still pending. The petition by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to exhume bodies is also awaiting a ruling.
 

wjhg.com Panama City

Dozier Conversations Turn Tense

Marianna- Jackson County officials have been concerned local taxpayers will have to pay for the exhumations at Dozier School for Boys. The county attempted to block the plans with a court injunction.

State officials believe the campus' unmarked grave may sites contain the remains of students killed by staff members. Statewide Prosecutor Nicholas Cox tried to assure commissioners during Tuesday's meeting the county will not be held liable.

"We are not seeking, nor will we ever ask Jackson county to put money toward this effort" Nicholas Cox said. "[Dozier] was state property, it was a state facility, it was operated by the state for over well 100 years. So if there are any issues that need to be dealt with, we need to be stepping up and dealing with them- 'we' being the state."

The project received support from local NAACP officials. North Florida Regional Vice President, Dale Landry approached the board along side several others and said, "I've only been to one other place in my life that was like that building- the White House- and that was when I went to Germany and went to Dachau" Landry said.

Comparing Dozier to a Nazi concentration camp didn't sit well with many in the audience, including local historian, Dale Cox.

"Six million people died in the Holocaust" Cox said. "And I think comparing anything we know about today to that I think is insulting. It's insulting to [Jackson County residents], its insulting to the Jewish community and it's a travesty to history."

Cox has claimed the unmarked graves contain the remains boys who died during a flu epidemic and a fire, or they contained the remains of animals.

But the state has maintained no one could really know what was under the ground, until the exhumations took place.

The state senate has been trying to appropriate $200,000 for a University of South Florida professor to conduct the Dozier search. The professor has also been working on an application for a US Department of Justice grant.

 

wmbb.com
Panama City

Dozier Permit Probe by Marianna Police Department Closed

Posted: Apr 08, 2013 11:52 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 09, 2013 5:43 PM EDT

 
Baggett met with State Attorney Glenn Hess Tuesday afternoon and turned everything over to his agency for review.

 
Baggett says his agency was looking into the matter at the request of Dale Cox, a Jackson County Historian. Baggett says Cox feels USF over stepped the boundary of their archaeological permit and may have violated Florida Statutes.
 
Baggett says he's obtained a copy of the permit and spoken with the Bureau of Archeological Research (BAR). Baggett says BAR representatives tell him there was nothing done that was out of the scope of the permit.

The research findings prompted a new probe by the State Attorney General that will include exhumation of graves by the medical examiner. USF declined to comment at this juncture.

 

Dozier school survivor wants state held accountable

By Josh Gauntt, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 

Goewey is a member of the White House Boys and said he was beaten nearly to a pulp at the old Dozier School for Boys in Marianna in the late 1950's and 60's.

Goewey was sent there in his teens. He's now in his late 60's and living in St. Petersburg.

Goewey said the nightmares of what allegedly happened inside a white house on the school's property still haunts him.

"It was so bad. You'd go in and just have to wait in line to lay down on the bed to be beaten," Goewey said as tears were flowing down his face. "You'd just try and keep quiet and get your body out of there."

Dozens of graves have been uncovered at Boot Hill Cemetery near the school.

Experts with USF suggest boys might have been beaten to death.

Goewey believes without a shadow of doubt that happened.

Now lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, are trying to come up with money to continue trying to solve the mystery.

"I want to see the state of Florida be held accountable," Goewey said.

Goewey has had his own struggles since Dozier.

According to court records, he's been arrested nearly 40 times for alcohol and drug charges. He even spent time in prison. But since 2005, Goewey said he's been clean.

Goewey's not necessarily blaming his alleged abuse at Dozier on his mistakes though.

"But I think it's a real, darn good contributing factor to it," Goewey said.

Goewey is hoping lawmakers get the survivors of Dozier help too. Goewey said a formal apology would be a start

ABC ACTION NEWS
3-29-13
By: Carson Chambers

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. - Bill Nelson has been a boat captain most of his life. "I made a good life for myself. I picked myself up and kept on going," he said.

He's also a survivor of Florida's dark past. "It's wrong what they did to us up there," he said.

Nelson is speaking out for the first time about the two-and-a-half years he spent at the Dozier School for Boys. Just a skinny 11-year old, he was sent away for a crime he was later exonerated of.

"I was raped over there as a kid, and there were several boys raped. Anything we spoke out about, we went to the White House," he said.

It's a story many Dozier boys never lived to tell.

"A lot of boys didn't make it. They weren't strong enough to make it," said Nelson.

This week, we were given rare access to the Dozier property in Marianna, Florida.

We walked inside what's known as the White House.

"Sometimes at night you could hear the screams," said Nelson.

It’s a small building where the temperature drops inside and paint peels off the walls and where Nelson remembers being tortured.

"Sometimes you stayed two or three days in chains and they beat you and you know, some of them made it. Some of them didn't," he said.

What do you think happened to them? "Well," said Nelson, "they were beaten to death.

Soon the Dozier graveyard, known as Boot Hill, may become a crime scene.

"We'll work together with the Medical Examiner and do skeletal autopsies basically, which then allows for identification through DNA,” said USF’s Dr. Erin Kimmerle.

USF scientists are preparing for a massive exhumation. They've discovered nearly 50 unmarked graves in the woods using ground-penetrating radar.

"Some of the children here were unnamed. They were unnamed in the records. They will remain unknown," said Dr. Kimmerle.

The state shut down the institution for wayward boys in 2011 after allegations of abuse and suspicious deaths.

Bunk beds and moldy mattresses still haunt empty buildings, just like the past the Captain sailed away from for 30 years.

"I didn't want to say anything because it's personal. But with all the boys that died up there, somebody needs to speak up for them," he said



Read more:
http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_south_pinellas/madeira_beach/dozier-school-for-boys-survivor-speaks-out-for-first-time#ixzz2PXESmQyo

Dozier School for Boys: Florida's effort to exhume school graves is challenged

Posted: 03/29/2013
By: By Rich Phillips CNN

(CNN) -- Florida's effort to reunite families with the remains of their relatives believed to be buried on the grounds of a now-defunct reform school is being challenged by county officials.

Commissioners in Jackson County, Florida, have filed a court motion to thwart the efforts of the state attorney general, who filed a motion earlier this month seeking the excavation of nameless graves on the grounds of the Dozier School for Boys in the Florida panhandle town of Marianna.

It's yet another chapter in the long, sordid past of the reform school. Inmates sent there have told tales of brutal beatings, sexual assaults, murder, and boys who simply disappeared. The graves, marked only by white tubular steel crosses, have been there since the early 1900s.

Even though the graves are on state property, the county objects to the proposed exhumations because it said it has not been determined who will pay for the efforts of the county medical examiner, who would be directing the effort. In its circuit court filing, the county also said that notice has not been made to the family members of those who died.

Glen Varnadoe has been one of the leaders in the effort to have the graves exhumed. He said his father and his uncle were sent to the reform school in 1934 after they allegedly stole a typewriter.

Thirty days later, he said, his uncle, Thomas Varnadoe, was buried on school property.

Glen said his father told him that they were regularly beaten during their time at the school. One night, his father said, he was awakened by guards who brought him to a freshly dug grave site in the woods, where school administrators told him that his brother had just been buried. He was only told that his brother died from pneumonia.

Varnadoe said he simply wants his uncle's remains so he can bury him properly. And he said he is willing to file a civil action against Jackson County to make that happen.

"I'm angry and I'm aggravated," Varnadoe said. "I think they're going to be in for a tough fight."

"Look how they buried these people," he said angrily. "If they want me to go away, then point me to Thomas Varnadoe's grave and I'll have him disinterred and moved and I'll leave these people alone."

CNN's calls to the Jackson County Commission went unanswered.

For years, stories and allegations of beatings, torture and murder have surrounded the century-old school. State authorities have said in the past that there were 31 burial sites at the school, and a 2009 state investigation found no wrongdoing in connection with those deaths.

The case of the unnamed, unmarked graves has gotten a large amount of public attention in recent months, after a research project by the University of South Florida uncovered evidence that about 50 bodies are buried beneath and around the 31 crosses that make up the cemetery in the middle of the woods on the school's property.

In the wake of the university's findings, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, asked the Department of Justice to investigate. Earlier this week, Nelson toured the cemetery site.

"This is something that may be another part of our sordid past. This place was set up in the early 1900s and it was a different era back then when it came to civil rights," Nelson said.

The mystery surrounding the graves first made headlines in 2008 when Florida's then-governor, Charlie Crist, ordered an investigation after a group of men, known as "the White House Boys," came forward with stories of how they were beaten with leather straps by school administrators inside a small, white building on school property.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's 2009 report said most of the 31 boys known to have been buried in the school's cemetery were killed in a 1914 fire at the facility, while others died in a 1918 flu outbreak.

At the time, the law enforcement agency said it could not determine where another 50 boys -- who it said died at the school as a result of illnesses or accidents -- were buried, blaming poorly kept school records. FDLE closed the case due to the lack of evidence that anyone had died as a result of criminal conduct, and no charges were filed.

Investigators say the records do not explain why the boys were buried on school property in the first place. The boys who attended the school were considered "young offenders" of state law and were placed in the school in order to be "separated from older more vicious associates," according to the 2009 report citing the Florida Children's Commission of 1953.

Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice closed the school in 2011, blaming budget cuts.

Glen Varnadoe is quite happy that the school is closed. He said he's spent a considerable amount of his own money trying to have the remains of his uncle returned to him and his family.

"I don't know why you'd want to try to prevent anyone from returning a loved one after having been buried the way they have been buried," he said. "You tell me what their motive is."

Nelson ushers new attention and money to quest for answers at Dozier

MARIANNA — After Willie Morris served his time at the Florida School for Boys in 1962, the 16-year-old got a job in Orlando and started tucking away folding money. Then he bought a .32-caliber pistol and a Greyhound ticket back to this little Panhandle town so he could take revenge on the state employee who beat him.

"It was a whole 'nother world up there," said Morris, 66 now, who learned his abuser was dead of a heart attack before he boarded the bus. "It was an angry world, a vengeful world. It was a field day for them to beat you."

Morris, and other former state wards beaten and neglected at Florida's longest-running reform school, feel they're closer than ever to some level of justice, to letting the world know what they experienced at the state-run facility, which housed troubled kids from 1900 to 2011. That's thanks to renewed attention U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has brought to the shuttered 1,400-acre Dozier campus and a clandestine cemetery on the property.

Nelson led state officials and dozens of reporters on a tour Wednesday morning, showing a torture chamber called the White House where boys were beaten with a leather strap and pointing out an off-path graveyard where anthropologists from the University of South Florida have identified at least 50 possible unmarked burial shafts. That's 19 more than the FDLE identified during an investigation ordered by former Gov. Charlie Crist.

"Growing up, it was always known that you don't want to misbehave because you don't want to end up at the Marianna boys school," Nelson said, recalling trips through town to visit his grandparents. "Now there are a lot of questions we want answers to."

Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor of anthropology at USF, has been trying to find those answers. Her work prompted Attorney General Pam Bondi and the local medical examiner to seek permission to exhume the bodies of boys buried here, to identify them and determine how they died. Records and testimony show several deaths were suspicious. A judge is expected to decide whether to allow that as early as next week, Nelson said.

"The statute of limitations never runs out on murder," Nelson said.

Glenn Hess, state attorney for the area, said that if forensic evidence suggests a boy was killed, law enforcement would try to determine the circumstances. If the evidence points to a suspect, he'd file charges or present it to a grand jury.

"It's my understanding that there are maybe one or two guards alive and they're so advanced in age that prosecution would be unlikely," he said. "The question is: Can we establish probable cause . . . and determine who's responsible?"

Anthropologists can only guess at the condition of the remains, but forensic science has advanced rapidly in recent years. They're hopeful that they can identify the remains using DNA samples from living relatives. Family members of two boys buried on campus have been urging the state and USF team to identify their kin and relocate the remains to family plots.

Locals say proceeding could be difficult.

"It's a closed community," said Elmore Bryant, 78, area director of the NAACP and a former mayor, who taught school here for 11 years in the 1980s and '90s. "Ain't nobody about to tell you nothing."

Dale Cox, a writer and historian in nearby Two Egg, has argued on his website that a report from the USF team is inaccurate. He also petitioned the Jackson County Commission to intervene, to make sure local taxpayers aren't responsible for the cost of the investigation and to give locals with relatives buried on school property a chance to object to exhumation. Cox would not comment for this story.

Nelson told reporters that the state Senate has suggested covering the cost, and the U.S. Department of Justice has identified some $3 million in grants available for the project.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire," Nelson said. "We need to find out, were there crimes committed, and let's get to the bottom of it."

Wansley Walters, who closed the school when she became secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, agreed.

"This place has haunted many people, including me, for a long, long time," she said, looking around the White House, where boys were beaten so badly they had to pull their underwear out of lacerations.

That people care about what happened here 40 years ago gives Willie Morris a sense of peace. He broke his femur catching a bag of grain in '62 and the doctor in charge called him racial epithets before kicking him and stomping his wounded leg. His brother, Curtis, sentenced to Dozier in the 1970s, says guards kicked his teeth out with cowboy boots and locked him in solitary confinement for three months.

"It wouldn't surprise me if they found kids who died of foul play. We always heard rumors," said Morris, who blames the injury and abuse for three hip replacement surgeries later in life. "I thank God that a lot of us got out of there. I'm just glad that this is coming to light now, that people will know how horrible this place was."

Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.



Scientists prepare to exhume bodies at Dozier School for Boys in the Florida panhandle, Dozier School for Boys survivor Captain Bill Nelson speaks out for first time

Scientists prepare to exhume bodies at Dozier School for Boys in the Florida panhandle 03/27/2013 By Carson Chambers
MARIANNA

….Wards of the defunct Dozier School for Boys, children, are buried in the Marianna, Florida graveyard. Ground-penetrating radar revealed nearly 50 unmarked graves that the state never detected. “Like a sorority or a fraternity, everything was closed-mouth,” said Bryant, talking about his town.

Bryant, 79, grew-up in Marianna with the silence in the woods. He heard the hushed stories of boys who were beaten, tortured, or worse: Disappeared.
He says his town was complicit in keeping these secrets. “Nobody knew anything or was going to tell you anything,” he said.

Bryant tells a story he heard about Dozier boys running away at night. He says a group called the “Dog Boys” would wait for them in the woods.

“The dogs would about tear them to pieces and they would holler and yell,” he says. “How many? What happened to them? Were there crimes committed?” asked U.S. Senator Bill Nelson standing atop Boot Hill on Wednesday.

Now, after nearly a century of quiet, Nelson, University of South Florida researchers and a Tampa Bay family searching to bring their loved one home, may have made enough noise to answer these questions. They are pushing for a massive exhumation of an unknown number of bodies.

“We were uncovering what was clearly grave shafts,” said USF’s Dr. Erin Kimmerle.
Her team of anthropologists have spent months mapping the Boot Hill Cemetery. Their work turned up nearly 20 more graves than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement originally documented. They have asked family members of missing boys for DNA samples to help them identify remains.

“If there were crimes committed, remember the statute of limitations never runs out on murder,” said Senator Nelson.
Now a court order sits on a judge’s desk. A signature would mean the USF team would return to the site to begin work….
http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/state/scientists-prepare-to-exhume-bodies-at-dozier-school-for-boys-in-the-florida-panhandle

Dozier School for Boys survivor Captain Bill Nelson speaks out for first time
Captain Bill Nelson says he was beaten, assaulted
03/29/2013 By Carson Chambers

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. ….Nelson is speaking out for the first time about the two-and-a-half years he spent at the Dozier School for Boys. Just a skinny 11-year old, he was sent away for a crime he was later exonerated of.
“I was raped over there as a kid, and there were several boys raped. Anything we spoke out about, we went to the White House,” he said.

It’s a story many Dozier boys never lived to tell. “A lot of boys didn’t make it. They weren’t strong enough to make it,” said Nelson.

….”Sometimes at night you could hear the screams,” said Nelson.
It’s a small building where the temperature drops inside and paint peels off the walls and where Nelson remembers being tortured.

“Sometimes you stayed two or three days in chains and they beat you and you know, some of them made it. Some of them didn’t,” he said. What do you think happened to them? “Well,” said Nelson, “they were beaten to death. Soon the Dozier graveyard, known as Boot Hill, may become a crime scene.

“We’ll work together with the Medical Examiner and do skeletal autopsies basically, which then allows for identification through DNA,” said USF’s Dr. Erin Kimmerle….

The state shut down the institution for wayward boys in 2011 after allegations of abuse and suspicious deaths….
http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_south_pinellas/madeira_beach/dozier-school-for-boys-survivor-speaks-out-for-first-time

Florida officials push for answers at boys' school graveyard

Reuters

MARIANNA, Florida | Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:19pm EDT

MARIANNA, Florida (Reuters) - Florida officials said on Wednesday they will seek federal money for a forensic investigation into unmarked graves on the grounds of a shuttered state reform school for boys that has been the target of numerous allegations of abuse and mysterious deaths of children.

Dozens of unmarked graves have been uncovered at the Dozier School in the Florida Panhandle city of Marianna and investigators are trying to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths, which experts say probably occurred between 1914 and 1952.

"We really don't know exactly how many, or who they are," said Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at the University of South Florida with a scroll-like map of spots where her ground-piercing radar spotted signs of human remains.

The Dozier School was legend among adolescents for about 100 years in Florida, as the state's major reform school, until it was closed in 2011.

Several years ago, former students told horror stories of sexual abuse and frequent beatings in a mausoleum-like building dubbed the "White House" where nine barren cubicles held boys accused of rules infractions.

Some died under unknown circumstances, according to relatives.

In December, researchers from the University of South Florida in Tampa said they found evidence of at least 50 graves on the school's property and more grave shafts in and around an area called "Boot Hill" across a major highway from the high, razor-wire-topped fences of the closed school.

Kimmerle's work also indicates there could be at least 50 bodies buried on the property.

"All the focus on exact numbers is not really the issue," she said. "Whether it's one or 20 or 40 or 60, we are talking about a child and families that are asking for information."

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and other state officials are seeking a court order to allow the remains to be exhumed.

The U.S. Department of Justice has a program that could provide up to $3 million for forensic sifting of the burial areas, said U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, who toured the site on Wednesday.

A $200,000 appropriation is pending in the state legislature.

Nelson said he wants to find out as much as possible and let relatives know the truth. He noted that "the statute of limitation on murder never runs out," but said there is little chance of prosecuting anyone.

State Attorney Glenn Hess said only one or two employees from the era are known to be alive, and it's unlikely a trial could prove how a boy died or who was responsible.

"The question is, can we establish probable cause that a crime has been committed, and who did it?" he said. "That's the hard part."

Families could ask their legislators to file "claims" bills for civil compensation, if identity could be established from remains and if negligence might be established on the part of the state.

(Editing by Brendan O'Brien, Kevin Gray and Lisa Shumaker)

First look inside Dozier School for Boys white house some call a torture chamber
6:41 AM, Mar 28, 2013
By 
Preston Rudie

 

Former inmates of the Dozier School say the white house is where they were beaten with boards and whips by guards until they were bloodied.
Preston Rudie Video Stories
More Preston Rudie Stories
Marianna, Florida -- For the first time ever, members of the media were allowed inside the infamous white house at the now closed Dozier School for Boys. Former inmates of the school say the white house is where they were beaten with boards and whips by guards until they were bloodied.


Robert Straley of Clearwater says he was beaten inside the building the early 1960's.

On Wednesday, the media toured the building with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson who vowed to find out what really happened at the school.

SEE ALSO: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants the truth about old Dozier School for Boys

University of South Florida anthropologists and archaeologists say they have uncovered 50 grave sites on the campus of Dozier, which is 19 more than officially reported.

The researchers also say they have found 98 deaths occurred at the school between 1914 and 1973 which is 17 more than previously stated.

In addition, USF says its identified discrepancies in records of the cause and manner of death reported for several boys.

USF is hoping to exhume bodies at the school to get an accurate count on how many boys are buried at Dozier, but researchers need a judge's approval first.

More stories on the Dozier School for Boys:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants the truth about old Dozier School for Boys 
 5:36 PM, Mar 27, 2013
by Dave Heller WTSP
 


Tallahassee, Florida - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says it's finally time to get to the truth about the mysterious deaths that happened at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

Nelson is trying to secure grant money from the U.S. Department of Justice to help University of South Florida scientists in their effort to exhume bodies from the old reform school, which shut down in 2011.

The USF researchers discovered nearly 50 unmarked graves on the school's property using ground-penetrating radar and analyzing soil samples. It's believed the property contains the bodies of boys who died there in the 1900's but were never accounted for.

Nelson says he got involved in the case after being contacted by families who lost relatives at the school, including a woman from Lakeland who says her brother died under suspicious circumstances at the school.

Another man, Glen Varnadoe, said his brother died at the school and wants to know the circumstances.

Nelson says he wants the truth to come out so families can finally get closure.

"This just all the more has added fuel to the fire and what I said then was, where there's smoke, there's fire and we need to get to the bottom of it. First of all, you get to the truth. The second thing is you bring a lot of closure for families like Dr. Varnadoe that contacted us in the first place. And thirdly, if crimes were committed we now have the technical and medical capability of determining if crimes were committed so that we could know what happened in a sordid past and make sure it never happens again."

Nelson says the Justice Department operates a grant program for investigations that use DNA to determine if crimes have been committed. He hopes to get some funding to assist USF researchers with their effort to exhume bodies.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is seeking a court order for those exhumations. She says the work could begin as soon as an order is issued.

More stories on the Dozier School for Boys:




WFCN - FIRST COAST NEWS = JACKSONVILL,E FL

March 27, 2013
Associated Press
Nelson seeks money to investigate Dozier School for Boys



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he is seeking part of a $3 million federal grant to help identify buried remains at a defunct boys' reform school in the Florida Panhandle.

The Florida Democrat spoke at a news conference Wednesday. The grant money is meant for exhuming bodies and identifying them through DNA.

University of South Florida anthropologists have previously said they found 50 gravesites on the grounds of the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. The anthropologists say additional research will turn up more gravesites.

Former students have alleged that physical and sexual abuse and even wrongful deaths occurred at the school. It opened in 1900 and closed in 2011.

First look inside 'torture chamber' at Dozier school - USA TODAY - DesMoines Register - WTSP

Members of the media were finally allowed inside the infamous white house at the now closed Dozier School for Boys. Former inmates of the school say the white house is where they were beaten with boards and whipped by guards.

CNN - BOYS GRAVES MIGHT HOLD ANSWERS
The Situation Room
Added on March 27, 2013
A request is now before a judge to exhume the bodies of dozens of boys buried decades ago at a Florida reform school.

Bill Nelson on Dozier School for Boys (Video)
Sen. Bill Nelson: We're Going to Unlock Those Dark Mysteries at Dozier 


Sunshine State News By: Dave Heller 
Posted: March 27, 2013 12:45 PM

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he got involved in the case after being contacted by families who lost relatives at the school, including a woman from Lakeland who says her brother died under suspicious circumstances at the school.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, speaking to the press in Tallahassee Wednesday morning, said it’s finally time to get to the truth about the mysterious deaths that happened at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

Nelson, D-Fla., is trying to secure grant money from the U.S. Department of Justice to help University of South Florida scientists in their effort to exhume bodies from the old reform school, which shut down in 2011.

The USF researchers discovered nearly 50 unmarked graves on the school’s property, using ground-penetrating radar and analyzing soil samples.

It’s believed the property contains the bodies of boys who died there in the 1900s but were never accounted for.
 
Nelson said he got involved in the case after he was contacted by families who lost relatives at the school, including a woman from Lakeland who says her brother died under suspicious circumstances there.

Nelson echoed the words of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, saying he wants the truth to come out so families can finally get closure.

“This just all the more has added fuel to the fire and what I said then was, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”

Asked what the investigation at Dozier can accomplish, Nelson replied, “First of all, you get to the truth. The second thing is, you bring a lot of closure for families like Dr. Varnadoe who contacted us in the first place. And thirdly, if crimes were committed, we now have the technical and medical capability of (finding out) what happened in a sordid past and make sure it never happens again.”

Nelson said the Justice Department operates a grant program for investigations that use DNA to determine if crimes have been committed. He hopes to get some funding to assist USF researchers with their effort to exhume bodies.

Bondi is proceeding as she described earlier in the month, seeking a court order for those exhumations. She says the work could begin as soon as an order is issued. credit: Dave Heller

credit: Dave Heller

 

Nelson ushers new attention and money to quest for answers at Dozier

Nelson ushers new attention and money to quest for answers at Dozier 03/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 11:00pm]

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 Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys
Sen. Nelson, scientists to visit Dozier Wednesday
$3M available for exhuming, identifying missing persons

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:00 pm

Sen. Nelson, scientists to visit Dozier Wednesday ;">U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will accompany a team of anthropologists and law enforcement officials to the now-shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna Wednesday as scientists prepare for exhuming an unknown number of bodies believed to be buried at the site. 

The lawmaker’s office issued a press release Tuesday saying the visit comes along with news he brought Monday from the Department of Justice that there is some $3 million in federal funding available for exhuming and identifying missing persons with DNA.

Over the years, there have been a number of efforts to investigate allegations of abuse at the Dozier school. But not until University of South Florida researchers went there last year and began an exhaustive search – and then drew the backing of the senator – has the case come this close to gathering evidence Nelson’s office says is needed to determine what happened at the school.

“The families of the boys buried in those unmarked graves deserve closure,” Nelson said. “And the only way they’re going to get it is if these remains are recovered and identified.”  

Until now, researcher’s efforts have been limited to examining historical documents, using ground-penetrating radar, and analyzing soil samples taken from the site. Wednesday, they will accompany Nelson on an inspection of the area where they want, as soon as next week, to begin exhuming nearly 50 unmarked gravesites – 19 more than found by state law enforcement during a previous state police investigation.     

Last month, Nelson met in Tampa with the USF scientists conducting the investigation to learn more about their ongoing work. He heard from lead researcher USF Assistant Professor Erin Kimmerle, other scientists on the USF team, families of boys who died at the school and a former resident there who alleged he was abused. 

Nelson’s now going to the Dozier site with USF’s Kimmerle, local medical examiner Dr. Michael Hunter, 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Glenn Hess and other officials from both USF and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.  

First, they’ll examine Boot Hill Cemetery, where Kimmerle’s team plans to begin exhuming bodies. Then, they’ll head to an area near what’s known as the White House, where former reform school residents have alleged they were beaten and sexually abused.      

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has sought a pending court order to bring in the medical examiner’s office. 

Two big issues for the forensic team to date have been time and money. Now that they have permission to continue their probe, word also has come about a possible new avenue to obtain funding.  

In a letter from Holder’s Justice Department to Nelson last Friday, officials said there is some $3 million available for between two and four investigations that would involve the use of DNA to identify missing people, and the federal agency encouraged USF to pursue additional information on applying for a grant under that program by May 6.

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Boys' graves might hold answers

The Situation Room - CNN
Added on March 27, 2013

A request is now before a judge to exhume the bodies of dozens of boys buried decades ago at a Florida reform school.

NEWS CHANNEL 5 - WPTV

Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys: Funding sought to exhume unmarked graves at site of defunct school
xwfts_20130327105318_JPG

Florida senators are pushing for an additional $200,000 in state funding to inspect the site of now-defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys where an untold number of bodies were buried.
Photographer: Courtesy: WFTs



Posted: 03/27/2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - (AP) -- Florida Senators are pushing for an additional $200,000 in state funding to inspect the site of a now-defunct reform school where an untold number of bodies were buried.

Sen. Kelli Stargel said Monday that providing the funding is "the right thing to do" and could give closure for families that lost loved ones buried in a cemetery at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

The Panhandle school at Marianna was closed in 2011, largely for budget reasons.

Stargel, R-Lakeland, says the Senate has recommended the funding.

Stargel says the funding would back an inspection by University of South Florida researchers who have been using ground-penetrating radar and test excavations to locate and identify gravesites.

Officials believe there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died.



Read more: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/state/arthur-g-dozier-school-for-boys-funding-sought-to-exhume-unmarked-graves-at-site-of-defunct-school#ixzz2OrWzuXHO
FLORIDA SENATE PRESS RELEASE DATED 3-25-2013

Senator Kelli Stargel, District 15 — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Florida Senate Recommends Funding for Continued Research of Dozier Site

Tallahassee, FL, March 26, 2013—Today, Senator Kelli Stargel, (R-Lakeland), is pleased to announce that the Senate has recommended an additional $200,000 of funding for the University of South Florida to do research at the former Dozier School for Boys. "This funding is crucial to helping USF analyze the cemetery at the former school. This the right thing to do, so that we may provide some form of closure for the family members who tragically lost loved ones at this site," said Stargel.

The school in Marianna was founded in 1900 and operated until 2011 when it was formally closed. Recent investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in partnership with the Office of the Attorney General have begun to address some of the mystery surrounding the campus and many alleged deaths. The University of South Florida has been using ground-penetrating radar, test excavations, and other techniques for a thorough inspection of the property to locate and identify gravesites.

As more questions continue to be raised at this site, the Florida Senate has made a commitment to ensuring this project has funding support," stated Senator Stargel. "My constituent, Glen Varnadoe, brought this to my attention and has been a generous advocate for those victims who can no longer speak for themselves. I am honored to have him as a constituent and am committed to ensuring we provide this support."

School's unmarked child graves might be exhumed 



Published on Mar 27, 2013

A request is now before a judge to exhume the bodies of dozens of boys buried decades ago at a Florida reform school. For more CNN videos, visit our site at http://www.cnn.com/video

 

 

 


Senators push for state funding to inspect Dozier school property

Updated: Tuesday, March 26 2013, 12:34 PM EDT

MARIANNA -- New details on the investigation into those graves at the former Dozier Boys Reform School in Marianna.

Florida senators are pushing for an additional $200,000 in state funding to inspect the property.

The money would help University of South Florida researchers who have been using ground-penetrating radar and test excavations to locate and identify gravesites.

Officials believe there could be more bodies of boys who died.
Lawmakers in support of the funding say it would give closure for families that lost loved ones.
                                  ---------------------------------------------------------
miami herald blog
March 26, 2013
Senate budget includes money for Dozier probe

The Senate's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes $200,000 to help University of South Florida researchers continue to look for forgotten graves at a former state-run reform school. Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the money will help investigators continue to identify gravesites on the grounds of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
 
“This funding is crucial to helping USF analyze the cemetery at the former school," Stargel said via a news release. "This the right thing to do, so that we may provide some form of closure for the family members who tragically lost loved ones at this site."
 
The Florida House also said it will fully fund USF's request, which was for $190,000. And U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has identified a federal grant program that could also assist with the Dozier investigation.
 
The federal program, run by the Department of Justice, allocates up to $3 million to universities and non-profit organizations that wish to exhume bodies and identify missing people using DNA technology.
 
Earlier this month, Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a court petition asking for permission to allow a medical examiner to exhume bodies at the site. Read more on the work of the USF researchers here.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/03/senate-budget-includes-money-for-dozier-probe.html#storylink=cpy

 

Dozier School Children Buried Like Animals: Medical Examiner and Florida Attorney General Seek Court Order for Exhumation

By: Kevin Earl Wood, allunited@bellsouth.net

Scores of children’s bodies have been located at the now defunct Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Jackson County, Florida. These “unmarked human burials” have accumulated for about the last one hundred years. These children, or possibly other adults, were buried like animals in holes dug into the earth without ceremony or grave markers sufficient to identify those who were buried in these man-made holes.

The public is asking what caused these deaths and who is buried where? Families have petitioned the State of Florida to have their loved ones remains returned for proper burial by the families.
Bay CommuniUSF Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerlety News has maintained that the medical examiner, Dr. Michael Hunter, for the 14th Judicial Circuit, that includes Jackson County, should get involved and become the “hero”, along with University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle and her team, that will unearth answers as to who is buried at Dozier through DNA testing and determine each cause of death where possible. History demands an answer. Families demand an answer. The State of Florida now demands an answer. Those still living should be held responsible for acts of child torture and murder if the evidence warrants such criminal prosecution after exhumation.

 

See Also Bay Community News Stories: Story 1 Story 2 Story 3 Story 4 Story 5  
USF Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Erin Kimmerle 

Dr. Michael Hunter has now filed a Petition with the Circuit Court in Jackson County to exhume the bodies at the Dozier School for Boys. The petition was filed by the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, on behalf of Dr. Hunter.

(Click Here to Read the Petition).

Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida

The Petition now lies in the hands of Judge William L. Wright in Jackson County for a ruling, Case No. 13-239CA.

One family, Glenn and Richard Varnadoe, are seeking to exhume the body of their loved one, Thomas Varnadoe, Jr. They have obtained a court order in Leon County enjoining the State of Florida from selling the property while the University of South Florida (USF) continues it’s search for Thomas Varnadoe’s remains believed to be buried at Dozier according to his death certificate.

    

Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida

The Varnadoe family attorney, Robert Bolt, Tampa, Florida, met with Attorney General (AG) Pam Bondi on December 19th, 2012, lobbying for AG Bondi to seek a court order for the exhumations on behalf of Dr. Hunter.

“We were extremely pleased with the meeting, the outcome, and gaining the support and assistance of Attorney General Pam Bondi”, says Bolt. 

Also according to Mr. Bolt, “It was the law of the land that there be separate facilities, and also the custom of the South that whites and blacks be buried separately.”

USF researchers, led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, now have the support of the court and the State Archaeologist, Mary Glowacki, to have additional time to search for the “white” graveyard on Dozier School property.

Research so far has been limited to an area known as “Boot Hill” and is Glenn and Richard Varnadoe Seek to Exhume Remains of Thomas Varnadoe, Jr.believed to be the “black” cemetery located on the northern parcel of the school where black inmVarnadoe Family Attorney Robert Boltates were housed. The “white” burials are believed to be on the southern parcel of the school where white inmates were segregated from black inmates.

 

Glenn and Richard Varnadoe Seek to Exhume Remains of Thomas Varnadoe, Jr.

 

Varnadoe Family Attorney Robert Bolt

Whitehouse Boys Organization Attorney Gregory Hoag

Attorney Gregory HoagNumerous families and survivors have united to form the White House Boys Organization. The “White House” was a building on Dozier property where child inmates were taken to be beaten and flogged with about a three foot leather paddle for infractions as minor as walking or spitting on the grass, or attempting to escape the deplorable conditions that existed at Dozier.

The families and survivors are represented through the Masterson Law Group in St. Petersburg, Florida by Attorney Gregory Hoag.

“We are very encouraged to see the Attorney General taking an interest and filing the petition (for exhumation)”, says Mr. Hoag. Watching USF actions to have the support of Pam Bondi is very encouraging to account for the remains of the victims. Pam Bondi getting behind the work that USF is doing is very hopeful.”

Mr. Hoag adds, “Our law firm got involved with the case because it is a travesty and has historical significance. Our clients nor the law firm will stop until justice is done.” 

 White House Boys Organization President Jerry Cooper
White House Boys President Jerry Cooper

Jerry Cooper is a Dozier White House flogging survivor and is President of the White House Boys Organization. Mr. Cooper is elated at the filing of the Petition.

“Greatest event that we’ve had happen so far. Hopefully this will bring closure to the families after a long battle. We’d like to thank Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senator Bill Nelson and Dr. Michael Hunter for their support and making this happen. We are, however, still waiting for a formal apology from the state of Florida”, says Cooper.

During several interviews with Bay Community News over the past few months Mr. Cooper has shared the pains of the memories and recurrent dreams of the abuses he suffered at Dozier that linger as emotional and physical scars.

Cooper, among other White House families and survivors, are understandably obsessed with exposing the truth of the abhorrent conditions at Dozier and the torture child inmates suffered particularly allegedly at the hands of one guard, Troy Tidwell, who is still living in Marianna, Jackson County Florida.

Jerry Cooper Passes Polygraph TestMr. Cooper even volunteered for, and passed, a polygraph test. He challenges Troy Tidwell to do the same who is accused by several of the White House Boys to be the principle abuser of children at Dozier and implicated in the deaths of one or more children at Dozier.

Cooper has tried without success to get State Attorney Glenn Hess to investigate the death of Edgar Elton who was allegedly forced by Tidwell to participate in an illegal summer football practice and died as a result. Bay Community News has been unable to get any comments from Mr. Hess or his office on the Elton case. Records of Cooper’s contacts with Hess’s office are missing according to David Angier, public spokesperson for Mr. Hess.

 

 
Jerry Cooper Passes Polygraph Test

Jerry Cooper and Wife Babbs Cooper

The wives of the WhiJerry Cooper and Wife Babbs Cooperte House boys say they suffer too. Cooper’s wife Babbs has learned to deal with him with love, and support Cooper as he tries to bring justice not only for himself but for other White House boys and families.

Cooper is an American enigma. Not only is he respected for his leadership of the White House Boys Organization but is as well respected for his musical talents. He is best known for his publication of a music video entitled “Code of Honor”, that can be viewed on YouTube. He adds that this “Code of Honor” was missing from Dozier.

Cooper’s primary wish is that he, and other White House survivors, live long enough to see justice prevail in the Dozier case and that Troy Tidwell be held accountable under the law.

Cooper hopes that between the U.S. Department of Justice, that is currently reviewing the Dozier case at the request of Florida Senator Bill Nelson, will, in addition to USF and Dr. Hunter’s efforts, lead to the prosecution of those responsible. The investigation now being done by USF and Dr. Hunter should have been done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney Glenn Hess years ago.

 

TO read the Petition to Exhume Click HERE .

YouTube Video with Pam Bondi discussing Exhuming bodies at Dozier

   
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STATE LOOKING INTO DOZIER SCHOOL'S ABUSIVE HISTORY
ABC NEWS

By George Solis, Reporter
Posted: Mar 12, 2013 11:07 PM


Many call it a dark chapter in Florida history. Those who attended the former Dozier School for Boys say the real truth is just now being uncovered...found in unmarked graves.
 
Witnesses tell us they saw administrators beat boys severely, and then, afterward, they never saw those boys again.

Tonight, there's a state push to bring closure for families and victims, but that push also raises questions for those who graduated from that same school.
 
A petition signed today by State Attorney General Pam Bondi could be the ticket that will dig deeper into the place of unmarked graves.
 
After years of silence, one survivor, who now lives in Lee County, is sharing only with us what he witnessed.
More than 50 years later, Jerry Cooper recalls his first steps onto the grounds of what was then called the Florida Schools for Boys.
 
"It looked very clean; it looked like everything was orderly. This looked like a place you could stay awhile," Cooper said.
 
At just 15 years old, the reality immediately hit.

Within three days you knew better," Cooper said.

Cooper is one of the surviving members of a group of men called the "White House Boys."
 
The men take their name in part from the school's most horrifying feature--a white building where they were abused by those who were supposed to be helping them.
 
"That first strike, when it came, down it lifted me off that bed a foot and there's no springs on there I mean it lifted me up there a foot and I thought, 'My God this can't be happening,'" Cooper said.

For years, Cooper ignored the abuse. Today he's one of more than 300 men who spent years at what they call the "White House."
 
"I was really bleeding there was blood on the floor, I was covered in blood," Cooper said.

Cooper took the repeated beatings, the brutality, but he says others couldn't. In recent years, Southern Florida researchers found what he had finally spoken about. They discovered ozens of unmarked graves, those who died in the care of the Florida School for Boys.

It's just an impossibility, with that many years of beatings, that some of those kids made it out of that White House," Cooper said.
 
Tonight, the main focus is the state's Boot Hill Cemetery, that's where researchers found the unmarked graves of young boys--quite possibly the bodies of those never reported dead.
 
The state's attorney general wants the remains exhumed.
 
"There is a cloud of mystery surrounding what happened at that school and these families need closure," Bondi said.
 
Reflecting, Cooper says he turned a blind eye. He hopes the state and others will make things right for his classmates who are dead...and those who are alive.
 
"I want a formal apology from the state and governor for every boy that was taken in that room," he said.
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BONDI WANTS GRAVES OPENED AT DOZIER TO EXPLAIN MYSTERIOIUS DEATHS
by Ben Montgomery, Tampabay Times Staff Writer
March 12, 2013

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times (2009)  In the woods not far from the Dozier School for Boys, there is a cemetery that also holds at least 31 unmarked graves. Some think the bodies of boys killed by guards are buried there.

Try as he might, Buddy Somnitz can't forget what he saw in 1963 at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna. He was standing on a loading dock, watching a boy about his age try to hide in a field next to the reform school campus. Then he saw a Jeep full of men race across the field toward the boy. One of the men in the Jeep swung a rifle full-force and caught the boy under the chin. The blow, Somnitz remembers, peeled the skin off the boy's face, from his chin to his eyebrows.
 
"I'm not positive he was dead," said Somnitz, 66, of Panama City, 50 years after he escaped from Florida's longest-running reform school. "If he wasn't, he was within inches of it. They dadgum near knocked his head off."
 
Stories like that — and there are many — haunt the men who were confined to the Panhandle campus for all manner of juvenile crime. That's why they're encouraged to hear that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has petitioned a judge to allow a Panhandle medical examiner the right to exhume human remains at the school, known recently as the Dozier School for Boys.
 
Bondi's office on Tuesday filed a petition on behalf of Dr. Michael Hunter to allow him to investigate clandestine graves for up to a year. The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas, where there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted for bodies of boys who died at the school. The Department of Juvenile Justice closed the school in 2011.

 
"The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site," Bondi said in a prepared statement. "I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones."
 
Forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida have been using ground penetrating radar to map the forgotten burial grounds. They've identified 50 possible graves; previous investigations found just 31. They also identified nearly 100 deaths that occurred at the school, using state records. Erin Kimmerle, who has led USF's work, believes there may be another unmarked cemetery on the south side of the campus. She has asked the state to fund ongoing efforts to find all the graves and to identify the remains.
 
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is also pushing for a thorough investigation.

 
"For the sake of those who died and the family members still living, we've got to find out what happened at that school," he wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in December.
 
Relatives of two boys who died in state custody have been urging lawmakers to allow further investigation to determine where the boys are buried and how they died. Both families are skeptical of the official cause of death provided by the school and local authorities.
 
Ovell Krell, a former Lakeland police officer whose brother, Owen Smith, died in 1941, said she heard from another juvenile inmate that men were shooting at her brother as he tried to escape. Jackson County newspapers reported that Smith's remains were found under a house in Marianna, and that no cause of death could be determined because of decomposition. Krell can't understand how her 14-year-old brother would just crawl under a house and die.
 
"We want to help them find closure," Bondi told the Tampa Bay Times last week.
 
Buddy Somnitz is convinced that investigators will find signs of foul play if they're allowed to exhume the remains on campus.
 
"I think they're going to find boys that were beaten to death," he said. "I don't think they're going to find many who died of natural causes."
 
When he escaped in 1963 after several severe beatings in a dank, concrete block building called the White House, Somnitz, ran as far as he could down a dirt road in his pajamas and bare feet. When he saw the guards coming, he ducked into a hole in a briar patch and covered himself with leaves. When the men came with bloodhounds, they fired shots into the briars, he said, but couldn't find him in the dark.
 
"I was really lucky to get away," he said. "They did their best to put me in the ground, but they didn't make it."

 
Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.

Related News/Archive 
Funding needed to continue search for hidden graves at Dozier  1 Month Ago 
Researchers find more graves at Dozier than state said existed 5 Months Ago
Suit alleges former Dozier school abused three boys More than a Year ago 
USF report reveals more deaths and graves at Dozier than state admitted 3 Months Ago

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NEWS CHANNEL 8 WFLA TAMPA

Pam Bondi filed petition for Dozier School cemetery exhumation

 Posted: Mar 12, 2013 1:38 PM EDT

By Galina Tishchenko - email  

A team of University of South Florida anthropologists will working to detail the number and locations of graves at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

TALLAHASSEE -
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office filed a petition to get a court order for exhumation of human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. The site of "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas is believed to have many unmarked graves of students at Dozier who died between 1900 and 1952.
 
The petition was signed on behalf of Dr. Michael Hunter, the appointed Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth District of Florida. Bondi said she would do anything in her power to support the investigation of the unexplained deaths and "bring closure to the families who lost loved ones."
 
"The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site," Bondi said.
 
Senator Bill Nelson publicly supported the investigation into the deaths of Dozier students.
 
"This is a critical step forward to bring closure to the families," he said about the petition. "I commend Attorney General Pam Bondi." 
 
Dozier School for Boys known as a reform school or Florida School for Boys closed in 2011 after more than a hundred years of operation. Former Dozier students told us severe beatings were the form of punishment there.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement and University of South Florida researchers found dozens of graves with students' remains on the school property. USF researchers said there would be more.

If exhumation is ordered, the medical examiner's office would be able to identify those remains and conduct complete autopsies to determine cause of death for the students buried on the site.
 
Bondi in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection also supported a 150-day extension of an injunction barring the sale of the state-owned land the cemetery is located on.

RELATED
More on this
--------------------------------  --  
MIAMI HERALD BLOG
State petitions to exhume bodies at Dozier
University of South Florida researchers
searching for the forgotten graves of former inmates at the Dozier School for Boys could receive additional help from the state. Attorney General Pam Bondi announced today that she filed a petition on behalf of Medical Examiner Michael Hunter that would give him a year to dig up the remains recovered at the former reform school in Marianna. Although the USF archaelogists are still involved, because some remains may not yet be 75 years old the Medical Examiner's Office is required by state law to intervene but needs a court order. In addition to seeking authorization to exhume bodies, Bondi is supporting efforts to slow down the planned sale of the state-owned land by extending the current injunction another 150 days. Bondi's petition was filed in the 14th Circuit Court, which includes Marianna. Here is Bondi's full press release: Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office today filed a petition on behalf of Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter to allow him to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. for up to one year. The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted for bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school. The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.”

The exhumation would be conducted in order to locate unidentified graves and human remains and to conduct complete autopsies and medical investigations to determine the cause of death of the boys.

Dr. Michael Hunter is the appointed Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth District of Florida.

In addition to filing the petition on behalf of the Medical Examiner to exhume bodies, Attorney General Bondi has also supported investigative efforts by working with the Department of Environmental Protection to support a 150-day extension of an injunction barring the sale of the state-owned land.


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/03/state-petitions-to-exhume-bodies-at-dozier.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#storylink=cpy

Click to Download Dozier Petition. Or click this: dozier-petition to exhume.pdf
4.2 MB

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MY FOX TAMPA BAY

Bondi seeks court order to exhume bodies from Dozier site

Posted: Mar 12, 2013 3:32 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE (AP)
 -

  click arrow on video to the left to view.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a petition that would allow authorities to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys at Marianna.

Bondi's office filed a petition Tuesday on behalf of the appointed medical examiner for the 14th District of Florida. The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.

Autopsies and medical investigations would be conducted on the remains to determine the cause of death.

Bondi says those deaths at the school remain cloaked in mystery and that surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site, 60 miles northwest of Tallahassee.

"It's so important to these families. We know that atrocities occurred at the Dozier School for Boys back in the early 1900's and many of these families need closure and it's only fair to them that they are able to hopefully identify their loved ones and get their remains," Bondi said.

She added that pursuing criminal charges is not likely to happen.

"The families realize that at this time because most of the workers there have passed away since then as well as the severe decomposition of the bodies. We don't even believe the bodies were properly embalmed so it's going to be very, very difficult," Bondi said.

The petition is the result of the work of a team of USF researchers that concluded there were probably more bodies on the property than originally found in an FDLE investigation.

"We don't know how many young men were buried there. They were buried in shallow unmarked graves and so this is horrible and it's important for these families to find out if their loved ones are there," Bondi said.

Read more: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/21588985/2013/03/12/bondi-seeks-court-order-to-exhume-bodies-from-dozier-site#ixzz2NNgjTrX6
Follow us: @myfoxtampabay on Twitter | MyFoxTampaBay on Facebook

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Tampa Tribune - tbo.com
By JEROME R. STOCKFISCH|Tribune staff
 Published: March 12, 2013

TALLAHASSEE --
Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a petition seeking to allow a Panhandle medical examiner to exhume bodies at the site of the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
 
The petition filed Tuesday would allow Michael Hunter, medical examiner for the 14th District of Florida, to locate unidentified graves and human remains, and to conduct investigations to determine the causes of death for the boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.
 
Forensics researchers from the University of South Florida have been conducting field work at the site, chiefly through ground-penetrating radar and soil analysis. The group, led by USF anthropology professor Erin Kimmerle, found in December that a previously documented cemetery contained at least 50 graves, higher than a state estimate of 31 graves, and that a second cemetery is likely to exist.
 
"We are gratified that the exhumation order has been filed," Kimmerle said in a statement. "We're certain that the families and relatives of the boys who are buried at the reform school are thankful that the State of Florida is taking a proactive role."
 
If the petition is granted, Kimmerle's team will help with the work, which could take about a year for the exhumations, autopsies, DNA testing, analysis and reporting. USF plans to contribute financially as well.  
 
Dozier has been the subject of investigations into abuse allegations and suspicious deaths since a group of previous residents began discussing and sharing each others' experiences. Some formed a group called the White House Boys, named for a cottage on the school property they say was the site of brutal beatings. The men also maintain that many boys went missing under suspicious circumstances.
 
Former Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation of Dozier in 2009, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded that there had been no foul play and that the 31 graves contained the bodies of 29 boys and two adults who had been accounted for.
 
"The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site," Bondi said in a statement Tuesday. "I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones."
 
Bondi's petition, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, seeks a judge's order supporting the exhumations. Bondi said she is also working with the state Department of Environmental Protection to extend an injunction preventing the sale of the state-owned land.
---------------------------------------------------
BAY NEWS 9 - March 12, 2013  
By Laurie Davison, Reporter
Pam Bondi files petition for Dozier exhumation  

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office has filed a petition to allow a Medical Examiner to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna

CLEARWATER
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office has filed a petition to allow a Medical Examiner to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from Boot Hill Cemetery and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted for bodies of boys who died at the school. "The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site," said Bondi. "I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones."

Sixty-six-year-old Robert Straley of Clearwater is still trying to come to terms with what happened to him when he was just 13 years old. Straley was sent to the Dozier School for running away.

"It was so beautiful. That place was like a college campus. Big pine trees everywhere and neatly trimmed cottages. It looked very nice. It was just a beautiful hell,” said Straley.

Straley said he was taken to a place the guards called "The White House" and beaten three times during his stay.

"Not everybody that went into that White House came out alive", he said.

fA team of University of South Florida researchers discovered dozens of shallow graves on the site.

If a judge grants the order, a Medical Examiner will be able to exhume the bodies, work to identify them and determine how they died.

"I'm so looking forward to it,” said Glen Varnadoe of Lakeland.

Varnadoe's uncle died at the school under mysterious circumstances. He said his family has been looking for answers for years. "As soon as they start the exhumations, I would love to be there. I would like nothing better than for my Uncle Thomas to be the first person out because the sooner that happens, the sooner this is over for me,” said Varnadoe.

University of South Florida researchers said they will be part of the exhumation process. "For too many years the plight of these children has been neglected and we are proud that the University of South Florida is able to help," said Erin Kimmerle, Assistant Professor of Anthropology. "We are fully committed to working closely with Attorney General Bondi's office and the medical examiner to finish our research and support the medico-legal death investigation."

In December 2012, the researchers announced they had found evidence of almost 100 deaths and 50 gravesites at the school which is more than previously found by law enforcement.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is also supporting the investigation.

"This is a critical step forward to bring closure to the families", said Nelson.

Nelson is also asking the U.S. Department of Justice to help the USF scientists with funding, if it is not possible to open a federal criminal investigation.

-------------------------------------------------
Attorney General
Pam Bondi
News Release
March 12, 2013

Attorney General Bondi’s Office Files Petition for Medical Examiner to Exhume Bodies at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office today filed a petition on behalf of Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter to allow him to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. for up to one year. The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted for bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.

“The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.”

The exhumation would be conducted in order to locate unidentified graves and human remains and to conduct complete autopsies and medical investigations to determine the cause of death of the boys.

Dr. Michael Hunter is the appointed Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth District of Florida.

In addition to filing the petition on behalf of the Medical Examiner to exhume bodies, Attorney General Bondi has also supported investigative efforts by working with the Department of Environmental Protection to support a 150-day extension of an injunction barring the sale of the state-owned land.
--------------------------------------------------------
ABC 12 FIRST COAST NEWS
3-12-13

Tallahassee, Florida -

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a petition seeking a court order to exhume bodies at the controversial Dozier School for Boys, which closed in 2011.

Bondi says atrocities were committed at the reform school in the 1900's and it's believed the property contains the bodies of boys who died there but were never accounted for.

Bondi's petition asks the court to permit Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter to exhume the bodies and perform autopsies to determine the cause of death of the boys. Former inmates at Dozier School said the guards administered severe beatings and sexually abused boys.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the property several years ago and reported 31 graves were dug there during the first half of the 20th Century. FDLE did not open any graves and concluded there was not enough evidence to support or refute allegations of abuse at the school.

Last year, University of South Florida anthropologist Erin Kimmerle led a team that discovered more graves on the school property.

Bondi says Kimmerle's work, and a family's request, prompted her to pursue a court order to exhume the bodies.

"It's so important to these families. We know that atrocities occurred at the Dozier School for Boys back in the early 1900's and many of these families need closure and it's only fair to them that they are able to hopefully identify their loved ones and get their remains."

Bondi says since so many years have passed since the allegations of abuse, it would be virtually impossible to pursue criminal charges because of the statute of limitations.

"The families realize that at this time, because most of the workers there have passed away since then, as well as the severe decomposition of the bodies. We don't even believe the bodies were properly embalmed so it's going to be very, very difficult. That is not the intent, that is not the purpose. The purpose is there is a cloud of mystery surrounding what happened at that school and these families need closure and they deserve this."

Bondi says it's unclear how many young men were buried there.

"They were buried in shallow unmarked graves and so this is horrible and it's important for these families to find out if their loved ones are there."

Bondi says the work to begin exhuming bodies could begin soon if a court order is issued.

She's also working with the Department of Environmental Protection to prevent the land from being sold in the next five months so the work can proceed
-----------------------------------------------

WJHG.COM

Dig Could Resume At Dozier School For Boys

The battle over bodies at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna is not over.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a petition to allow Dr. Michael Hunter, the Medical Examiner in Panama City, to exhume human remains for up to one year. If the court order is approved, the dig would concentrate on “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died at the school between 1900 and 1952.

“The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” stated Bondi. “I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.”

If any unidentified graves and human remains are located, autopsies would be done to determine the cause of death.

“This is a critical step forward to bring closure to the families,” said Senator Bill Nelson. “I commend Attorney General Pam Bondi.”

A Lakeland, Florida man sent Nelson a letter in October claiming his uncle died at the school years ago under mysterious circumstances. The man, Glen Varnadoe, wants to now find and exhume his uncle’s body.

In January, Nelson announced University of South Florida researchers have received permission to carry-on their investigation of gravesites

The researchers have examined historical documents, used ground-penetrating radar, analyzed soil samples and performed excavations at the site to uncover the 50 unmarked gravesites. That is 19 more than identified in a previous investigation by the FDLE. The researchers also found that more deaths occurred at the school than previously known. They uncovered 98 deaths of boys between ages 6-18 in the years from 1914 through 1973.

A group of former students, who call themselves the White House Boys, say school officials tortured and killed boys in the 1950's and 60's, then buried them in unmarked graves. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the claims several years ago, before the state closed the school for budgetary reasons. But USF researchers say they found more graves than the FDLE during their research last year.

The relative of a student, who died mysteriously at Dozier is suing the state, to prevent the sale of the property.
--------------------------------------------------------

Posted on Tuesday, 03.12.13 
By BRENT KALLESTAD - Associated Press

BONDI WANTS BODIES EXHUMED ON BOYS SCHOOL PROPERTY

Bondi's office filed a petition Tuesday on behalf of Dr. Michael Hunter, the appointed medical examiner for the 14th District of Florida.

She is seeking a court order to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died. The school, formally known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, was closed in 2011, largely for budget purposes.

Bondi said authorities want to locate unidentified graves and human remains and conduct complete autopsies to determine the cause of death. The school, located in Marianna about 60 miles west of Tallahassee, was once the nation's largest reform school with 698 youths.

"Surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site," said Bondi, who noted that many of the school's deaths remain cloaked in mystery.

A team of researchers from the University of South Florida used historical documents to verify the deaths of two adult staff members and 96 children - ranging in age from 6 to 18 - between 1914 and 1973. Records indicated that 45 individuals were buried on the 1,400-acre tract from 1914 to 1952 while 31 bodies were sent elsewhere for burial.

Death certificates and other records, media reports and interviews with former staff members and inmates showed some died from illness and accidents, including a 1914 dormitory fire that claimed the lives of six boys and two staff members who became trapped inside the building.

"For too many years the plight of these children has been neglected," said Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida. "Through this effort we hope the identity of many of these children will become known."

She said it would take approximately a year for the exhumations, autopsies, DNA testing, analysis and reporting to be completed.

The school was plagued by scandal soon after it opened in 1900. Three years later, investigators found children "in irons, just as common criminals."

In the 1950s and early 1960s, boys were taken to a small building called The White House, where guards beat them for offenses as insignificant as singing or talking to a black inmate. The boys would be hit dozens of times - if not more - with a wide, three-foot long leather strap that had sheet metal stuffed in the middle.

In 1968, when corporal punishment was outlawed at state-run institutions, then-Gov. Claude Kirk visited and found the institution in disrepair with leaky ceilings, holes in walls, cramped sleeping quarters, no winter heating and buckets used as toilets.

Bondi also said she supports by the Department of Environmental Protection for a 150-day extension of an injunction that prohibits the sale of the state-owned land.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to help the USF scientists with funding and if that isn't possible, open a federal criminal investigation although criminal prosecution for most of the allegations would be barred by a four-year statute of limitations. However, felonies resulting in death and capital felonies could be prosecuted any time.


Rea

Bondi seeks exhumation of bodies at Dozier school campus
posted by bshaw on March, 12 2013 2:21 PM

Attorney General Pam Bondi has sought a court order that would allow Jackson County’s medical examiner to search for and exhume human remains on the grounds of the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
 
Anthropologists from the University of South Florida, with vocal support from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have uncovered the deaths of 98 boys between ages 6-18 in the years from 1914 through 1973. All are presumed to have been inmates at the “reform school,” with evidence that some were beaten and tortured by staff members at the school.
 
“The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” said Bondi in a statement. “I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.”
 
“This is a critical step forward to bring closure to the families,” said Nelson. “I commend Attorney General Pam Bondi.”
 
Bondi’s petition would allow Dr. Michael Jackson, the district’s medical examiner,  to spend up to one year searching for and exhuming bodies from “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas, where her office said it is believed  there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted-for bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.
 
Allegations that boys detained at the school were beaten and tortured were confirmed in separate investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 2010 and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011, though no charges were brought. The state closed the school permanently in 2011.
 
But probes last year by Dr. Erin Kimmerle and anthropology students from the University of South Florida found many more bodies and grave sites than FDLE had discovered — and Kimmerle has said she believes there are more.
 
Nelson got publicly involved in the controversy in October 2012, after receiving a letter from a Lakeland man, who said his uncle died at the school years ago under “mysterious circumstances.”  The man, Glen R. Varnadoe, wants to now find and exhume his uncle’s body, Nelson’s office said.

d mo

Bondi seeks exhumation of bodies at Dozier school campus
posted by bshaw on March, 12 2013 2:21 PM

Attorney General Pam Bondi has sought a court order that would allow Jackson County’s medical examiner to search for and exhume human remains on the grounds of the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
 
Anthropologists from the University of South Florida, with vocal support from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have uncovered the deaths of 98 boys between ages 6-18 in the years from 1914 through 1973. All are presumed to have been inmates at the “reform school,” with evidence that some were beaten and tortured by staff members at the school.
 
“The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” said Bondi in a statement. “I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.”
 
“This is a critical step forward to bring closure to the families,” said Nelson. “I commend Attorney General Pam Bondi.”
 
Bondi’s petition would allow Dr. Michael Jackson, the district’s medical examiner,  to spend up to one year searching for and exhuming bodies from “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas, where her office said it is believed  there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted-for bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.
 
Allegations that boys detained at the school were beaten and tortured were confirmed in separate investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 2010 and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011, though no charges were brought. The state closed the school permanently in 2011.
 
But probes last year by Dr. Erin Kimmerle and anthropology students from the University of South Florida found many more bodies and grave sites than FDLE had discovered — and Kimmerle has said she believes there are more.
 
Nelson got publicly involved in the controversy in October 2012, after receiving a letter from a Lakeland man, who said his uncle died at the school years ago under “mysterious circumstances.”  The man, Glen R. Varnadoe, wants to now find and exhume his uncle’s body, Nelson’s office said.

re here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/12/3281563/bondi-wants-bodies-exhumed-on.html#storylink=cpy

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ORLANDO SENTINEL 3-12-13


Marianna Graves from WUSF NEWS

February, 2012

USF researchers are using a variety of high and low-tech means to map out a graveyard on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. University Beat on WUSF TV takes you along on a search for answers that can only be found both underground and in the long-buried past.



Marianna Graves

In its lengthy & troubled history, over 80 young men died at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. Many of them were buried on the school grounds, but it’s not known exactly where. This week’s University Beat on WUSF 89.7 looks at how a team of USF researchers is now surveying the site to find the answers and give the boys’ family members the closure that has escaped them for so long. Listen below.

UB_Marianna_Graves_7-2-12.mp3
3.4 MB

Richard Estabrook, the Regional Director for the Florida Public Archaeology Network & a faculty member in the USF Dept. of Archaeology, talks about the importance of small, historic Florida cemeteries like the one university researchers are investigating in Marianna. (video courtesy USF News, edited by Deb Holland)


ABC NEWS CHANNEL 7 - FORT MEYERS - WZVN

March 12, 2013 11:00pm EST


State looking into Dozier School's abusive history

Posted: Mar 12, 2013 11:07 PM EDT

A petition signed today by State Attorney General Pam Bondi could be the ticket that will dig deeper into the place of unmarked graves.
 
After years of silence, one survivor, who now lives in Lee County, is sharing only with us what he witnessed.
 
More than 50 years later, Jerry Cooper recalls his first steps onto the grounds of what was then called the Florida Schools for Boys.
 
"It looked very clean; it looked like everything was orderly. This looked like a place you could stay awhile," Cooper said.
 
At just 15 years old, the reality immediately hit.

"Within three days you knew better," Cooper said.

Cooper is one of the surviving members of a group of men called the "White House Boys."
 
The men take their name in part from the school's most horrifying feature--a white building where they were abused by those who were supposed to be helping them.
 
"That first strike, when it came, down it lifted me off that bed a foot and there's no springs on there I mean it lifted me up there a foot and I thought, 'My God this can't be happening,'" Cooper said.

For years, Cooper ignored the abuse. Today he's one of more than 300 men who spent years at what they call the "White House."
 
"I was really bleeding there was blood on the floor, I was covered in blood," Cooper said.

Cooper took the repeated beatings, the brutality, but he says others couldn't. In recent years, Southern Florida researchers found what he had finally spoken about. They discovered dozens of unmarked graves, those who died in the care of the Florida School for Boys.

"It's just an impossibility, with that many years of beatings, that some of those kids made it out of that White House," Cooper said.
 
Tonight, the main focus is the state's Boot Hill Cemetery, that's where researchers found the unmarked graves of young boys--quite possibly the bodies of those never reported dead.
 
The state's attorney general wants the remains exhumed.
 
"There is a cloud of mystery surrounding what happened at that school and these families need closure," Bondi said.
 
Reflecting, Cooper says he turned a blind eye. He hopes the state and others will make things right for his classmates who are dead...and those who are alive.
 
"I want a formal apology from the state and governor for every boy that was taken in that room," he said.

Many call it a dark chapter in Florida history. Those who attended the former Dozier School for Boys say the real truth is just now being uncovered...found in unmarked graves.

Witnesses tell us they saw administrators beat boys severely, and then, afterward, they never saw those boys again.

Tonight, there's a state push to bring closure for families and victims, but that push also raises questions for those who graduated from that same school.

A petition signed today by State Attorney General Pam Bondi could be the ticket that will dig deeper into the place of unmarked graves.

After years of silence, one survivor, who now lives in Lee County, is sharing only with us what he witnessed.

More than 50 years later, Jerry Cooper recalls his first steps onto the grounds of what was then called the Florida Schools for Boys.

"It looked very clean; it looked like everything was orderly. This looked like a place you could stay awhile," Cooper said.

At just 15 years old, the reality immediately hit.

"Within three days you knew better," Cooper said.

Cooper is one of the surviving members of a group of men called the "White House Boys."

The men take their name in part from the school's most horrifying feature--a white building where they were abused by those who were supposed to be helping them.

"That first strike, when it came, down it lifted me off that bed a foot and there's no springs on there I mean it lifted me up there a foot and I thought, 'My God this can't be happening,'" Cooper said.

For years, Cooper ignored the abuse. Today he's one of more than 300 men who spent years at what they call the "White House."

"I was really bleeding there was blood on the floor, I was covered in blood," Cooper said.

Cooper took the repeated beatings, the brutality, but he says others couldn't. In recent years, Southern Florida researchers found what he had finally spoken about. They discovered dozens of unmarked graves, those who died in the care of the Florida School for Boys.

"It's just an impossibility, with that many years of beatings, that some of those kids made it out of that White House," Cooper said.

Tonight, the main focus is the state's Boot Hill Cemetery, that's where researchers found the unmarked graves of young boys--quite possibly the bodies of those never reported dead.

The state's attorney general wants the remains exhumed.

"There is a cloud of mystery surrounding what happened at that school and these families need closure," Bondi said.

Reflecting, Cooper says he turned a blind eye. He hopes the state and others will make things right for his classmates who are dead...and those who are alive.

"I want a formal apology from the state and governor for every boy that was taken in that room," he said.

WTSP BAY NEWS 10

Reform School Deaths: Attorney General Pam Bondi wants boys' bodies exhumed from Dozier School for Boys
11:24 AM, Mar 13, 2013

 Clearwater, Florida - He was only 13 years old when he went to the Dozier School for Boys in North Florida. It was supposed to be a reform school for boys, nestled among the pines.

But for Robert Straley, it became hell on Earth from the very first night, when he was whisked away in his pajamas to be whipped with a thick leather belt 18 times.

It was in a place nicknamed "the white house." Little boys were beaten so severely, flesh came off their backs, their cries at night were never heard, and the sexual abuse was so vicious, grown men weep when they speak of it.

Straley told 10 News, "He turned on a big industrial fan to make a large racket, but not so much that you couldn't hear the sounds, the slap of the whip, the grunts, the groans, the cries, screams and noises that I never heard from anybody in real time."

Robert Straley still sleeps with one eye open. He's had nightmares for 45 years. He was married for 15 years but says he's struggled with relationships and rage issues after systematic sexual and physical abuse as a child at Dozier.

He described the belt: "It was a double ply, thick leather, about 4 to 5 inches across wooden handle. And the board was worse. Look at that, if that isn't an inch and a half to two inches."

Two years ago, the school closed permanently after more than a century and the allegations of torture and abuse investigated by FDLE. In fact, USF researcher Dr Erin Kimmerlee and her team have found nearly 100 bodies of little boys left behind.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says, "They were buried in shallow unmarked grave and so, this is horrible and it's important for these families if their loved ones are there."

Robert tears up when he talks about this latest initiative by Bondi, who wants the bodies of other boys in unmarked graves exhumed, giving closure to grieving families.

With tears in his eyes, Straley told us, "You know, the exposé of all this is good, because maybe it really wasn't about the abuse to begin with. Maybe it was about getting those boys up and out of the ground and into the light. They're never going to find them all."

More stories on the Dozier School for Boys:

At Boys’ Home, Seeking Graves, and the Reason
As Published in the New York Times, Boston Globe and Hawaii's Star Advisor
Published: February 9, 2013

Meggan Haller for The New York Times

A forensic anthropology team on the grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida, searching for signs of bodies of those who were confined. More Photos »

Looking for Answers and Bodies in the Ground

Nobody is quite sure how most of them died — the cause is often listed as “unknown” or “accident” — or why a great number were buried with such haste.

The scattered graves bear no markings: no names, no loving sentiment. The only hint of a cemetery are the white crosses that the state planted in the 1990s, belatedly and haphazardly.

From the time it opened in 1900, as the state’s first home for wayward children, until it closed in 2011, as a residential center for high-risk youths, Dozier became synonymous with beatings, abuse, forced labor, neglect and, in some cases, death. It survived Congressional hearings, state hearings and state investigations. Each one turned the spotlight on horrific conditions, and little changed.

But now, spurred on by families of the dead boys and scores of former students — now old men — forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida have spent the last year using sophisticated radar equipment to search for answers beneath the 1,400-acre campus.

Decades after some of the worst abuses, former students have come forward to talk of brutal and repeated beatings; the families of some of the dead want dignity for those they lost. The crosses, they say, are an afterthought. They want to know more: where the children are buried and how they died, and whether the deaths were accidental, intentional or simply the result of illness. And they want the bodies brought home.

“What happened, happened, and I am willing to forgive,” said Glen Varnadoe, whose Uncle Thomas was sent to the school in 1934 after he was accused — falsely, the family says — of stealing a typewriter from a neighbor’s yard in Brooksville. Thomas was declared dead of pneumonia a month later. “But I want my uncle’s remains, and I want to return him to his rightful place, next to his mother,” he said. “He was 13. He didn’t do anything but walk across a backyard.”

The anthropology team has focused largely on Boot Hill, which during the segregation era was a documented cemetery on the African-American side of campus. So far, the team has located 50 grave shafts there, 19 more than a 2009 Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation said existed. And with the help of school, state and historical records, they have counted at least 98 deaths dating from 1913 to 1960.

Their search was stymied last year when the state tried to sell the property. But a court order halted that. The team now has permission from the state to keep searching.

“With the possibility of additional graves on the Dozier School property, I asked that the Department of Environmental Protection refrain from selling the land to allow for further research into this very disturbing matter,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Dr. Erin Kimmerle, who is leading the team, said she believed that more boys were probably buried at the school. It is highly unlikely, she said, that black and white children at the school, in northern Florida, would have been laid to rest in the same cemetery before desegregation, which means that white boys, like Thomas Varnadoe, may be buried elsewhere. Documents and witnesses make mention of other burial spots, but none are directly identified.

Some families of the dead want their boys found, exhumed and brought home. The state and the district medical examiner’s office, which can exhume decades-old bodies if the deaths appear suspicious, are still considering whether to grant permission.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire,” Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who also urged the Justice Department to get involved, said at a recent news conference with two families. “I want them exhumed. I want them examined. I want to see if potential crimes were committed.”

Getting to the children, and perhaps the truth of what occurred, has been a hard-fought battle, mostly because decades-old records are contradictory and incomplete.

Page 2 of 2)

“This is what is important: to get some closure in our lives,” said Ovell Krell, 84, whose brother is said to be buried there. In 1941, school officials told her parents that Owen, who was sent to the school for stealing a car, had run away. He was later found dead under a house on a January night, apparently from pneumonia. The family wondered: why would a 14-year-old boy not seek help for days if he was dying of pneumonia?

Multimedia

By the time his parents learned of his death and drove hours to the school, Owen was in the ground. With little money or know-how to do battle, the family simply went home. Their mother never recovered, Mrs. Krell said. Most nights, she sat on the porch, listening for Owen’s whistle.

“If my mother could have been sure that was Owen in that grave, she might have come to terms with it,” Mrs. Krell said. “It was the not knowing. This is the thing that eats people up inside.”

Almost from the moment it opened as the Florida State Reform School, there was a steady stream of reports of abuse, indentured servitude, crowding and neglect. So many children — among them incorrigibles and runaways — were sent to the institution that it became the largest in the country.

Accounts surfaced early on of children as young as 6 chained to walls. Fierce whippings were common. Children were forced to pick crops, make bricks and print paper, all to profit the prison and other businesses, records show. A fire in 1914 killed eight boys who had been locked in a room. Flu epidemics killed others. Some runaways were shot.

The beatings continued well into the 1960s. When Gov. Claude Kirk made a surprise visit in 1968 to inspect the decrepit school, he said, “If one of your kids were kept in such circumstances, you’d be up there with rifles.”

Even when the beatings stopped, abuse continued. The “whips and chains” mentality of the staff, as a former student called it, was deep-rooted. In the 1980s, children at the school said they were hogtied and put in isolation. This led to a 1983 class-action suit, which the state settled. Yet problems persisted.

A highly critical 2011 Justice Department report called the mistreatment of children at the school “systemic, egregious and dangerous.” The school was closed that year for cost-cutting.

In 2008, a group of men who attended the school in the 1950s and ‘60s began to tell harrowing stories to The Miami Herald and The St. Petersburg Times. They called themselves “The White House Boys,” a nod to the small cinder-block building where they say they were viciously flogged for the slightest infraction. The men who say they were abused now number about 300.

Robert Straley, 66, who arrived in 1963, soon after he was caught riding in a car a friend had stolen, said he was beaten his first day. Echoing the stories of the other White House Boys, Mr. Straley said he was taken to the house and was told to lie stomach down on a blood-specked mattress and hold tight to the head rail.

A one-armed guard pummeled him with a leather strap lined with sheet metal, he said. Forty blows tore up his bottom, leaving him bloodied and terrified. Other boys sometimes received as many as 100 blows, he said. An oversize industrial fan roared outside to drown out the sound.

“I thought he was hitting me with a two-by-four,” Mr. Straley said. He was told: “ ‘You could bite the pillow.’ You weren’t supposed to let go. If you did, they would start over. You were allowed to cry but not scream.”

In 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist ordered a state investigation. The inquiry, which acknowledged that it relied in part on incomplete school records, found only 31 grave sites and did not substantiate or refute claims of abuse. It concluded that the 31 deaths were attributable to known causes. The families called it a whitewash. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement defended its report in December, when researchers found more graves.

Now Dr. Kimmerle and her team have brought new hope that the children may finally be honored. “They want the boys brought home,” said Dr. Kimmerle, who has helped locate graves all over the world. “These were not throwaway children.”

Senator Bill Nelson Wants Feds to Probe Florida School

Funding needed to continue search for hidden graves at Dozier

 By Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer
 In Print: Saturday, February 2, 2013

TAMPA — How many dead boys are buried at the state's oldest reform school, and where are their remains located? Those are the questions that continue to baffle the families of the dead and former wards of the Marianna facility.

On Friday, Sen. Bill Nelson called on state officials to allow forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida to continue to search for the clandestine graves of inmates at the reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna. He also asked state legislators to fund the university's mission to locate and exhume the remains, and to determine how the boys died.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire," said Nelson, flanked by the families of two boys who died while imprisoned at the infamous facility, known through the years as the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. "I want them exhumed. I want them examined."

The researchers, led by USF professor Erin Kimmerle, examined one known cemetery using ground-penetrating radar and found at least 50 possible graves, 19 more than Florida Law Enforcement Investigators identified in an earlier investigation.

Kimmerle's team has asked for $160,000 from the state to continue field work. She said researchers are looking for a second cemetery, on the south side of the campus, using ground-penetrating radar. The state has given them permission to search for five more months. She said Attorney General Pam Bondi is supporting the project, along with Dr. Michael Hunter, the medical examiner for the region.

Some of the boys died under mysterious circumstances, including the two boys whose family members joined Nelson for the press conference. Ovell Krell's brother, Owen Smith, 14 at the time he was committed in 1940, was found decomposed under a house in Marianna after reportedly running away. But Krell, 12 at the time, heard from another state ward who saw her brother running across a field as men fired rifles at him.

"At 14 years old, at the end of January, you don't lay down under a house and freeze to death," said Krell, a former Lakeland police officer. "You get help."

Glen Varnadoe's uncle, Thomas, was sent to the school in 1934, at the age of 13. He was healthy when he left home, but he died 35 days later. School records say he died of pneumonia, but Varnadoe doubts that.

"We want to get to the bottom of this," Nelson said, adding that he has asked the Department of Justice to help if evidence shows the boys were killed. "I'm just here to make sure this investigation continues."

Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.

Senator Bill Nelson supports USF scientists' to continue their investigation into the Dozier school

photo(8)_20130201150818_JPG

ABC ACTION NEWS - Tampa
Feb 1, 2013
Posted: 3:10 PM 
By: Jacqueline IngleS
TAMPA, Fla - The probe into the deaths of numerous boys at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna must continue, according to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

Anthropologists and archeologists have examined historical documents, used ground-penetrating radar, analyzed soil samples and performed excavations at the now defunct school to uncovered the 50 unmarked graves.  The researches also found that more deaths occurred at the school.  They uncovered 98 deaths of boys between ages 6-18 in the years 1914 through 1973.
Nelson and others are calling on the governor to grant investigators more time after 50 more grave sites were discovered last year.  The probe will continue if the state agrees to give more time and to continue to fund the investigation.
Right now, the state is only allowing investigators to do research on the property until July 9.
Flanked by lead USF investigators, a former student of the reform school and former Lakeland police officer who lost her brother at the school, Senator Nelson told ABC Action News he wants to bring closure to some of the families by granting researchers more time and access to finish what they started.
Nelson wants the investigation to continue, the bodies to be exhumed and identified, the U.S. Justice Department to assist in the probe and for it to be determined if crimes were committed.
In December, ground penetrating radar uncovered 19 grave sites bringing the total number of graves to at least 50 and led USF researchers to speculate there is a second cemetery on the premises. State investigators estimated there were only 31 graves.
"Where there is smoke there is fire," said Nelson.  "We owe this to the family who have suffered over the years.  We owe it to the victims who have suffered over the years."
The state has tried to sell the site despite the investigation. Families of the dead boys, however, have opposed the idea because many are still searching for the body of their loved one.
Boys were sent to the school for committing serious offenses.  However, as time passed, boys were committed to the school for petty things like trespassing and truancy.
Krell's brother, George Smith, who was accused of stealing a car while trying to get to Nashville to pursue his music career, was sent to Dozier.
"Once we got a notice he was the reform school we never heard another word," said Krell. 
Krell's mother was then told her son ran away but was later caught and brought back to the school.
"He wrote my mother again said they found him on the highway and he got what he deserved," Krell recalled.
Krell's mother persisted with school officials to have communication with her son.  She decided to plan a trip to Dozier.  The day before she was to go up and see her son, according to Krell's sister, the family was contacted by a pastor and told her son was dead.  According to the pastor, Krell's brother was found dead under a house in Marianna and was so badly decomposed they could only identify him by the number on his shirt.
By the time Krell and her mother arrived up at the school, they were told George, who had just turned 14, was buried the same day his body was found.  They were taken to a grave where he was supposedly buried, Krell told reporters.
"I am suspicious of how he died.  I think he was killed," Krell said.
Krell feels her brother was killed the first time he ran away from the school and that the correspondence Krell's mother received were fakes and not from her brother.
Robert Staley who was committed to Dozier, also spoke about the horrors at the school.  He said when he first got to the school it appeared well taken care of and thought it couldn't be that bad.
Staley was a "White House Boy," a group of men who claim they were lashed with a leather strap more than a 100 times inside of a cottage on the campus known as the "White House."  This allegedly took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
"My rear end was black and blue," recalled Straley after being lashed  Straley who was 13 at the time weighed 105 pounds.  "lt looked like you took a syringe and stabbed me."
Straley, who worked in the school's hospital, said he became terrified when a young boy who tried running away came in for treatment after being lashed.
"His skin looked like hamburger meat.  He was crying and shaking and didn't stop doing that for two days and never said a word.  He was in shock," Straley.
Straley, who now resides in Clearwater, said the men who beat the boy were known as "whipmasters."
Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers were never able to substantiate the claims of physical and sexual abuse.  The FDLE's inquiry into the allegations was ordered by former Governor Charlie Crist.   Officers found 81 students died at the school over the years.
Lead research Dr. Erin Kimmerle said the the amount of property that must be searched is extensive.  The school originally encompassed 1400 acres.  Some of the area was sold off and used for clay mining.
Kimmerle is looking to get an order
to excavate and exhumate. 
"It would take about six weeks of field work," said Kimmerle.  Not to mention, it would also be costly.  Kimmerle was not able to give a cost estimate.
Kimmerle said they believe the boys were buried in caskets that were made at the school.
"We have found evidence and tools for casket making," she said.
However, there was no known undertaker or proof any autopsies were performed.
"When it comes to murder there is no statute of limitations.  We want to get to the bottom of it," Nelson concluded.

Read more: http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_hillsborough/senator-bill-nelson-supports-usf-scientists-to-continue-their-investigation-into-the-dozier-school#ixzz2JgV3MPyP

USF NEWS
USF Research at Closed School Praised

Sen. Bill Nelson wants the excavation work at the shuttered Dozier School to continue in an effort to provide closure for relatives.

Sen. Bill Nelson (red tie) is flanked by USF researchers and relatives of boys who died at the Dozier School. Photo: Katy Hennig | USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2013) – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is supporting the work of University of South Florida researchers to locate and identify grave sites at a closed reform school in Florida’s Panhandle.

On Friday, Nelson was briefed on the project by Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF and one of the lead researchers on the project who is examining burial sites at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. Nelson had asked Gov. Rick Scott to grant the researcher’s request to remain on the state-owned land until their work is concluded.

Nelson held a news conference following the briefing at USF’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa.

“The only way to know what happened, and to bring closure to some of the families, is to give these researchers the time and access to finish what they started,” Nelson said prior to the news conference. “We absolutely must get to the bottom of this.”

The Dozier School operated for more than 100 years, and its unknown how many children died at the facility and what the causes were. Former residents at the school have said they were repeatedly abused by staff and that suspicious deaths occurred.

The preliminary investigation of the site by USF researchers has revealed at least 50 grave shafts in the grounds around the school. School records examined by researchers showed nearly 100 deaths over the years.

Following a news conference in December where Kimmerle and her team unveiled their preliminary findings, Nelson wrote the U.S. Department of Justice, asking it to support the work and a forensic examination of any evidence.

2-1-13
FUNDING NEEDED DTO CONTINUE SEARCH FOR HIDDEN GRAVES AT DOZIER
By Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer, Tampabay Times

TAMPA — How many dead boys are buried at the state's oldest reform school, and where are their remains located? Those are the questions that continue to baffle the families of the dead and former wards of the Marianna facility.
 
On Friday, Sen. Bill Nelson called on state officials to allow forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida to continue to search for the clandestine graves of inmates at the reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna. He also asked state legislators to fund the university's mission to locate and exhume the remains, and to determine how the boys died.
 
"Where there's smoke, there's fire," said Nelson, flanked by the families of two boys who died while imprisoned at the infamous facility, known through the years as the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. "I want them exhumed. I want them examined."
 

Related News/Archive

  • USF report reveals more deaths and graves at Dozier than state admitted
  • Nelson urges Justice Department to join Dozier graves investigation
  • Researchers find more graves at Dozier than state said existed
  • Investigation into child abuse at Marianna reform school brings no charges
  • Tampa Bay area has a long history of violent, heinous crimesThe researchers, led by USF professor Erin Kimmerle, examined one known cemetery using ground-penetrating radar and found at least 50 possible graves, 19 more than Florida Law Enforcement Investigators identified in an earlier investigation.
     
    Kimmerle's team has asked for $160,000 from the state to continue field work. She said researchers are looking for a second cemetery, on the south side of the campus, using ground-penetrating radar. The state has given them permission to search for five more months. She said Attorney General Pam Bondi is supporting the project, along with Dr. Michael Hunter, the medical examiner for the region.
     
    Some of the boys died under mysterious circumstances, including the two boys whose family members joined Nelson for the press conference. Ovell Krell's brother, Owen Smith, 14 at the time he was committed in 1940, was found decomposed under a house in Marianna after reportedly running away. But Krell, 12 at the time, heard from another state ward who saw her brother running across a field as men fired rifles at him.
     
    "At 14 years old, at the end of January, you don't lay down under a house and freeze to death," said Krell, a former Lakeland police officer. "You get help."
     
    Glen Varnadoe's uncle, Thomas, was sent to the school in 1934, at the age of 13. He was healthy when he left home, but he died 35 days later. School records say he died of pneumonia, but Varnadoe doubts that.
     
    "We want to get to the bottom of this," Nelson said, adding that he has asked the Department of Justice to help if evidence shows the boys were killed. "I'm just here to make sure this investigation continues."
     
    Ben Montgomery can be reached at
    bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.

Investigation into Graves at Dozier to Continue

Senator Bill Nelson says University of South Florida researchers have received permission to carry-on their investigation of gravesites on the Dozier School for Boys campus in Marianna.

A group of former students, who call themselves the White House Boys, say school officials tortured and killed boys in the 1950's and 60's, then buried them in unmarked graves.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the claims several years ago, before the state closed the school for budgetary reasons. But U-S-F researchers say they found more graves than the F-D-L-E during their research last year.

Nelson is at USF Friday to look at some of that information.

The relative of a student, who died mysteriously at Dozier is suing the state, to prevent the sale of the Dozier property before the case is fully investigated.

               

U.S. Sen. Nelson Want Investigation to Continue at Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys

TAMPA – In the wake of a call by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and others the state has given university researchers more time to continue an investigation into dozens of young boys’ deaths and burials in unmarked graves at a now-shuttered reform school in Florida’s Panhandle, a lead researcher said today. The researchers will be meeting with Nelson here tomorrow.

The senator will be in Tampa to get an update, view documents and see research material from a University of South Florida lead scientist on the project, Dr. Erin Kimmerle. They’ll be joined by Ovell Krell, an 84-year-old former Lakeland police officer, who lost her brother at the school.

“The only way to know what happened, and to bring closure to some of the families, is to give these researchers the time and access to finish what they started,” Nelson said. “We absolutely must get to the bottom of this.”

Anthropologists and archeologists, including Dr. Kimmerle, began an investigation last year into gravesites at the now defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. In December 2012, the researchers announced they had found evidence of almost 100 deaths and 50 gravesites at the school – way more than previously found by law enforcement.

Scientists examined historical documents, used ground-penetrating radar, analyzed soil samples and performed excavations at the site to uncover the 50 unmarked gravesites – or, 19 more than identified in a previous investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The researchers also found that more deaths occurred at the school than previously known. They uncovered 98 deaths of boys between ages 6-18 in the years from 1914 through 1973.

The previous state law enforcement inquiry - ordered by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to investigate allegations of abuse from students in the 1950’s and 1960’s - found that 81 students died at the school over the years and 31 were buried on the site. But, the agency said it found no evidence to support allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Nelson referred allegations of abuse at the school to state police shortly after he received a letter in October 2012 from a Lakeland, Florida man who said his uncle died at the reform school years ago under mysterious circumstances. The man, Glen R. Varnadoe, wants to now find and exhume his uncle’s body. He is suing the state to stop it from selling the land until a full investigation is complete.

Nelson wrote to the U.S. Department of Justice last December asking it to support USF’s anthropologists in broadening the search for more graves, as well as look for forensic evidence of possible crimes. Nelson wrote to Gov. Rick Scott a month later asking him to re-issue permits that will allow scientists to continue their research on school grounds at least through the middle of this year. The state granted that permission Thursday morning.

Since becoming involved in the case, the Florida lawmaker has also heard from other families and former residents of the school, which closed in 2011 amid allegations of abuse there.

“I want to thank you for your interest in finding the truth about what went on at the Dozier School,” wrote one woman married to a man who in his youth was a resident of the school. “All you have to do is listen to these men and watch their faces to know that these men suffered the brutality and horror that they describe happened there. While many of the physical scars have gone, the mental scars remain. Many men from all over the country have the same story, have the same pain on their faces and deserve vindication.”

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DOZIER SCHOOL CHILDREN UNMARKED GRAVES: MEDICAL EXAMINER NOW INVOLVED IN INVESTIGATION
Panama City, Bay County, Florida
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
www.baycommunitynews.com
By K
evin Earl Wood, allunited@bellsouth.net

                Today, January 16, 2013, the District Medical Examiner for the 14th District of Florida, Dr. Michael Hunter, issued a press release acknowledging that his office is actively involved in the investigation of unmarked human burials at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Jackson County, Florida.
           Based on a scientific and historical investigation by forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida (USF) it is now believed that fifty or more bodies of children, and possibly two or more adults, may be buried on the Dozier property.

                Unmarked "grave shafts" were recently identified on the northern portion of the Dozier property by the USF forensic team, led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) equipment.


Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida


January 16, 2013 Press Release from Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner, 14th District

Dr. Kimmerle's professional credentials are impressive
The team of Kimmerle-Hunter would be an ideal match for unearthing the truth at the Dozier juvenile penal institution addressing the deaths of all of the children who died there and are now buried at Dozier like animals.
                Starting in January 2013 Dr. Kimmerle's team will now be searching the southern portion of the Dozier property for additional "grave shafts" that are believed to exist.
                At one time the school was segregated into black (north) and white (south) facilities for child inmates at the state operated juvenile penal institution. In keeping with the historical practice of segregation it is believed that there are two segregated burial grounds on the north and south parcels of the property, respectively: one for black children and one for white children.

             The Dozier facility was closed in 2011 as investigations into the abuse, torture and death of children continued by state and federal authorities after an order to investigate these deaths and burials was issued by former Governor Charlie Crist in December, 2008 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

January 16, 2013 Press Release from Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner, 14th District




Order by FDLE Head Governor Crist to FDLE to Investigate Dozier Graves

According to the Florida Constitution, Article IV, Section 4(g), the Governor and his Cabinet constitute the "agency head" of FDLE.

In 2008 Governor Crist was clear in his direction to FDLE that they investigate the "identity of the deceased" and to "make every reasonable effort to determine the identities of these remains." To date FDLE has failed to use scientific or DNA identification tools to identify the remains as ordered by the Governor. FDLE further has failed to use GPR equipment to identify each "grave shaft" that exists on the property to identify remains buried there in unmarked graves.

Florida Law, Section 872.05, regulates "unmarked human burials." When an unmarked human burial is discovered the law requires that either the State Archaeologist or District Medical Examiner be notified.

January 13, 2013 Press Release from State Archaeologist Mary Glowacki

            Once notified, either agency will then determine who has jurisdiction over the remains. In a January 13, 2013 Press Release from the Florida State Archaeologist, Mary Glowacki, she stated that her office does not have jurisdiction over the human remains at Dozier. Therefore, the District Medical Examiner would have jurisdiction over the remains.

In Florida, cemeteries are regulated and required to be licensed through the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Funeral, Cemetery & Consumer Services. According to a department spokesperson the burial ground at Dozier is not a licensed cemetery.

The District Medical Examiner advised in its Press Release that a decision on Jurisdiction will be made shortly and that more details will be forthcoming.

Florida State Archaeologist Mary Glowacki
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IMPORTANT!  CHECK OUT THE FLORIDA CABINET MEETING DISCUSSING THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS & INVESTIGATION INTO THE "TRUTH" OF FSB HISTORY IN THE VIDEO BELOW!


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BAY COMMUNITY NEWS  - January 7, 2013 by Kevin Earl Wood

The Dozier School Deaths:  Unearthing the Truth Through Forensic Science...Not Political Science


TO VIEW THIS ARTICLE, CLICK THE IMAGE OF THE PAGE HERE:   
Forensic Science Article RE Dozier School (1).pdf
265.0 KB
       OR CLICK HERE


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from: YOUR BLACK WORLD Wed, December 26, 2012
Graves of Dozens of African-American Boys Among Those Found at Florida Reform School
Authorities have found nearly 100 unmarked graves at a Florida reform school where students were reportedly beaten, murdered, and even raped.

                 

It was originally believed that 81 boys died at the school, but scientists researching the grounds now believe that 98 boys died while at the school between 1911 and 1973. At least 19 of the deaths appear not to have been reported to law enforcement. 

The Dozier School for Boys opened in 1900 and has gone by several names. Even though the names changed, the school was always known for its brutality. Many activists demanded  reforms during the time, but  little changed. 


(Note about photo above:  This photo was in the USF 118 page report.  White House Boy Nate Dowling is standing up towards front of the truck in a brown shirt!)

The school, which opened in 1900,  was closed in June 2011 by the Department of Juvenile Justice after a years-long investigation of widespread physical and s*xual abuse. 

Thus far, the evidence of deaths has come mostly from the African-American gravesite on the north side of the school. Many of those graves were marked with crosses. But researchers are are not done with their research and anticipate finding additional gravesites on the other side of campus where the white boys lived. 

‘We anticipated finding about 25 to 30 grave shafts,’ said Christian Wells, an assistant professor of anthropology who led the anthropological work at the site. ‘But in fact we found a minimum of 50.


Dozier’s records show that at least 50 students were buried on the school’s campus, while over 30 bodies were sent away to be buried. Some of the boys were killed after attempting to escape the reform school. 

African-American children at the school were three times more likely to be buried in an unspecified location than the white boys, the report found, according to a report done by researchers.

Read the comments or add your own comment at: 
http://www.yourblackworld.net/2012/12/black-news/graves-of-dozens-of-african-american-boys-among-those-found-at-florida-reform-school/

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The Miami Herald | EDITORIAL
Po
sted 12.23.12 
Justice for the ‘lost’ boys
OUR OPINION: Authorities must investigate what happened at Dozier School where boys were buried after brutal treatment
HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com
Call them the lost boys, assigned to oblivion by a neglectful state. At least 50 graves have been found on the grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. It was a reform school that opened in 1900 and closed last year after an investigation found widespread abuse at the facility over decades. State officials say the school was shut down for “budgetary” reasons, but the shame of what went on there unchecked for so long likely prompted the closure.

Closing the school doesn’t end this ignominious chapter in Florida’s history. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson rightly is asking the U.S. Justice Department to conduct a full-scale investigation. For those lost boys and their families, that is exactly what needs to be done.

Roger Dean Kiser, a former inmate, wrote of his abuse there in The White House — An American Tragedy. He called the place “a concentration camp” where he and other boys were tortured and abused physically and sexually in the 1950s and ’60s. The White House, an 11-room building on the school grounds, is where most abuse took place, Mr. Kiser writes.
 
Other former inmates — you really can’t call them students — recall beatings with metal-lined leather straps and being taken to the “rape room.” The boys were farmed out for labor by prison administrators, who profited from the forced work. Evidence shows that runaways were shot to death or killed by blunt trauma.

In 2008, after several former inmates spoke up about their unspeakable treatment, then-Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. The FDLE found that 81 inmates had died at the school over the years and that 31 were buried on school grounds.

No one was called to task by FDLE’s findings. Not one single person. Florida State University anthropologists and archaeologists have continued the search, using ground-penetrating radar for further exhumations. The largest grave site is next to a dump. It was long called the “colored” section. The graves are marked with PVC pipe, but the markers don’t correspond to actual interments.

The FSU team found that between 1911 and 1973 at least 98 boys between the ages of 6 and 18 and two adults died at the facility. The team last week reported locating 19 more graves. More may yet be uncovered. The FSU experts will return to the excavation site in what is believed to be the white inmates’ burial ground and must finish their work by January

Some, like Mr. Kiser, were only there because they were orphans — abandoned by their families and then warehoused by a state government oblivious to what was happening at the so-called “reform” school. Others were sent there for punishment — and what punishment it must have been.

A relative of one victim, Glen R. Varnadoe, wrote to Sen. Nelson seeking information about the whereabouts of the remains of his uncle, Thomas, who died at the school in 1935 after being incarcerated there for just 35 days. Mr. Varnadoe wants to bury his uncle’s remains in the family plot in Brooksville. Sen. Nelson wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting the federal investigation. The Justice Department must comply. As Mr. Nelson said, “For the sake of those who died and their surviving families, we’ve got to find out what happened.”

Yes, uncover the whole ugly truth and go after those still alive who let this abuse go on for nearly 75 years. Someone must be called to account for the horrors at Dozier.

The state, after all, was the ultimate authority over the facility.

We can’t bring back those boys, but we can give them final recognition and dignity in death.

Read more here:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/23/3152890/justice-for-the-lost-boys.html#storylink=cpy

To read comments or to make a comment, view here:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/23/3152890/justice-for-the-lost-boys.html

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Dozier
School Children Deaths: Medical Examiner or State Archaeologist May Get Involved in Investigation
PHOTO: Dr. Michael Hunter, Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida

 Panama City, Bay County, Florida
Thursday, December 21, 2012
www.baycommunitynews.com

By: Kevin Earl Woodallunited@bellsouth.net

Now that the University of South Florida (USF) experts have issued their report   finding about fifty (50) grave-sites suspected to be those of children, the question now exists whether the medical examiner for the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, Dr. Michael Hunter, will intervene to coordinate the work by USF and assume jurisdiction over the archaeological research and excavations or whether the State Archaeologist  under the Department of State, Bureau of Archaeological Research will assume jurisdiction. 

The USF archaeological research and report has found “unmarked human burials” at the Dozier School which means, “any human skeletal remains or associated burial artifacts or 

any location, including any burial mound or earthen or shell monument, where human skeletal remains or associated burial artifacts are discovered or believed to exist on the basis of archaeological or historical evidence, excluding any burial marked or previously marked by a tomb, monument, gravestone, or other structure or thing placed or designed as a memorial of the dead” as defined in  

Section 872.05(2)(f) of the Florida Statutes.  Both archaeological and historical evidence has been unearthed by the USF experts.

Once “unmarked human burials” are discovered, as they have been by USF experts, then Florida law requires that this discovery be reported to the Medical Examiner for the 14th Judicial Circuit which includes the Dozier School if the burials are believed to be less than seventy five (75) years old.  If the burial is greater than seventy five (75) years old then the discovery is reported to the State Archaeologist.  This is mandated bySection 872.05(5) of the Florida Statutes.

The unique dilemma at the Dozier School is that the remains are believed to be a combination of bodies of children buried less than, and also greater than, seventy five (75) years ago.  Therefore, both the Medical Examiner and the State Archaeologist may have dual jurisdiction.

However, Section 406.11 Florida Statutes provides that a medical examiner “shall determine the cause of death and shall, for that purpose, make or have performed such examinations, investigations, and autopsies as he or she shall deem necessary or as shall be requested by the state attorney…When any person dies in the state…In any prison or penal institution.”  Most would not argue that the Dozier school fits such characteristics particularly among allegations from survivors that children were beaten or shot for trying to escape.

At minimum, the deaths of children at Dozier are alleged to have occurred under “suspicious or unusual circumstances” as also addressed in Section 406.11 Florida Statutes.  This would invoke the jurisdiction of the medical examiner as well.

The Chief Investigator for Dr. Hunter, Michael Bates, has confirmed to Bay Community News that Dr. Erin Kimmerle, USF lead investigator, has notified the medical examiner’s office.  It is still unknown what action Dr. Hunter will take to assume or decline jurisdiction.

Lastly, Section 704.08 Florida Statutes provides, “The relatives and descendants of any person buried in a cemetery shall have an easement for ingress and egress for the purpose of visiting the cemetery at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner. The owner of the land may designate the easement. If the cemetery is abandoned or otherwise not being maintained, such relatives and descendants may request the owner to provide for reasonable maintenance of the cemetery, and, if the owner refuses or fails to maintain the cemetery, the relatives and descendants shall have the right to maintain the cemetery.”

It is currently unknown if such easement has been made.  According to C.J. Drake, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the “owner” of the Dozier property, currently a state-owned land, is the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund which is simply the Florida Governor and his Cabinet. 

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PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD - Letters to the Editor

State needs to get to bottom of Dozier scandal
Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 08:00 AM.

The brutality Paul Newman depicted in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” was a five-star hotel compared to what apparently took place at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Dozier reform school was an end-of-the-road death sentence for at least 98 troubled Southern youth; probably dozens more have yet to be unearthed.

According to The News Herald’s Dec. 11 article (“Researchers find more graves at Jackson County reform school”), mortality patterns occurred after escapes and within three months of arrival. These were “abandoned children” — mostly born poor, some orphans, runaways or perhaps just petty delinquents. Tortured, used as slave labor and not knowing how long they would be held captive, it’s no wonder some dared to escape. Grown survivors tearfully report some kids were shot while running away,  then dumped like garbage into shared (yet segregated) graves by the adults paid to be their caretakers.

Innocent skeletons of abused children still scream for justice. Will State Attorney Glenn Hess call for a grand jury investigation? That would be my request. Why wait for 100 more letters?

Broken bones of broken children tell modern archaeologists a wicked story of homegrown horrors. Whipping inflicted on helpless kids by their keepers leave scars on many who walk among us. Hopefully Marti Coley, our Marianna state representative, can help these survivors find some justice and peace, even if that means an abysmal discovery of shame.

For 111 years this Bible Belt reform school was beating kids to death. Corporal punishment and depraved captivity was the North Florida standard of reform. Dozier employees probably hoped their guilt would remain entombed forever with those they abused.

Can we depend on Sen. Don Gaetz and Gov. Scott for some genuine ethics reform in our current prisons and juvenile system of justice? The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but imprisons a quarter of the world’s inmates. Since when did prisons have to be a big “for profit” business?

Unlike a Hollywood movie script with a “Happy Days” ending, no local preacher stepped forward to save those orphans on Christmas (or any other Sunday- for 111 years). Why is that, Mr. Preacher? No sir, Jesus, it was just business as usual in good ol’ Marianna — and that business included institutionalized servitude and murder.

No bureaucrat from D.C. came down and dug those graves; it was our own sorry excuse for citizens who thought this was part of a job description. The infamous punishment building known as “the White House” was essentially a torture chamber. The lethal whip used on these kids was sewn with a spring steel insert. You mean nobody working there heard those children screaming as bloody flesh was lashed off the backs and wondered “what in the Lord’s name is wrong with this place”? Or “I’m calling the police or FBI and reporting this right now”? Just another silent night — and never a Christmas.

When adults and authority don’t step forward, evil and Jerry Sandusky types are not far behind. Dressed in self-righteous cloaks, they prey on the weak and infirmed. Be it Pennsylvania State University or some so-called “reform” school in Marianna, nobody with ethics has the right to remain silent. If shutting up is the cost of being employed, then your wages are surely cashed in Hell.

I say call in a grand jury investigation now and don’t remain silent a moment longer.
GLENN JONES
Youngstown

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MY FOX TAMPA BAY - NEWS 13
DEC. 20, 2012
BROOKSVILLE, FL 

DOZIER SCHOOL FAMILIES, MORE WORK NEEDED

Glen Varnadoe has spent years trying to find out the truth. 

"All I want is my uncle. Put his body in a box and give him to me. I'm off to Brooksville, and that's it. It's that simple."

Varnadoe's uncle Thomas was sent to the Dozier School for Boys, a reform school, back in 1934. But 38 days later, he was dead.

He was only 13 years old.

The only information they have on Thomas' death and burial is a short account from Glen's father, Hubert. He was there when Thomas was buried and said it was just a pastor and the person who dug the grave.

But Hubert only gave that short account to his wife. He never spoke of it otherwise, not even when he died.

Glen has made a promise to find Thomas.

A week ago, USF publicized their report on the Dozier School. They used ground-penetrating radar and say they found the possibility of 50 graves. That's 19 more than the state reported back in 2009, but FDLE is standing by their investigation.

The school was open for 100 years. It was just closed last year. As many as 350 men, now in their 60's, claim school guards beat them until they were bloody.

Many say boys that were in their cottages would be taken to a place called the White House and repeatedly hit. The men say some of these boys never came back.

Glen Varnadoe says there's one way to find out for sure.

"How you make sense of that, you dig it up. it's that simple you dig it up and then find out."

But FDLE says they will not exhume the bodies unless new evidence comes forward. They do not consider the USF study as new evidence.

"Ground-penetrating radar is used to find ground anomalies, anomalies in the ground where the soil has been disturbed. It may or may not be graves. In a criminal investigation, probable or possible have very little value," said FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger.

Varnadoe believes they are getting traction from other state leaders. He is hopeful they will allow USF to continue their investigation.

The cemetery that USF found is considered the "black cemetery." Historians, as well as boys who were inmates at the school, believe there is a "white cemetery" too.

FDLE calls the USF study "academic research" and says they have different requirements to look for than FDLE does in a criminal investigation.

But Erin Kimmerle, who headed up the USF team has often been called upon by law enforcement to look for bodies. Her team used ground-penetrating radar to find lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare under a slab of concrete. That discovery eventually led to the conviction of Dee Dee Moore.

So why is FDLE now brushing off Kimmerle's work?

"I think we're all scared of what might be found, when you start digging up bones. Those were some dark days in Florida history," said Varnadoe.

He believes exhumation is the only answer. He's calling on state leaders to help families find the truth, buried under the ground.
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TBO.COM
December 20, 2012-

FDLE disputes USF gravesite study of Dozier school 

 

Lost graves found at boys home in north Florida  USF anthropologists reveal findings at Dozier School for Boys)

  

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday defended its 2009 investigation of alleged abuse at the defunct Dozier School for Boys in response to conflicting information in a recent study by University of South Florida anthropologists.

USF's interim study cited 13 more deaths and 19 more gravesites at the school than listed in the FDLE's investigative report. FDLE officials attributed the difference in part to the differing natures of criminal investigations and anthropological research.

"While both have value, each has a different standard and scope," the agency said in a statement.

But the FDLE also disputed some of the information and assumptions in the university's study, which was released Dec. 10.

The criminal investigation was unable to substantiate or refute claims by former students of physical and sexual abuse, including deaths, that allegedly occurred decades ago at the reform school. The school opened in Marianna, about 60 miles west of Tallahassee, in 1900 and was closed last year as a cost-cutting move.

FDLE investigators identified 85 student deaths and 31 gravesites in their report three years ago. The university's study reported 98 student and two staff deaths as well as at least 50 gravesites in an on-campus cemetery known as "Boot Hill."

The anthropologists, though, suspect there could be more graves elsewhere on campus and have called for additional research including the exhumation of remains to help determine causes of death.

FDLE officials said the university study included "probable" and "possible" information that has limited or no value in a criminal investigation.

The university's lead researcher, Erin Kimmerle, did not immediately respond to a telephone message and email seeking comment.

Students ranging in age from 6 to 18 in some instances died due to fire, disease, physical trauma or drowning, but in most cases the causes of death are unknown.

A five-page FDLE report issued Wednesday in response to questions raised by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at a Cabinet meeting last week noted that university researchers used ground-penetrating radar to identify possible gravesites.

"Any anomalies or voids found in a particular area may or may not actually be grave shafts, and such a determination can be definitively made only through excavation of the area in question," the FDLE report says. "Further, it seems premature to conclude that combined 'probable' and 'possible grave shafts' would necessarily equal the 'minimum number of burials' in a particular location."

Both the FDLE and university checked archival material and interviewed former students, their families and former staff members. The university study also included remote sensing and archaeological excavation.

They agree there are 31 confirmed burials that are somewhere besides on the campus. The biggest difference is that the university lists 45 students buried at the school while FDLE confirmed only 31. The university included 11 students who died from influenza who are not on the FDLE's death list because investigators were unable to identify them by name. They say those 11 deaths likely duplicated students already listed by name.

Information about the influenza deaths came from a 1918 Miami Herald article that reported 11 black students and a matron had died in an outbreak at the school. The article, though, did not identify the students.

FDLE officials said two more students on the university's list of those buried at the school also appear to have been double counted. Both died in 1914.

The university's list also included a student whom the FDLE classified as being buried at an unknown location. That difference accounted for the university also listing one fewer student buried at an unknown site than the 23 cited by FDLE.
                        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FDLE Defends Probe of Dozier Reform School in Marianna  

ecember 19, 2012 10:45am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is defending its investigation of alleged abuse at a now-defunct Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
The agency Wednesday responded to questions about why it listed fewer deaths and gravesites in a 2009 report than cited in a recent University of South Florida study.
FDLE officials attributed the lower number to differing requirements for criminal investigations and academic research.
The agency's investigation was unable to substantiate or refute claims of abuse by former students at the school in Marianna about 60 miles west of Tallahassee.
Criminal investigators identified 85 student deaths and 31 gravesites. The university identified 98 student deaths and 50 gravesites.
FDLE officials said the university study included "probable" and "possible" information that has limited or no value in a criminal investigatiion.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--FDLE News
Dec 19, 2012
FDLE releases response regarding Dozier School
 
For Immediate Release              
 
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was asked on Dec. 11, 2012, by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, to review the findings of the University of South Florida report regarding the Boot Hill Cemetery at the Arthur G. Dozier School For Boys.  FDLE has concluded its review.
 
The USF report is an academic research study which is different than FDLE’s criminal investigation into the Dozier School.  While both have value, each has a different standard and scope. 
 
In 2008, FDLE was directed by then Governor Charlie Crist to investigate the 32 unidentified graves that were marked by white, metal crosses and determine the identity of the deceased in those graves and if any crimes were committed.
USF used ground penetrating radar to identify “probable” and “possible” grave shafts.  Ground penetrating radar is used to identify anomalies below the ground.  These may or may not be graves. “Probable” and “possible” information has limited or no value in an investigation when “possible” information cannot be further investigated. 
 
FDLE identified 85 student deaths: 31 buried in the cemetery, 31 in other locations and 23 in unknown locations.  USF identified 98 student deaths: 45 buried in the cemetery, 31 in other locations and 22 in unknown locations. 
 
The USF study included 11 students who died of influenza. Unable to identify these students by name, FDLE did not include this information in its count because it may have duplicated deaths already listed.   Two additional students appear to have been double-counted.   FDLE identified one student as being buried in an unknown location while USF listed the student as being buried at the school. 
 
Should additional evidence dictate an expansion of our original charge, FDLE is ready and willing to reopen its investigation of the Dozier School.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
Scientists Discover More Than 50 Unmarked Graves at Fla Boys
Monday, 17 December 2012 11:02 Written by Jason St. Amand - EDGE

file photo

file photo

Scientists and researchers from the University of South Florida in Tampa said that 98 deaths occurred at a Florida boys’ reform school between 1911 and 1973 and that the victims were beaten, raped and murdered, the Daily Mail (U.K) reports.

 

More recently, anthropologists from the university claim that they found of at least 50 grave shafts at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. (located six miles north of Jackson, Fla.), which is 19 more than had been discovered by a 2010 investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"We anticipated finding about 25 to 30 grave shafts," Christian Wells, an assistant professor of anthropology who was in charge of the anthropological work at the site, said. "But in fact we found a minimum of 50."

The article notes that scientists say that a minimum of 96 boys between the ages of six and 18 have died between 1911 and 1973 and that, two adults have died at the school. Many of the burials have not been documented but researchers believe that there may be even more victims since privacy laws forbid researchers to access records after 1960.

The Dozier School opened in 1900 but was closed in June 2011 by the Department of Juvenile Justice after it was at the center of a controversy related to physical and sexual abuse.

Just before the school was shutdown, a group of former students sued the state in 2010 but their case was dismissed because the statue of limitations had expired. Some students, however, have gone on to write books about their experiences at Dozier. Norman Whiddon, was interviewed by Tallahassee, Fla.,
CBS affiliate WCTV and described the abuse he suffered while he was a student at Dozier.

"You take a 350 pound man against a 125 pound youngin’, who’s gonna win? The man. I’ve had both of my arms broke on account of them," he told the station. Whiddon, 61, attended the school in 1964 when hew as 12.

"I’ve been beat from the back of my neck all the way down to my ankles with a leather paddle about that long, that wide with a wooden handle on it," he continued. "You could hear it hit the wall behind them, the ceiling, the wall, you, and then the wall behind them again. You had to lay down and put your hands on a metal bed while they done it." 

Whiddon added that administration sent students "up on the hill to this little place and put you in a room that was about as big as a bathroom" with a bunk bed, toilet and sink. He went on to say that there wasn’t a blanket or mattress "just a metal bed to sleep on. That’s the kind of abuse they did to you. That’s the slate." He then recalls about a time he was "chained to a wall with a dog collar around my neck" and had his nose broken because he had to use the bathroom.

"The man wouldn’t let me go," he told WCTV. "He hit me square in the nose, broke my nose and told me don’t bleed on the floor. I had one of my arms broke on account of I didn’t cook a steak right for a staff employee. The instructor grabbed me by my arm and twisted my arm until my elbow snapped. He told me he’d teach me how to cook."

When scientists from the university were investigating the school they used technology, such as radar, that led them to believe there are more bodies buried at the school than what was organically reported. The Daily Mail notes, "the largest gravesite is on the north side of the campus, where African-American boys were buried. It is at this site where 31 graves are marked with white crosses, but researchers believe they do not correspond with actual burial sites."

As the
Miami Herald reports, the school’s own documents state that more than 50 children were buried on the school’s campus and more than 30 other bodies were sent to a second gravesite. Administrators from Dozier, however, did not record the burial locations for 22 students who died on the site.

The reports also say that the school’s officials segregated the boys’ graves, as African-American students were three times more likely to be buried in an unspecified location than white children.

"I didn’t realize going in how much of a story of civil rights it was," Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor of anthropology at the university, told the media.

According to documents, some of the children as well as the two adults died in a fire and an influenza outbreak at the school in the early 1900s. In January, researchers will go back to Dozier to investigate the boys’ living areas and they say they believe to find even more graves.

"We will continue to work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site," the Juvenile Justice Secretary said.

The report goes on to say that seven boys most likely died while trying to escape the school. The school’s documents on the incident state that children who escaped from Dozier died in a violently. For example, reports say that Thomas Curry allegedly died of blunt head trauma after he tried to leave the campus, while two other boys died of gunshot wounds to the chest or head.

From our media partners at EDGE

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The following article appeared in the Miami Herald on 12-16-12, and the Sun Sentinel on
12-17-12
DOZIER SCHOOL FOR BOYS
Gov. Scott, anthroplogy and Dozier School for Boys
BY MARY JO MELONE
maryjomt@tampabay.rr.com

When it comes to bad news, the truth is always inconvenient. And so it was last week, when forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida reported on the expanding horrors at the now-shuttered Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, where, in the state’s name, boys in trouble were sent for over a century.
The anthropologists found that 96 children and two adults died, including two 6-year-olds. Fifty graves have been found on the property, not the 31 that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reported two years ago. Nothing remarkable about its number, FDLE said then.
Hooey, said the men who still bear the scars of being there.
Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam has asked the FDLE to review the anthropologists’ claims and report to the governor and the Cabinet.
Although the Juvenile Justice Department has said it will cooperate further with the University of South Florida researchers — who suspect the existence of a second burial ground at Dozier — the current occupant of the governor’s mansion has been silent as a stone on the subject.
It may be that Gov. Rick Scott still doesn’t understand that much of a governor’s most important work is symbolic, and that it is vital that the man who represents the state represent its highest moral standards in both action and speech.
Or it could be that Gov. Scott knows that if he speaks about the University of South Florida investigators’ findings about Dozier, he’ll get tongue-tied when it’s time to utter the word anthropology.
Last year, the governor complained about how useless the subject was. He was talking about his desire to shift state university spending away from the liberal arts and put the money into science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM fields — because that’s where he believes all the jobs are.
“Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” Scott asked. “I don’t think so.”
There has been much speculation that the governor singled out anthropology because his daughter holds an undergraduate degree in the field. Perhaps he disapproved and extended his ideas of being a dad and of pleasing a dad to state policy.
Whatever it was, Scott earned the wrath of the American Anthropological Association and anthropology faculty across the state.
Moreover, what came off as his disdain for the liberal arts in general created fear over the future of liberal arts.
Those are the so-called mushy fields, like history, English and psychology, in which people reflect on who we are and what and where we’ve been — on other words, on the human condition.
It’s a subject that also affects the governor, who sometimes needs to be reminded of his own humanity. (Remember testing welfare recipients for drugs?)
Now the University of South Florida department website includes a video response to the governor, in which numerous graduate students detail the kind of work they do in all kinds of fields: healthcare for veterans and farm workers, attendance at state parks, homicide investigations, consumer use of technology, and, the grad students said, the development of statistics he has used to support his argument on behalf of STEM education.
With the Dozier investigation, you could also argue that anthropologists peer into the darkest corners of the human experience and Florida history.
Gov. Scott probably won’t send anthropologists any more money. However, given the work the anthropologists did at Dozier, at least he should send the researchers at the University of South Florida a thank-you note.

Mary Jo Melone, a former columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, is a writer in Tampa.
Read more here:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/16/3142652/gov-scott-anthroplogy-and-dozier.html#storylink=cpy
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WUSF
Law & Order
4:25 pm Wed December 12, 2012

Sen. Nelson Wants Feds to Investigate Dozier School Gravesites

University of South Florida researchers announced earlier this week that they’ve found evidence of around 90 deaths and 50 gravesites at the defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.  Now, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the Justice Department join the school’s anthropologists in broadening a search to look for more graves -  as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes. 
Marked gravesites at the Dozier School for Boys 

Nelson said in a prepared statement that he referred allegations concerning a case of abuse at the school to state police just two months ago, shortly after receiving a letter in October from a Lakeland man, who said his father and uncle were thrown into the reform school years ago, and that his uncle died there under mysterious circumstances.  The man now wants to find and exhume his uncle’s body. 

“The reform school may yield some ugly reminders about our past, but we absolutely must get to the bottom of this,” Nelson said.

The senator’s statement came as he wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging that the Justice Department assist USF anthropologists.  Nelson’s office also spoke with the school’s researchers and pledged support for their work and offered help so they could meet their recommendations for widening and completing a full investigation at the site.

The release of a report by the researchers this week said they have evidence of 50 gravesites at the institution, even though state police previously said there were only 31 grave sites.  The researchers said in their report they believe more graves are yet to be uncovered at the school, which closed only a year ago following revelations of widespread physical and sexual abuse of youths there since early last century.

The school opened in 1900 and was closed by the state for “budgetary reasons” in 2011.

Allegations of abuse had surfaced previously in 2008, and then-Gov. Charlie Crist ordered state police - the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or FDLE - to investigate allegations by a group of former students from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Among other things, FDLE found that 81 students had died at the school over the years and 31 were buried on campus.  But the agency found no tangible evidence to support allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Last year, a group of anthropologists and archeologists began their own investigation into the gravesites. They examined historical documents, used ground-penetrating radar, analyzed soil samples and performed excavations at the site to uncover 50 gravesites – or, 19 more than previously identified by FDLE.  The researchers also found more deaths occurred at the school than previously known.  They uncovered 98 deaths of boys between ages 6-18 in the years from 1914 through 1973.  

The research team released its findings Monday and said it plans to return to the site in January.

Here's the text of Sen. Nelson's letter to the U.S. Attorney General: 

December 12, 2012

Dear Attorney General Holder,

Earlier this week University of South Florida researchers released a report saying they’ve found evidence of 50 gravesites and almost 100 deaths at the now-defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.  I am writing to ask that the Justice Department assist USF researchers when they return to the site in January. 

The findings come on the heels of years of abuse and mistreatment allegations at the school.  A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation in 2008 found fewer grave sites and deaths than the USF findings released this week.  

For the sake of those who died and the family members still living, we’ve got to find out what happened at that school.  I’m asking your department to provide support and assistance to USF researchers in a broadened search to look for more graves, as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes.  The families deserve closure once and for all.

Please feel free to contact xxxxxxxxxx in my office at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with any questions.  I look forward to hearing from you.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WUSF
University Beat
5:41 pm Thu December 13, 2012.
Dozier Grave Mystery Deepens
By Mark Schreiner 

Listen to Mark Schreiner's University Beat on Marianna Graves initial research report by clicking
 
here  0:004:02.
UB_Marianna_Graves_12-10-12_64.mp3
1.8 MB

Even as researchers unearth more information about what may lie under the ground of the Dozier School for Boys, the allegations of brutality that marked the reform school's history continue to also live on.

For months, a team of USF anthropologists and archeologists have been studying the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna - particularly the school’s Boot Hill Cemetery and surrounding woods. Now, with the release of its interim findings, Professor Erin Kimmerle says the question remains: just how many young men are buried on the reform school grounds.

Work with ground-penetrating radar and “ground-truthing,” digging trenches to look for more clues, turned up a minimum of 50 "graveshafts"--not necessarily bodies, but underground irregularities. 

"It's kind of like looking through a window with steam on it," said Kimmerle. "Without doing a full excavation, we can't say exactly what's there."



The ‘at least 50’ number raises the first red flag: only 31 crosses in the cemetery mark supposed graves, in line with an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Records also show 81 deaths were reported at the school; USF researchers found 98 deaths occurred between 1914 and 1973.

"I want to see the Justice Department come in here," said Cooper. "I don't see the FDLE helping us at all, because they don't want to know what happened there."

In addition, researchers want to investigate the possibility of a second, more secret graveyard somewhere else on the site. While records don’t indicate its existence, at the time, it was custom for African-Americans and whites to be buried in separate locations.

Now while poor record-keeping isn’t a crime, some of the young men who served time at Dozier say what happened to them there was.  Jerry Cooper, 67, is a member of “the White House Boys,” a group named after the small building where they allege they were severely abused by school officials.

Newspaper and TV stories on the allegations from Cooper and other White House Boys led then-Gov. Charlie Crist to order an investigation in 2008. But the FDLE’s report basically denied the men’s claims, a statement repeated last month when USF’s initial findings were released. That, to Cooper, means it’s time for federal investigators to get involved.

“I want to see the Justice Department come in here, that’s what I’m begging for, I’m begging ‘em to please come in here and get this squared away because from what I can understand, I don’t see the FDLE helping us at all, because they don’t want to know what happened there.”

Cooper might just get his wish--Sen. Bill Nelson has sent a formal request to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Justice Department to join in the search for more graves, as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes.

               ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Florida lawmaker wants Justice to probe abuse, deaths at notorious reform school
By Barnini Chakraborty  

Published December 13, 2012
FoxNews.com

A Florida lawmaker wants the Justice Department to help investigate renewed allegations of state-sanctioned abuse and a generations-long criminal cover-up at a notorious reform school for boys.

Stories of torture at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys date back to the 1900s when students were kept in shackles and beaten with a leather strap. Further investigations have shed light on mysterious deaths and abuse tied to the institution in nearly every decade of its existence.

"The reform school may yield some ugly reminders about our past but we absolutely must get to the bottom of this," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said.

Earlier this week, scientists and researchers at the University of South Florida in Tampa released a report showing at least 50 graves were found on the compound -- 19 more than originally reported by state officials. The researchers used ground-penetrating radar and oil samples to uncover the previously undiscovered graves. Officials had already determined that during the history of the school's existence, at least 98 boys between the ages of 6 and 18, as well as two adult staff members, died at the now-shuttered school.

Most of the deaths have been attributed to a fire in 1914 as well as a flu outbreak in the early 20th century, but questions remain about the circumstances of some of the fatalities. Further, allegations of abuse at the school have been well-documented.

On Wednesday, Nelson asked Attorney General Eric Holder to provide assistance to a team of scientists as they continue to search school grounds. The Justice Department has not said if it will help.

In October, Lakeland, Fla, resident Glen Varnadoe contacted Nelson's office for help. He said his father and uncle had been sent to the reform school years ago and that his uncle died under mysterious circumstances 35 days after he arrived.

"It's time to bring Thomas home," Varnadoe wrote in a letter to Nelson.

Former students have over the years recounted personal tales of abuse at the school. Roger Dean Kiser, who was sent there during the 1950s, called the facility a "concentration camp for little boys" in his memoir "The White House Boys -- an American Tragedy."

There may could be more victims hidden in the campus cemetery, said Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor of anthropology at USF.

"Many questions persist about who is buried at the school and the circumstances surrounding their deaths," she told FoxNews.com.

USF researchers want to return to the site in January to continue their investigation. Overgrowth stalled earlier efforts to test the entire area.

The full scale of the abuse at Dozier is still unknown.

Several men who were sent to the reform school as teenagers in the 1960s have spoken out about the brutality they experienced, which included being whipped until they bled in a building called "The White House."

Four years ago, Florida's then-Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation into allegations made by these men, all of whom attended the school in the 1960s. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a report that said it found 31 boys buried in the cemetery. The report stated that most of the boys had died either in the 1914 fire or from the flu pandemic. The case was closed due to a lack of evidence. No charges were filed

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/13/florida-lawmaker-wants-justice-to-probe-abuse-deaths-at-notorious-reform-school/#ixzz2ExybVpi7
                             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAMPABAY TIMES
Nelson urges Justice Department to join Dozier graves investigation

By Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer
Ben MontgomeryTampa Bay Times
In Print: Thursday
, December 13, 2012

Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday called on the Department of Justice to assist a team of anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of South Florida that has been investigating the deaths of nearly 100 children at Florida's oldest reform school, the now-shuttered Dozier School for Boys outside the Panhandle town of Marianna.

Nelson, D-Fla., sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after the USF team released a report on Monday saying it had found 50 grave shafts on school property, 19 more than Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators found during an investigation in 2009.

"The reform school may yield some ugly reminders about our past, but we absolutely must get to the bottom of this," Nelson said.

The USF team also said it believes there is another burial site on what had been the white side of campus before integration in the late 1960s. Erin Kimmerle, a professor and forensic anthropologist, said Monday that she had been in contact with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida to talk about how to proceed. The team is continuing its investigation.

The state was trying to sell the property, but a judge ordered the sale be put on hold while the team searches for the remains of a boy who died under suspicious circumstances in 1934. The boy's family has been trying to locate his remains for decades.

"For the sake of those who died and the family members still living, we've got to find out what happened at that school," Nelson wrote to Holder. "I'm asking your department to provide support and assistance to USF researchers in a broadened search to look for more graves, as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes. The families deserve closure once and for all."

FDLE communications coordinator Keith Kameg said Monday that FDLE was aware of the report, but, "In the absence of any additional evidence we do not anticipate further criminal investigative action."

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Tuesday publicly asked the FDLE commissioner to look at the findings and report back to state officials.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said he had still not seen the USF report and he could not comment on its findings.

After his appearance before the Cabinet, Bailey said he was "anxious to receive the report."

"When we receive it and see what's in it, we will react accordingly," he said.

Nelson's call for the Department of Justice to help was good news to many of school's former inmates, who call themselves the White House Boys because they were beaten bloody inside a white brick building. Many disagreed with the FDLE investigating a state-run institution to begin with.

"Florida is not going to find Florida guilty of anything," said Robert Straley, 66, of Clearwater, who co-authored a book about his experience at the school. He called the initial investigation a "flimsy, transparent cover-up of the truth."

Times/Herald staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Nelson, Senator, Wants Feds To Probe Florida Reform School
 
12/12/12 05:56 PM ET EST Associated Press 

 MARIANNA, Fla. — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants the Justice Department to join an expanded search for graves and possible evidence of crimes at a defunct reform school in the Florida Panhandle.

The Florida Democrat on Wednesday made the request in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

University of South Florida anthropologists on Monday released a report indicating they had documented the deaths of two staffers and 96 children at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

They also said they found 50 gravesites on the grounds. That's 19 more than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement identified in a prior investigation. FDLE, though, was unable to confirm or refute claims that school staffers had abused students decades ago.

The anthropologists believe additional research will turn up more gravesites.

-----------------------------------------------------------
FDLE could re-open investigation into Dozier abuses, deaths

WTSP TAMPA 10 NEWS
Submitted by Preston Rudie, Reporter
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, 6:41pm

Tampa, Florida -- Governor Rick Scott is leaving open the possibility of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement taking another look at alleged abuses and deaths at the former Dozier School for Boys.

"I want to look into that and make sure the families, make sure we do the right things there," Scott said.

Scott's comments come one day after University of South Florida researchers announced finding more graves and more deaths of boys at the state-run school than previously reported.

READ: More graves found at Dozier School for Boys

Located in Marianna, Dozier was closed last year after 111 years. Dozens of former boys sent to the school claim they were victims of brutal beatings and abuse at the school.

SEE ALSO: Men who claim they were tortured at reform school visit graves

Roger Kiser spent time at the school in the late 50's and early 60's and is author of the book, "The White House Boys - An American Tragedy." He says USF's findings show FDLE's report completed in 2009 was a whitewash.

"It's like asking Charlie Manson to investigate whether he killed the Leno LaBianca family. What do you expect him to say? So you can't expect Florida to do an investigation on their staff and admit to any killings, or rapes, or molestations, or anything like that," Kiser tells 10 News.

But while the Governor may be willing to take another look at what happened at Dozier, a spokesperson for FDLE issued a statement Tuesday that sounded like nothing would change.

"We are aware of a recent report which has been written regarding the Dozier School for Boys. In the absence of any additional evidence we do not anticipate further criminal investigative action," Keith Kameg, a public information officer for FDLE said in a written statement.

USF anthropologists and archaeologists say they have uncovered 50 grave sites on the campus of Dozier which is 19 more than officially reported.

The researchers also announced on Monday that they found 98 deaths occurred at the school between 1914 and 1973 which is 17 more than previously stated.

In addition, the USF report also identified discrepancies in records of the cause and manner of death reported for several boys.

More stories on the Dozier School for Boys:

•Torture and murder at Florida reform school
•Men who claim they were tortured at reform school visit graves
•"White House Boys" sue state over abuse
•White House boy (now man) claims abuse
                                       ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
TBO.COM TAMPA TRIBUNE Editorial  
USF researchers find 19 more graves at Dozier School
By TBO.COM | Staff
Published: December 11, 2012

USF researchers, using sophisticated archaeological methods, have dug into the cold earth of a reform school cemetery, and into the institution's sketchy history, to give the children buried there official attention long overdue. While 31 graves are marked, the investigators discovered 50 or more graves.

In a report released Monday, USF's Forensic Anthropology Laboratory presents Florida with a chilling portrait of how the state for years warehoused, tortured and enslaved children. While officially focusing on a cemetery called Boot Hill at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, the report goes much deeper, bringing to light old records, letters and news stories that raise questions about how something so wrong could have continued for so long.

There is no embellishing or guesswork. The researchers simply tried to document how many children and teens the school buried and what caused the death of each. Conflicting reports, omitted details and missing records show us a state that didn't much care what happened to these children.

Former inmates — they were not really students, as they were called — had earlier come forward to tell horrifying stories of abuse, whippings and mistreatments. Nothing found in the records or cemetery suggests they were exaggerating.

The school closed last year after 111 years of operation. It had opened in 1900 as the Florida State Reform School, and by 1901 complaints were being heard about the use of children as slave labor and of children chained to walls.

In the early years the population was limited by the fees charged. A county was billed $50 for each child it sent. In financial difficulty, school officials decided to drop the fee and make the children work to earn their keep.

Soon the school was making big profits in timber, bricks and cotton. The USF team discovered that children as young as 10 were put to work in phosphate mines and cotton fields under the state's convict lease program.

The more children they locked up and put to work, the more profit the school made. Rules were expanded to allow a judge to send anyone there, not just criminal offenders. Kids who skipped school, orphans and others whose parents couldn't support them found themselves in a nightmare of forced labor and corporal punishment.

Instead of giving the children a fixed sentence, the school was empowered to decide how long each young inmate needed to be held and worked. It became the largest reform school in the country. That fact alone should have triggered an investigation and review.

It isn't surprising that many children tried to escape. At least seven boys died trying. The report lays out the grim, minimal accounts: November 1932, Oscar Murphy, 15, escaped and was run over by a car. In April 1960, Robert Hewett, 16, escaped and died of gunshot wounds to the chest. In September 1961, Raymont Phillips, 17, escaped and died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Twenty children died within the first three months of being sentenced to the school. Children there died of flu, during surgery, from blood poisoning, from drowning and in fires.

These findings would be shocking enough had they been documented in a foreign land. But for children to have been subjected to such barbaric treatment in our state is sickening.

As we pointed out four years ago, whoever lies in that crude cemetery deserves the dignity of a full investigation into how they got there. And if they were victims of a crime, they deserve the full measure of whatever justice can be delivered.

USF's anthropology experts, with contributions by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Department and Tampa Police Department, have done valuable service. They have detailed what can happen to troubled or unwanted children when they are left in the care of secretive and unaccountable adults who wrongly assumed that the truth would stay buried forever.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
FOX NEWS TAMPA BAY WTSP

THE FOLLOWING VIDEO IS FROM THE TAMPABAY TIMES (ST PETE TIMES) - TAMPABAY.COM (Their written article appears below)
ADDED 12-11-12
USF REPORTS MORE DEATHS AT DOZIER

 

 -------------------------------------------
ABC ACTION NEWS
Published on Dec 10, 2012

School records show as many as 81 boys died at Dozier School for Boys in the Panhandle. USF researchers believe as   many as 98 children lost their lives there.

 

                                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WTSP TAMPA BAY 10 NEWS
DECEMBER 11, 2012

More graves found at Dozier School for Boys



Tampa, Florida -- Using ground penetrating radar and other methods University of South Florida anthropologists and archaeologists say they have now found 50 grave sites on the campus of the Dozier School for Boys. Previously, officials reported 31 boys were buried on school grounds in a cemetery known as Boot Hill.

The findings were somewhat encouraging for the Brooksville family of Thomas Varnadoe. In 1934, Varnadoe died at the school. But there are no records of where 13-year-old is buried and his family is very suspect of how he died. They believe abuse played a role.

"Also, the fact that his death certificate reflects no autopsy and no undertaker was suspicious," Glen Varnadoe, Thomas Varnadoe's nephew told reporters in Monday.

In a 200-page report, USF researchers also say 98 deaths occurred at the state-run reform school between 1914 and 1973; that's 17 more than previously stated.

The researchers have also identified discrepancies in records of the cause and manner of death reported for several boys.

They noted a high number of boys, 20 in all, also died within the first 3 months of being sent to the school.

Varnadoe had been at Dozier just 38 days before he died.

"I don't want to say that it was a cover-up, I think there was sloppy bookkeeping I think that there were efforts though out its history where they did try to project a certain image," says Dr. Erin Kimmerle a USF forensic anthropologist.

But while USF researchers may not be willing to say there was a cover-up to hide brutal abuse at the school, a number of former wards including Robert Straley of Clearwater, say that's exactly what's happened.

Straley says he spent 10 months at the school and was beaten with a leather belt the first night he was there.

Straley says so many burials and deaths should be a red flag that something was very, very wrong at the school.

"Well, this is never going to be a happy story but what is good is it's finally being told," he said.

Varnadoe's family has filed a lawsuit and wants to find Thomas' body so they can have it exhumed and then buried next to his mother in Brooksville. They believe the USF findings help bring them one step closer towards making that a reality.

Dozier, which is located in Marianna, was closed last year after 111 years of operation.

More stories on the Dozier School for Boys:

Torture and murder at Florida reform school  
 
Men who claim they were tortured at reform school visit graves
"White House Boys" sue state over abuse
White House boy (now man) claims abuse
 
                  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
USF researchers find 19 more graves at Dozier School for Boys 
 
By JEROME R. STOCKFISCH, TBO.COM (Tampa Tribune)
Published: December 10, 2012

 

 

Researchers from the University of South Florida say there are at least 50 graves on the grounds of a former Panhandle reform school – higher than a state estimate of 31 graves – and that a second cemetery is likely to exist.

Anthropologists and archaeologists from USF have spent months conducting field work, scientific analysis and ethnographic research at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, which has been the subject of investigations into abuse allegations and suspicious deaths. The school, which opened in 1900, was closed last year.

A USF report contradicts a previous state report that said the identities of all 31 people buried at the school cemetery were confirmed.

"We've always known the day would come when this type of information would come out," said Bryant E. Middleton, who was sent to Dozier in 1959. "And to me, it's going to provide some closure, it's going to provide some emotional relief, and a lot of satisfaction knowing there is a good chance now that state employees who perpetrated these crimes against these children may be held accountable."

Jerry Cooper, sent to the reform school in 1961, also praised the USF investigation. "We have been on the right purpose here all along, and that's why we're not going to stop," Cooper said. "We want to know what happened to these kids."

Children were originally committed to the school for serious criminal offenses, but state law was later amended to include those convicted of minor incidents such as truancy.

Middleton and Cooper are among the so-called "White House Boys," a group of men who claim they were lashed unmercifully with a leather strap in a cottage known on the campus as the "White House" in the 1950s and '60s. Cooper said he barely survived a 135-lash beating in the White House.

Inmates also told of rape, isolation, hog-tying and other atrocities. Some said they saw boys led away, never to return. And they remembered a graveyard, eventually grown-over and containing 31 unmarked crosses made of pipe.

Several White House Boys and the members of a family attempting to find out what happened to their son attended a news conference announcing the results of the investigation today at USF.

"A major part of what anthropologists do is to give voice to people who are voiceless," said Christian Wells, an associate professor at USF who participated in the investigation. "Certainly in this case, these boys and many of these families today don't have the social or political influence to have that voice."

Former Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation into the Dozier school in 2009 after the White House Boys, many now in their 60s, and others told their stories to newspapers. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated, concluding that there was no foul play and that the 31 graves contained the bodies of 29 boys and two adults who were accounted for.

But Erin Kimmerle, a USF assistant professor of anthropology who has worked around the world examining grave sites, applied for and was granted an archeological permit from the state Division of Historical Resources. She also received permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to access the historic land. Historic cemeteries are considered valuable cultural resources and Florida statutes provide protection for them and mandate rights of families to have access.

Kimmerle's group used ground-penetrating radar equipment to search for "anomalies" in the soil at what is known as the Boot Hill cemetery on the school site. If an anomaly was recognized, researchers would dig a surface trench to confirm that different types of soils were mixed in the trench, indicating the ground had been disturbed in a manner similar to the digging of a grave. 

Her group did not exhume any bodies or remove body parts, in keeping with the scope of the USF permit.

Antoinette Jackson, a USF associate professor of anthropology who is also participating in the investigation, said the history of "wholesale segregation" in the South and at the school suggest that there is likely another burial area on the grounds.

"I'm very excited about the next step in this process," Jackson said. "That's a big question for me. I have very limited knowledge of any cemetery being integrated in that time period because segregation was so complete."

The USF group's 118-page report recommends additional ground-penetrating radar work in the area; exhumation and autopsies to determine cause of death and identification; additional research of historical documents; and further interviews with family, employees and others with knowledge of the school.

That could lead to the discovery of more graves on the Dozier school property. But further investigation would require the intervention of an authority such as the state attorney's office, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Governor's office, or a private lawsuit seeking exhumation of graves.  

Kimmerle said her group will have "continued discussions" with those authorities. She said the USF group "would be happy to (continue the work) if they ask us.

www2.tbo.com (c) 2012 Tampa Media Group, Inc

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The Videos below are from My Fox TampaBay, News Channel 13 WTVT, Dec 10, 2012. The accompanying story is further down this page.




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From USF News
Additional Graves Located at Former Reform School  
 

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 10, 2012) A team of University of South Florida anthropologists and archaeologists have found at least 19 more graves at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla., than has been officially reported  

A report by USF researchers notes 19 additional grave sites and discrepancies in records on how some youths died.



USF researchers, Erin Kimmerle, forensic anthropologist and assistant professor of Anthropology; Antoinette Jackson, associate professor of anthropology; and Christian Wells, associate professor of anthropology, address media during a news conference Monday. Photo: Aimee Blodgett | USF News

Once the largest reform school in the nation, the century-old institution has been the subject of numerous investigations into abuse allegations and suspicious deaths of children held there.
 

 USF researchers, Erin Kimmerle, forensic anthropologist and assistant professor of Anthropology; Antoinette Jackson, associate professor of anthropology; and Christian Wells, associate professor of anthropology, address media during a news conference Monday. Photo: Aimee Blodgett | USF News

The USF research team led by Erin Kimmerle, Richard Estabrook, Christian Wells, and Antoinette Jackson released its interim findings Monday as it delivered to state officials a lengthy report detailing the number and location of graves at the school’s Boot Hill Cemetery and surrounding wooded area. 

**** Read the report. Click here. ****  (Webmaster's note:  This is a 118-page report and may take time to load)

**** Prior coverage: Lost in the Woods ****

In several months of field work, scientific analysis and ethnographic research, the team’s research shows an estimated minimum of 50 grave shafts in the area of the cemetery and surrounding wooded area. Previous investigations and records had reported that 31 boys were buried on school grounds. 

Very little documentation about the history of the cemetery or who is buried there exists, nor was the exact locations of individual burials documented.  Previous records indicate 81 deaths were reported at the school; however USF researchers compiled records of 98 deaths which occurred between 1914 and 1973 in historical documents of boys aged 6 to 18 and two adult staff members.

"We found nearly twice as many burials as were thought to exist," Kimmerle said, "but many of them had been lost in the woods under brush and trees."

Kimmerle’s team also identified discrepancies in records of the cause and manner of death reported for several boys. A high number of boys – 20 individuals - died within the first three months of being remanded to the school and the researchers found inconsistency among those who were issued death certificates.

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, also known as the Florida State Reform School or the Florida Industrial School for Boys, has been the subject of investigations and lawsuits over the treatment of boys during its long history. The USF researchers work focused on deaths at the school from 1900 to 1960.

"No understanding of the Florida State Reform School over the course of its history can be understood without consideration of the impact and implications of segregation, particularly those relating to criminal justice," Kimmerle said. "The majority of boys committed to the school and that died there were African American."

USF researchers have spent months mapping the school’s cemetery and using ground-penetrating radar and other methods to look at stratigraphy and soil chemistry to identify the numbers and location of graves in the school’s cemetery.

USF’s team was granted permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to access the historic land, and received a permit for archaeological research to locate and document graves associated with the Boot Hill Cemetery from the state Division of Historical Resources.

USF researchers concluded in their report that additional research and preservation of the site are needed to recognize the historical significance of human and civil rights issues in Florida in the area of juvenile justice and the rights of families to have accountability and transparency as important aspects of restorative justice.

Kimmerle is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology; Estabrook is the former Director of the Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archeology Network; Wells is an Associate Professor of Anthropology; and Jackson is an Associate Professor of Anthropology.
University of South Florida
http://www.usf.edu/
 

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USF REPORT REVEALS MORE DEATHS AND GRAVES AT DOZIER THAN STATE ADMITTED
By Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer - TampaBay Times - Tampabay.com
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 TAMPA —

A team of anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of South Florida has found far more graves on the campus of the state's oldest reform school than previously reported by state officials. 

In a report released this morning, the team said it found 50 unmarked graves on the grounds of the state-run facility in the panhandle town of Marianna using ground penetrating radar and scientific trenching during a months-long survey of a school cemetery known as Boot Hill. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the cemetery in 2009 and concluded the cemetery contained just 31 graves.

The USF team, led by forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, also said that school records show there were at least 98 deaths at the school between 1914 and 1973. The FDLE investigation uncovered just 81.

The school was founded in 1900 and operated continuously until the state shut it down in June 2011. Once the nation's largest reformatory, the school — known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the Florida School for Boys, and, more recently, the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys — has been the subject of numerous investigations and home to dozens of scandals.

Child prisoners were tortured, kept in solitary confinement for weeks and beaten with a weighted, leather paddle in a dank, cinder-block building known as the White House. In 2008, five former wards from the 1950s and '60s made public their stories of being sexually abused and beaten until their underwear became embedded in the wounds on their buttocks. Hundreds of men then came forward with similar stories.

They also told of peers who disappeared from campus without explanation, raising the possibility of homicide and secret burial on the campus. Former Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation into the claims in 2008, after newspapers published the accounts of the former wards. The following year, the FDLE concluded its investigation and released a report suggesting there was no evidence of foul play and no secret burials, and that all deaths were accounted for in school records, casting doubt on the claims made by the former wards.

The USF team found evidence of boys being leased to locals for work and returned to the school terminally ill. It found documents that suggest those in charge of the school encouraged state lawmakers to grow the inmate population as a way to boost revenue. Besides operating a farm, the boys made bricks which were sold locally, and the school's print shop for many years was responsible for printing state documents.

One superintendent in 1906 complained to officials that "having so few inmates makes the crop come in slow." The population skyrocketed in the following years, despite repeated state investigations that found children being chained like prisoners and living in squalid conditions. State law changed to allow boys to be imprisoned for non-criminal activity, such as dependency, truancy and incorrigibility.

Among the USF team's findings:

• The school often under-reported the number of deaths in its biennial reports to state officials. In 1926, for example, the school reported four deaths to the state, but the school's attendance ledgers show six deaths.

• Burial location was unspecified for nearly three times more African-American children than white children.

• Even though Florida required death certificates starting in 1917, several boys who died later were never issued death certificates. The team found death certificates for just 47 of the 98 known deaths.

• It's likely a second "clandestine" graveyard exists somewhere on the school's 1,400-acre campus because customs in the first half of the 20th century dictated racially segregated burial grounds.

• Burial information was listed in school records in 65 cases in which boys died, leaving unknown the final resting place for 22 children. Cause of death was often listed as "unknown" and death records were often in conflict with other documentation.

• More than 30 percent of the deaths occurred within 90 days of admission.

• The two youngest boys who died in state custody were six years old. One had been admitted for delinquency, one as a dependent. The boy sent to Marianna from Washington County for delinquency, George Grissam, had been sentenced "Until 21 Years Old," but died at the school five years later, in 1923.

The team is continuing to investigate the possibility of a second lost cemetery on the property. Relatives of two boys who died in custody are supporting the effort and wish to have those boys' remains found, exhumed and relocated.

The USF team also wants to do additional ground-penetrating radar exploration, archaeological test excavations and horizontal clearing with bulldozers to determine the exact locations of graves. Eventually, Kimmerle wants to exhume the remains from graves to perform full skeletal autopsies and forensic pathological analysis to identify the remains and determine cause of death.

Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.

 To read more stories from the Times' award-winning report "For Their Own Good," go to http://www.tampabay.com/fortheirowngood
 
© 2012 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 
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Researchers find more graves at Fla. reform school

Posted: Dec 10, 2012 5:42 PM EST
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -
Fox TV 13 TampaBay 
 

For 75 years, Richard Varnadoe has lived without his brother, Thomas.

"Lived my entire life practically without him," he said.

Now at the age of 83, Varnadoe hopes he lives to see the day his brother's gravesite is identified.

Two of his brothers, Hubert and Thomas were sent to Marianna School for Boys. It was 1934. Richard says they were arrested for a trumped up charge of trespassing.

"Basically they were found walking through a neighbor's backyard," Glen Varnadoe, Richard Varnadoe's nephew.

The boys arrived on September 22nd, 1934. Thirty-eight days later, Thomas was dead.

His death certificate on file with the state says he died from pneumonia. But his family says he was healthy and not sick when he left.

"This is awfully emotional for me. 75 years, he's been buried there."

They hired an attorney to stop the state from selling the property and allow USF to do their investigation.

"I want my uncle brought home and given a proper burial. And that's really what we're after. That's what this family is after."

A team of USF researchers spent months mapping a cemetery, plotting gravesites. They found at least 50 graveshafts, 19 more than state records show.

But they found them on what was called the black cemetery. Segregation meant blacks and whites were buried separately.

"So one of the open questions is, is there another cemetery? Because the cemetery that has been found was found on what was called the Black side or the north side of campus," said Antoinette Jackson, a USF cultural anthropologist.

USF anthropologist Erin Kimmerle says the school records were inconsistent. There were no good records on how many boys died there, what the cause of death was and where their graves were located.

A group of 350 men believe many of the boys were killed. They say they were beaten by school guards in a building called "The White House"

"I think the more that they find, they might have to at some point, say yeah something bad happened here," said Robert Straley.

They hope the state will allow USF to continue investigating.

"Oh yeah, absolutely, you better believe it, because that's the only way you're going to get at the truth," Straley said.

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JC FLORIDIAN - JACKSON COUNTY FLORIDIAN

University of South Florida releases Dozier report
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 5:30 pm 

The University of South Florida released its 119-page report Monday on the school’s investigation into “Boot Hill Cemetery,” trying to solve multiple mysteries, including whether there are previously unknown graves in the old cemetery at Dozier School for Boys, once the largest reformatory in the United States.

The report was authored by USF representatives Erin Kimmerle, Richard Estabrook, E. Christian Wells and Antoinette Jackson.

The investigators at the university say they have been able to find 50 graft shafts, while previous reports through the years have listed only 45 graves on the site, but the report indicates that there’s a long way to go if full knowledge about the cemetery is ever to be gained.

“Throughout, the historical records are incomplete and often provide conflicting information. The cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown,” the report stated. The team did seek expert opinions on several of the deaths, but cited the need for more research and preservation of the site. The state had previously announced plans to sell the Dozier property; that had been put on hold for the conclusion of this study, and it is not known what will happen to it ultimately.

The USF team also reported there are 22 deaths at Dozier for which no recorded burial location could be found, and indicated that more study is needed to determine whether any other burial locations exist on the grounds of Dozier.

The team used interviews, archaeological and forensic anthropology techniques interviews, along with field probes to conduct the study in trying to delineate the boundaries of the cemetery.

It cites conflicting reports, continued public suspicion about the circumstances surrounding some of the deaths, and states that more research is need to answer lingering questions.

The report can be read in its entirety by downloading the 119-page PDF file here.

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THE MIAMI HERALD
Posted on Mon, Dec. 10, 2012
Report on Dozier School raises new questions about deaths
By Carol Marbin Miller
cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com

About100 boys may have died between 1900 and the 1970s at a controversial youth prison in the Florida Panhandle, including seven boys who perished following escape attempts, according to a new report that raises troubling questions about the now-shuttered Dozier School for Boys.

As state juvenile justice administrators seek to sell the Arthur G. Dozier property in rural Marianna, archaeologists and anthropologists with the University of South Florida are conducting an exhaustive archeological and historical analysis of the site in an effort to locate the burial grounds of scores of children. In a 114-page report released Monday, researchers concluded that a minimum of 98 children died at Dozier between 1911 and 1973.

The largest gravesite is on the north side of the prison camp, next to a garbage dump on what for years was called Dozier’s “colored” section. Though the cemetery holds 31 graves marked with PVC pipe crosses, the report said the markers do not correspond to the actual interments, and it is likely that an additional 20 children are buried there.
Dozier, which opened as the Florida State Reform School on Jan. 1, 1900, remained in continuous operation until June 30, 2011, when the state Department of Juvenile Justice shut it down amid a years-long controversy over the physical and sexual abuse of children.

Operating with a permit issued by the state Division of Historical Resources, the USF team has only until the end of January to complete its project In early January, USF researchers will return to Dozier’s south parcel, which housed white children and contains the prison’s administrative buildings. Because Dozier remained segregated for much of its existence, researchers believe they will find additional grave sites once they look more closely.
DJJ secretary Wansley Walters said in a statement Monday her agency will continue to cooperate with the university research team.

“I am profoundly aware of the historical significance” of Dozier, Walters said. “One of the decisions I am most proud of is that this administration closed [it] in 2011.”

In the fall of 2008, a dozen middle-aged men from throughout the state came forward and said they were raped or mercilessly beaten — or both — at the Marianna campus. The “White House Boys,” as some of the men dubbed themselves after the squat white-washed cottage where they were whipped, have since spawned at least two books and a movement to extract some type of compensation from the Florida Legislature.

Men who were incarcerated there described being whipped with a metal-lined leather strap, sometimes leading to unconsciousness. Some said they were taken to the “rape room,” where they said officers sodomized boys of their choosing.

In October 2008, about a half-dozen of the men returned to Dozier. There, DJJ administrators and Dozier staff dedicated a plaque to them and planted a young crepe myrtle tree alongside the now decrepit White House building. Some of the men sobbed as they toured the inside of the cottage, where they described brutal beatings to a small gathering of reporters.

Dozier records reviewed by USF show that more than 50 children were buried on the school grounds, and 31 were shipped elsewhere for burial. School administrators did not record the burial location for 22 other children.
Even in death, the black children at Dozier received unequal treatment: African-American children were three times more likely to be buried in an unspecified location than were their white peers, the report said.
Prison records suggest administrators minimized the number of deaths that occurred there in reports to the state — especially when it came to white children.

Biennial reports to state lawmakers early in the 20th century “often listed fewer deaths than what is listed in the school ledgers,” the report said. In a July 1926 report, for example, the school superintendent told lawmakers that four children had died in 1925 and 1926 — all of them black. But school ledgers showed six children had died during that time, including two white boys.

One of the boys whose death was not listed in 1926 was a child named Thomas Curry, a white boy who died of blunt trauma to the head, according to a death certificate. Records said Curry died away from the prison campus after he escaped.

Records suggest those who escaped from the North Florida prison sometimes met a violent death: Two boys who escaped died of blunt trauma, and two died of gunshot wounds to the head or chest.

Erin H. Kimmerle, an associate professor and forensic anthropologist who led the project, said it did not surprise her that some escapees were treated harshly. Decades ago, she said, rural prisoners were largely treated as a captive labor pool for local agriculture and industry, and records suggest Dozier’s children may have served a similar purpose.
Changes in state law and policy that allowed “incorrigible” children and even orphans to be sent to the reform school, and required longer sentences for inmates, suggest “that financial incentives were underlying motivating factors” for the youth prison’s operation, the report said. In 1906, for example, a superintendent complained he lacked adequate prisoners to harvest the corn crop.

Children put out to work were overseen by local labor bosses, who were given broad authority to punish the children as they saw fit, said Kimmerle.

“I do think that, at the time, it was lawful for them to shoot those who ran away,” Kimmerle said.

http://www.miamiherald.com

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/10/v-print/3135767/report-on-dozier-school-raises.html#storylink=cpy

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Researchers find more graves at Fla. reform school
 
Monday, Dec 10, 2012 06:45 PM EST
By BILL KACZOR,  Associated Press - (This associated press article was posted in MANY newspapers in the U.S. and around the world, as well as on-line)

Anthropologists have found evidence of 98 deaths and more graves than previously identified at a now-closed state reform school in the Panhandle, according to a report released Monday.

An interim report released by the University of South Florida in Tampa says the researchers found at least 50 gravesites at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, about 60 miles west of Tallahassee.

That’s 19 more than had been identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a 2010 investigative report. The university’s researchers also believe there may be even more gravesites than those they’ve found so far.

The FDLE was unable to substantiate or refute claims that inmate deaths were caused by the school’s staff, or that staff members physically and sexually abused them. The school opened in 1900 and was closed last year as a cost-cutting measure.

The anthropologists, led by Associate Professor Erin Kimmerle, used historical documents to verify the deaths of two adult staff members and 96 children — ranging in age from 6 to 18 — from 1914 through 1973.

“The cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown,” the researchers wrote. In those cases where causes could be documented the most common were infectious disease, fires, physical trauma and drowning.

Other mortality patterns showed trends of deaths occurring after escapes and within three months of arriving at the school.

Records indicate that 45 individuals were buried on school grounds from 1914 through 1952 while 31 bodies were sent elsewhere for burial. No burial locations are listed for 22 cases.

The lack of information on who’s buried at the school and how they died has led to “uncertainty, speculation, and folklore regarding these deaths,” the report says.

The gravesites were found in an area known as “Boot Hill,” but the anthropologists suspect there may be more burials elsewhere on the 1,400 acre campus.

Then-Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the FDLE investigation in 2008 after former students from the 1950s and 1960s claimed they and other inmates were beaten and abused in other ways. They called themselves “the White House boys” because they said the abuse took place in a small white building on the campus.

The university’s report is based on archival research, interviews with former students, family members and staff, remote sensing, soil chemistry, archaeological excavation and consultation with experts in forensic pathology, fire investigation and integrative biology.

The report recommends further research including the use of ground penetrating radar in areas adjacent to Boot Hill, test excavations and the exhumation of remains for skeletal autopsies to determine causes of death.

The cemetery currently has 31 white metal crosses to mark graves, but they were installed in the early 1960s or mid-1990s long after the burials took place. The markers also do not correspond to the actual gravesites, which were not originally marked.

“Very little documentation about the history of the cemetery or who is buried there exists, and the exact locations of individual burials were never documented,” the report says.

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 NBC News WFLA TAMPA  |  Aired on December 11, 2012

Scores of graves found at boys’ reform school
After months of studying the grounds of Florida's largest reform school, a team of anthropologists identify 19 more graves suggesting more boys were allegedly tortured and killed there
.
WFLA's Yolanda Fernandez reports.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Abuses at infamous Florida boys reform school even more widespread, report says
By M. Alex Johnson, NBC News

Scientists have found 19 previously unknown grave shafts on the grounds of a notorious Florida reform school, suggesting that many more boys died there amid brutal conditions than had previously been known, the researchers said Monday. 

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, which was also known as the Florida State Reform School, closed in June 2011 after state investigators and the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division confirmed widespread abuse over many decades.

The state attributed its decision to close the school to budgetary reasons. Yet long before then, the institution had been the target of investigations and lawsuits alleging not only physical and mental abuse but also forced labor, rape and even murder of the young charges sent to its care since it opened in 1900.

The prominent writer Roger Dean Kiser, author of "The White House Boys — An American Tragedy," about the horrors he experienced while incarcerated there in the 1950s as a child, has called the school a "concentration camp for little boys." He wrote that "a devil was hiding behind every tree, every building and even behind every blade of manicured grass."


They're called the White House Boys because much of the abuse occurred in an 11-room building on the school grounds known as the White House, where former students say they were beaten with leather straps. A group of the former students sued the state in 2010, but the case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

Previous investigations and records had reported that 31 boys were buried on school grounds, and that most of them died in a fire and an influenza outbreak at the school in the early 1900s. But researchers at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, say they now estimate there are at least 50 grave shafts in the area of the school's cemetery and the surrounding woods. Some graves may have been the final resting place for more than one boy, the researchers said in an interim report released Monday.

Records recovered and examined by the researchers indicate that at least 96 boys and two adults died at the school from 1914 to 1973. Most of boys who were committed to the school and died there were African-American.

But that may be only the tip of the iceberg: The researchers didn't have access to student records after 1960, when such documents became subject to privacy laws. Moreover, researchers couldn't test the entire area because of overgrowth and vegetative conditions, they said. 

And more chillingly, there may be other, secret graveyards somewhere on the grounds, given the number of still-unaccounted-for cases and the practice of segregating cemeteries during the first half of the last century, Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor of anthropology at the university, said on a conference call with reporters. It's highly unlikely that white boys were buried with black boys during those decades, but as yet, the researchers haven't found a previously hidden whites-only cemetery.

"I didn't realize going in how much of a story of civil rights it was," Kimmerle said.

The research team used ground-penetrating radar and other methods to map the school's cemetery and chemically analyzed the soil to identify the number of graves. 

"We anticipated finding about 25 to 30 grave shafts," said Christian Wells, an assistant professor of anthropology who led the anthropological work at the site, "but in fact we found a minimum of 50" — all of them on the north side of the campus, called Boot Hill, where African-American boys were segregated.

 full picture of the sheer scale of the abuses remains difficult to paint, because there are significant gaps and discrepancies in the records, "and the cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown," the report said.

"Many questions persist about who is buried at the school and the circumstances surrounding their deaths," the report said. But Kimmerle said the team had determined that at least 20 boys died within the first three months of having been remanded to the school's custody — probably because they were unable to cope with the crowding and the conditions — and that burial locations were unspecified for nearly three times more African-American boys than for white boys.


Scientists have found 19 previously unknown grave shafts on the grounds of a notorious Florida reform school, suggesting that many more boys died there amid brutal conditions than had previously been known, the researchers said Monday.

MSNBC.COM 12-11-12

Unaccounted graves found at former reform school in Florida

By Saundra Amrhein 
 
TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Investigators in Florida using ground-penetrating radar and soil samples said on Monday they had found at least 50 graves - 19 more than officially reported - on the grounds of a former state reform school for boys.

The Dozier School has been the target of numerous allegations of abuse and mysterious deaths of children during the more than 100 years of its existence.

In a report to the state issued on Monday, anthropologists and archeologists at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa said their research has identified evidence of more grave shafts in and around a cemetery at the now-shuttered school in the Panhandle city of Marianna.

The research team plans to return to the site in January to continue the research, possibly leading to exhumation of human remains.

Relatives of a boy who died and was buried at the school under mysterious circumstances in the 1930s attended a press conference to present the report's findings. They are seeking to reclaim his remains.

Also in attendance were several men who were sent to the school as teenagers and said they endured repeated severe lashings with a leather strap until they bled in a building dubbed the "White House."

"First and foremost to us are the rights of the families and people's rights to have justice and accountability for their families," said assistant anthropology professor Erin Kimmerle, one of the lead investigators.

.A 2008-2009 study by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that relied on the school's own records reported that 81 people had died at the school and 31 were buried on school property, their graves today marked by white metal crosses.

USF researchers and students found records of 98 deaths of boys between ages 6 and 18 plus two adult staff members at the school between 1914 and 1973.

'ETERNALLY GRATEFUL'

The research that began in early 2011 and included an examination of state death records, revealed missing, conflicting and "sloppy" record-keeping about the people buried at Dozier and how they died. The institution, the largest reform school in the state, opened in 1900 and closed in 2011.
 
..The most common causes of death were disease, fire, physical trauma and drowning. But seven died during escape attempts - including one 16-year-old who suffered gunshot wounds to the chest - and 20 died within the first three months of arrival, the report said.

"We as a family are eternally grateful," Glen Varnadoe said after the press conference. His uncle, Thomas Varnadoe, died at the school in 1934 one month after he was remanded there at age 13 along with Glen Varnadoe's father. Both were accused of "malicious trespassing" through a woman's yard on the way home from school.

"We really have no idea where Thomas is buried, on the north side or the south side of the campus," said Varnadoe, adding that his father was too traumatized to speak about his time at the school except at the very end of his life.

That decision to close Dozier followed investigations of abuse that had dogged the school since the year after it opened.

Wansley Walters, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said in the statement that the department "will continue to work with the researchers at the University of South Florida on how best to provide them access to the site."

The state's attempt to sell the property at auction was halted this year by a judge after the Varnadoe family filed a lawsuit regarding Thomas' remains.  
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IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME ON OUR SITE, PLEASE CONTINUE READING, TO SEE MUCH MORE OF THE STORY..  ALSO, FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS ON THE REST OF THE SITE.  KEEP COMING BACK, SINCE ANY PRESS WE FIND ABOUT THE GRAVES WILL BE POSTED HERE          
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 URGENT ATTENTION! If any man was at Marianna Florida School for Boys in 1962 or 1963 and knew Wayne Tillis or Eddie Tillis, please contact Ben Montgomery of the St. Petersburg Times / Tampa Bay Times IMMEDIATELY with any information you may have. Or, call Jerry Cooper at 239-542-3831.  This is VERY, VERY IMPORTANT!!

SEVERAL ARTICLES NEW TO SITE AS OF 10-24-12

THE INQUISITR - Oct 15, 2012

House Of Horrors: Nearly 50 Graves Found On Arthur Dozier School For Boys Grounds

Nearly 50 graves found on the Arthur Dozier School for Boys grounds in Florida offer clues to solving the mystery surrounding the missing bodies of former students. The alleged abuse which occurred at the reform school for boys reportedly left approximately 80 children unaccounted for — until now.

While the bodies of 50 boys are cloaked in secrecy, the remains at the small cemetery may point investigators on a path to finally finding some answers about what happened inside the gates of the now defunct facility.

University of South Florida anthropologist, Dr. Erin Kimmerle, had this to say about the Arthur Dozier School for Boys:

“These are children who came her and died, for one reason or another, and have just been lost in the woods. We found burials within the current marked cemetery and then we found burials that extend beyond that. For the majority, there’s no record of what happened to them. It’s about restoring dignity.”

Dr. Kimmerle is the leader in a research effort to find out what happened at the reformatory for boys in Marianna, according to the Miami Herald. Through the use of ground-penetrating radar, the team has been able to unearth 49 graves so far, leading to the discovery of 18 bodies, Radar Online notes.

The startling abuse allegations at the Arthur Dozier School for Boys include claims of rape and violent beatings. When the boys misbehaved, they were allegedly sent to the “White House” a building comprised of cinder block, as punishment, prompting the phrase “White House Boys” to refer to the scores of young men who claim they were taken to the structure and severely abused.

Ovell Smith Krell, 83, told the investigation team that her brother, Owen, was sent to the Florida reform school after he ran away from home and stole a car in 1940. The family never saw Owen again; they were told that the boy spent the night outside, died due to a cold induced by exposure, and had been buried.














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CRIME LIBRARY - OCTOBER 19, 2012

More Graves Found at Notorious Reform School

For more than a century, the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla., took in wayward youths in the hopes of reforming them and returning them to society. New scientific research shows that at least 49 of them ended up in a schoolyard graveyard instead.

The little plot of land known as the Boot Hill Cemetery adjacent to the now-defunct school features 31 crosses atop unmarked graves of the boys who died at the Dozier. However, records show that nearly 100 boys died over the school’s history, so many remain unaccounted for. Enter Dr. Erin Kimmerle, a University of South Florida anthropologist, who is leading a high-tech team of scientists in a search of the former school grounds.

Using lasers and digital imaging, Kimmerle’s team has so far found an additional 18 remains in the ground, bringing the total up to 49 graves. “We found burials within the current marked cemetery, and then we found burials that extend beyond that,” Kimmerle said. She hopes some families who have no record of their lost sons will have a chance to find the truth behind their loss: “It’s about restoring dignity,” she said. 

A 2009 Florida state investigation experts believe the numerous corpses might have been the result of an influenza epidemic and a fire at the school. 

But former Dozier inmates like Robert Straley argue the deaths at the school weren’t the result of accident or illness: “From 1900 to 1910, God knows how many died! Because the conditions were even worse. The boys were in welded chains, they were beaten if they didn’t do a man’s work, which means they got beat every day, they were thrown in with the men at night and raped, bad food, sickness…"

George Owen Smith. Family photo.
In the nightmarish world of the Dozier School, the worst punishments were inflicted in the a concrete-block building known as the “White House.” Robert Straley emerged from his time as a one of the so-called White House Boys to speak out against his experience. 

Others weren’t so lucky. The family of George Owen Smith recently discovered that the boy’s grave was one of those marked with a dingy white cross. He had been sent to Dozier in the 1940′s but died at the school. Smith’s surviving sister Ovell Smith Krell recalled that a classmate of Smith’s told her Owen had been gunned down trying to escape. “I believe to this day that they shot my brother that night, and I think they probably killed him and brought him back to the school and buried him,” Krell said. 

The Dozier School was closed in 2011 as a direct result of state budget cuts, but the school had faced a string of abuse complaints throughout its history. In 1982, officials were reprimanded for hogtying boys, and a 2009 inspection concluded the school had a decades-long ”culture of violence and abuse.” The mistreatment began in the school’s very early days: in 1903, it was discovered that adminisNewstrators often shackled their young charges in leg irons.
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Florida reform school for Boys and Magdalene Laundries share shocking similarities
Oct 16th, 2012 | By Miz.Chellie | Las Vegas World News

CNN has printed a chilling exposé on what happened at the now defunct Florida Industrial School for Boys In Mariana Florida.
The account details death, and unmarked graves. The Florida reform school for Boys and Magdalena Laundries share
shocking similarities.  
    There is a lot of mystery as to exactly what happened to the students at the Florida reform school for Boys, however, what is
clear is that many, many children died.  
    According to CNN, a 2009 state investigation determined there was no evidence of criminal activity connected with any of the
deaths at the school or abusive treatment.  
    Why then are there so many bodies buried and perhaps another grave where black students may have been buried?      
    Former students, who are now senior citizens, have come forward telling chilling stories of abuse, beatings, killings and the
disappearance of students.
    
Florida industrial school for boys more graves uncovered.
    
The “white house boys“, as they are called, say that they were taken to a building where they received severe punishment.
    
They also say that they witnessed murders and that some of the students, after receiving severe beatings, disappeared
during the 50s and the 60s.
    The “white house boys” claim that the abuse was at the hands of reform school workers and administrators.
    
After the 2009 investigation, authorities said they would not be performing any exhumations of the graves.
    
Dr. Erin Kimmerle is heading up the investigation about what really happened at the Florida industrial school for boys calling it
a humanitarian effort to identify and remember those who died.
    
She and her team are using sophisticated equipment to analyze the grounds beneath the former school and uncover buried
bodies.
    
Apparently school records were sparse and there were claims that many died at the facility in a 1918 flu outbreak.
    
A disturbing case involves the death of Owen Krell who reportedly ran away from home in 1940.
    
He was sent to the reform school and his family received a letter from the school saying that he had run away. They then say
they subsequently received a phone call saying that their son had been found dead.
    
The family traveled to the school and when they arrived, school officials at the Florida reform school allegedly told them that
their son was already buried. According to the family, they were told that the body was so decomposed that they would not be
able to identify him so they took him straight out to the school and buried him.
    
His sister believes that they shot him and brought him back to the school and buried him on the school grounds.
    
Hearing about what possibly, and very likely, occurred at the now defunct Florida Industrial School for Boys, brings to mind
the unspeakable treatment that children received at The Magdelene Laundries in Ireland.
    
The Magdelene Laundries abuse against women     
    
In 2004, an order of nuns in Dublin, Ireland sold off part of their convent to real estate developers.
    
It was then discovered that on the property there were 133 women buried in unmarked graves.
    
The women were reportedly virtual prisoners behind the convent walls and were sentenced to a life of servitude in the
Magdelene Laundries for either committing very minor crimes or simply being “too pretty”.
    
The Magdelene Laundries was a huge laundry business that was run by the Sisters of Mercy nuns.
    
Young women were forced into servitude and tortured, all in the name of God.  The women worked without compensation,
were starved, and physically and emotionally abused.
    
The last laundry was closed in September of 1996.
    
Florida reform school for Boys and Magdalene Laundries share shocking similarities demonstrating a cruel pattern or abuse
and even death at a time when parents blindly trusted the care of their children to “officials”.
    
The families that think their children might be buried at the old Florida school for boys may decide to petition the state to ask
for grave sites to be exhumed.
    
We will probably never know the true tally of how many died at both Florida reform school for Boys and Magdalene Laundries
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PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
Interest Builds in 'The White House Boys' 
By Paige Crutcher | Oct 18, 2012

WFSU  State News 8:41 pm Tue October 16, 2012.

Close To 50 Unmarked Graves Found, Linked To Abuse Claims At Infamous Dozier School
By Sascha Cordner

                                       LISTEN HERE: 

The current crosses mark only a portion of the actual gravesites in the Boot Hill cemetery.
Credit University of South Florida

Archeologist Rich Estabrook guides the Ground Penetrating Radar as USF Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle watches the results.
Enlarge imageCredit University of South FloridaThis is a radar gram or image of data collected from the previous trip up to the cemetery. The red portions indicate anomalies or possible burials.Listen 00:00
02:55Several University of South Florida researchers discovered what could be as many as 49 graves belonging to boys connected to the infamous Dozier School for Boys. The graves are of those believed to be killed at the school, from abuse gone too far. And, the discovery was made at an old small cemetery in the north Florida town of Marianna.

At a small cemetery known as Boot Hill Cemetery near the Dozier School for Boys, there are 31 crosses for the boys who died at the institution, that was shut down in June of last year. Several investigations into the school have shown there was no abuse, but men, calling themselves the White House Boys, who claim they survived the abuse, say there are many people unaccounted for.

“From 1900 to 1910, God knows how many died! Because the conditions were even worse. The boys were in welded chains, they were beaten if they didn’t do a man’s work, which means they got beat every day, they were thrown in with the men at night and raped, bad food, sickness…"

Robert Straley is one of the so-called White House Boys, who says he was abused in the mid-1960s when he was just 13 years old in a room known as the “White House.” The now 66-year-old says records show 84 boys died at the institution between 1910 and the mid-1970s. Ten years before that period, there are no records. So, Straley says he and other survivors from the school believe there could be hundreds of boys buried who haven’t been found.

That’s why University of South Florida researcher Erin Kimmerle decided to conduct a search in that area and see for herself. And, so far, what she’s discovered in just months, is 49 graves in a wooded area off the Interstate. It’s a discovery Straley says that leaves him with mixed emotions:

“Well, I was surprised that she found them as fast as she did. But, I wasn’t surprised that she found them because we’ve known all along that there are graves all over that facility," said Straley. "The brutality there is so bad and was so bad, and it’s 111 year old actually, that not every boy who went into that torture room came out alive simply because of shock from one of these beatings, where they gave you 60, 70, or 100 lashes, enough to kill you.”

Using what’s called “ground penetrating radar,” Richard Estabrook, who’s also been helping with the search, says researchers collect data that is then spliced together for a 3D picture of what’s below the surface:

“So, what we were looking is not so much the bones or the coffins or anything of that sort, but the grave shafts that were dug into the soil. Where the soil was dug out and the graves were put in, that soil is of a different density than the soil around it. It’s been disturbed and that reflects very well on the radar," said Estabrook.

And, lead researcher from USF Kimmerle says while they’re continuing the search, they have their next step in mind.

“What is it that the family wants to happen? What does the community want to happen? How should they be marked? How should they be commemorated? Those are very important questions, "remarked Kimmerle. "And, not questions that I can answer right now. It’s ultimately up to those families.”

The search almost came to a halt when the state Department of Juvenile Justice made moves to sell the property. But, one family of one of the missing boys got a judge to halt the sale until the remains of their loved one is found. The state is also working with the researchers to give them access to the rest of the grounds of the schools to help with the search.

Several investigations about the abuse initially showed there was no abuse at the school, until a federal probe last year indicated that there was, and the same could be rampant in the state’s juvenile justice system.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.
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Article that appeared in the Spanish newspaper LaInformacion
(this was translated, so the English doesn't always translate precisely) 

Here is a link to the original story (in Spanish) http://noticias.lainformacion.com/mundo/el-reformatorio-del-horror-mas-de-50-cadaveres-enterrados-en-un-antiguo-centro-para-jovenes-problematicos-de-eeuu_gmyRio4KvLrafq7k9wmVG4/

The reformatory horror: more than 50 bodies buried in an ancient Center for young U.S. problem
Roberto Arnaz
Monday, 15/10/12 - 14: 49
The researchers have confirmed that 84 children died in the Centre, in whose records consist only 31 deaths.

Some Alumni claim that the remains found belong to teenagers who died victims of ill-treatment and that officials made to disappear.

Since 1900, children hardest of  Florida, those which became the label's incorrigible, ended up with their bones in the Industrial School for young Arthur g. Dozier of Marianna, a small town just 100 kilometers from Tallahassee, the State capital.
The only crime of these supposedly violent young people was to be orphans, come from households with parents too authoritarian or be victims of abuse, physical and sexual. It was like, all they ended up doing forced labor on their farms with the connivance of generations of politicians and local judges.
When arrived at their new home none of these teenagers could even imagine the nightmare that there was waiting for him. A nice and care road asphalt, surrounded by vegetation now that piss greenery, bound for new students to the halls that housed.
On the outside, everything was idyllic. The Arthur G. Dozier Centre looked like a college campus. The huge and colorful buildings of Orange brick, Olympic pool, or the perfectly cut grass football field served to reassure the kids arriving there. They were the perfect alibi to conceal nearly a century of juvenile abuse.
"Behind all that beauty hid bloody beatings, rape and even murder", says Roger Dean Kiser, student of the Industrial School between 1959 and 1961. Tells on Center abused Alumni website , Kiser came to the reformatory with only 12 years. Accustomed to the orphanages as a child, he thought that his life would be there. Soon he realized how wrong that was.
A torture cell  
"The demon was hiding behind every tree, every building and every blade of grass," says the now sexagenarian resident who, despite the last time, still remembers as if it were yesterday "the thick concrete walls of a small building which was called 'White House' and which were tortured anyone who skipped the rules".
Shortly after arriving in the Industrial School for young Arthur g. Dozier, Kiser visited for the first time that encalada Dungeon. According to the account in his book 'The children of the White House, an American tragedy', two caregivers grabbed him by the arms and dragged you to the damn building before the eyes of 50 of his colleagues silenced by fear.
The punishment lasted just a few minutes, but that 12 year old boy seemed hours. "Everything happened in slow motion", recalls Kiser, who says that first he was beaten, then you are stifled and finally gave dozens of lashes throughout the body until it fell almost unconscious. Only then led him to see the doctor.
Complaint, investigation and closing
Half a century after its entry into the Industrial School for young, Roger Dean Kiser was decided to recount his experiences in a book that hit the stores in January 2009 and led to a thorough investigation by the Governor of the State, Charlie Christ.
At the end the concentration camp for troubled children permanently closed its doors on June 30, 2011 after more than one century of controversial history. Since then, educators and students have given prominence to the anthropologists of the University of the South of Florida (USF).
Professor Richard Estabrook and his team have confirmed that 84 children died in the Centre, in whose records consist only 31 'official' deaths, remembered by a few anonymous wooden crosses in a small cemetery located in the back garden of the complex.
These remains belong to children who lost their lives by accidents or natural causes, including those who died handmade in the 1914 fire or who died victims of the 1918 flu outbreak.
The rest of the 'missing' yet nothing is known. Most of these kids 'evaporated' lto 1960s, the hardest between the walls of the re-education complex, lies under the ground in a nearby forest.
New findings
Now the researchers combed the land adjacent to the infamous 'White House' in search of the remains of the at least 50 children allegedly killed by torture inflicted on them by their caregivers and that never seen it again. For now, anthropologists at the University of South Florida have already discovered 18 tombs with remains that even not have been identified.
Despite the progress, the case regarding the torture of the Industrial School for young Arthur g. Dozier won't have a simple finish not close. Researchers and the authorities are faced with an unexpected problem: the law prevents that the remnants exhumen without the permission of the families of the victims, which will cause delays in debugging of responsibilities and the punishment to the guilty

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 ABC CHANNEL 27 - WTXLTV TALLAHASSEE
Extra bodies found buried at site of former Marianna boys school
Last Update: October 15, 2012 2:17 pm 



One of the metal crosses found at the cemetary TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB)-- Research being conducted at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna may suggest that  more were bodies buried on the property than previously recorded.

Dr. Erin Kimmerle along with a team researchers from the University of South Florida are working to document the Historic Boot Hill Cemetery, which is located behind deep in the woods behind the former boys school. In that area are thirty one metal crosses, and historic records and folklore suggest that about 31 bodies are buried there. However, through archeological research like ground penetrating radar and trenching, Kimmerle and her team have found 18 more bodies buried on the property.

"The information that's known ... really came from the FDLE investigation from 2008-2009 where they went through many of the same historical records and put together a report.  We've built on that, but we've found more than what's issued in the report," Kimmerle said.

There are an estimated 49 bodies buried on the property, raising questions about at least 22 bodies Kimmerle says have no burial records. These questions are the same ones a group of former students known as the "White House Boys" have been demanding the answer to for years.

"We were brutalized as young children. There were many children that were taken to the white house and brutally beaten. Some of them never returned," Former student Bryant Middleton said.

The White House Boys believe the findings validate what they've been saying from the start.

"The lawlessness that went on at that school, the unaccountability of children, the unmerciful acts that were perpetrated against young children is now coming to light," Middleton said.  "It's surfacing as if the children in the graves were screaming out and are now being heard."

In 2008-2009 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an investigation into the abuse allegation But concluded that no crimes were committed in association with the deaths.

WMBB, a Panama City ABC affiliate, reached out to the FDLE for a statement and representatives said that they were aware of the ongoing work that has been conducted by representatives of the University of South Florida; however, it would be inappropriate at this time to comment on their research.

----------------------------------------
NEWS CHANNEL 7 WJHG - FLORIDA PANHANDLE
Posted: Mon 6:09 PM, Oct 15, 2012
Additional Graves Discovered at Dozier

 
 Marianna- About 300-adult men known as the 'White House Boys' say they were tortured while confined at Dozier School of Boys. They claim some students didn't survive the beatings and were buried in unmarked graves in a remote section of the campus.

State officials were aware of 31 graves. But this summer, University of South Florida Anthropologist, Dr. Erin Kimmerle said her team found an additional 18 graves. The find didn't surprise 'White House Boy', Bryant Middleton.

"[Kimmerle's] report will be turned over to the Governor shortly" said Middleton during a phone interview Monday. "It's a very detailed report and I think there's going to be much more to it than what has been in the news."

Local historian, Dale Cox wasn't surprised either. But, he told us, the new graves didn't prove anything.

"These mystery graves really aren't mysterious" said Cox. "Dozier marked them and maintained them, and I can't see why they would purposefully mark and maintain graves for students they had murdered."

Cox says the students buried in those graves died during a fire at the school and from an influenza outbreak.

Though Cox and the Florida Department of Law Enfocements investigative report both acknowledged that the abuse the 'White House Boys' claim could have occurred, Cox said the latest revelations insinuating murder were publicity stunts.

"They initially said that cemetery on the hill that is marked is where those murdered boys were buried and that is not the case. That was proven false. So now we've moved on and we found some more graves and suddenly those are the mystery graves" Cox said.

Middleton said he wanted further investigations."With today's technology and forensics, a body can be exhumed, or found, and can be examined. They can go back and very carefully determine the sex of the child, how the child lived and how they child died."

"Let's dig up the whole campus- let's spend millions" Cox said. "Let's dig it all up, let's get to the bottom of this. And when it's all said and done, if there is no evidence of additional murder victims out there, then I think the University of South Florida owes the people of Jackson County an apology."

Several different state investigations in the last five years have determined there was no evidence of students being murdered at Dozier.

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FROM THE WEBSITE "THE STIR"
 
Mystery of Boys Reform School Deepens With Discovery of More Bodies
Posted by Aunt Becky on October 15, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Imagine that you were a parent of a troubled child in the early 1960's. You sent your child to a reformatory school, believing that this would do the trick -- and make your child an upstanding citizen. I know, it's hard to relate to something like that today, nobody does that anymore. But as parents we can all relate to the fear of never seeing our child again. We push those thoughts away every time one of those horrific child abduction stories pop into our newsfeeds. It's almost impossible to process the concept.

But that's what happened to over fifty sets of parents who had sent their children to Florida Industrial School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. They dropped off their sons only to never see them again.

Now this shocking mystery that has meant lack of closure for so many grieving and confused parents might find a resolution of sorts as a result of a recent gruesome discovery.

Using ground-penetrating radar, a team of anthropologists have determined what they believe to be an additional 18 bodies buried in the woods -- this on top of the 30 unmarked graves that have mysteriously stood behind the school for decades. For most of these children, who's bodies remain unidentified and unclaimed, there's no record of what fate these young boys met.

In 2008, a group of men dubbed "The White House Boys," came forward and claimed that the "White House," a concrete building on the school grounds of Florida Industrial School for Boys, was used for brutal types of punishments, including whippings and beatings. The charges were denied by former administrator of the school, Troy Tidwell.

Florida is selling the land where the school once stood, so the bodies of these unidentified children may forever go unnamed.

This now-defunct school plays the scene of a gruesome set of murders that have been lost through the years. A small cemetary was discovered, a row of white, rusted crosses stand to mark each of the 31 graves of unidentified students. While the former students claim that the cause of death for these students was homicide at the hands of brutal administrators of the Florida Industrial School for Boys, an investigation from the state of Florida determined no evidence of criminal activity was present or connected to the deaths of unnamed students.

Then where did over fifty additional students at the school go? Parents, former schoolmates, and siblings don't have that answer. They have no closure, no certainty of the fate that confronted their loved ones. Because these bodies cannot be idenfiied, they cannot be exhumed and properly buried with their beloved families where they belong.

Investigators are moving quickly on identifying the boys and trying to send them to a proper, dignified burial as the State of Florida has put the land up for sale and could be sold at any time.

We can only hope that these children are idenfied and buried with their families, where they belong, before it's too late.

Everyone deserves to rest with dignity.

Everyone.
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WMBB.COM - ALABAMA PANHANDLE AND GEROGIA

Research Finds More Burials on Dozier Property
Posted: Oct 15, 2012 7:34 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 15, 2012 7:34 PM EDT
By Alyssa Hyman - email 



Click Here to view the video:  http://www.wmbb.com/story/19826920/usf-research-finds-more-bodies-burried-on-dozier-property?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7843696

Thirty-one metal cross stand silent, deep in the woods of the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, but the mystery to who and how many lie below the surface is beginning to unravel.

"There are these markers, and there's a lot of folklore that says 'who's here and this is the location,' but it was never established 'these markers correspond to these graves and these graves belong to ABC," explains Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an anthropologist and assistant professor from the University of South Florida.

Kimmerle, along with a team researchers from USF are working to document the historic Boot Hill Cemetery at the school. Historic records and folklore suggest about 31 bodies are buried there, but through archeological research like ground penetrating radar and trenching, Kimmerle and her team have found 18 more bodies buried on the property.

"The information that's known about [the burials] really came from the FDLE investigation from 2008-2009, where they went through many of the same historical records and put together a report. We've built on that, but we've found more than what's issued in that report," says Kimmerle.

In 2008-2009, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an investigation into abuse allegation but concluded that no crimes were committed in association with the deaths that occurred.

With now an estimate of 49 bodies buried on the property, there are still questions about at least 22 bodies that Kimmerle says have no burial records at all. Questions that former students, known as the White House Boys, have been demanding the answers to for years.

"We were brutalized as young children," says White House Boy Bryant Middleton. "There were many children that were taken to the white house and brutally beaten some of them never returned ."

With science at work, the White House Boys believe the findings validate what they've been saying from the start.

"The lawlessness that went on at that school, the unaccountability of children, the unmerciful acts that were perpetrated against young children is now coming to light. It's surfacing as if the children in the graves were screaming out and are now being heard," says Middleton. 

In relation to the current research the FDLE says: "We are aware of the on-going work that has been conducted by representatives of the University of South Florida. However, it would be inappropriate at this time to comment on their research."

The Department of Juvenile Justice has also confirmed that an injunction to the sale of the property has been granted to allow the researchers to continue their work.

The statement from the DJJ says: "As secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, I am profoundly aware of the historical significance of the North Florida Youth Development Center (NFYDC), formerly the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. One of the decisions I am most proud of is that this administration closed NFYDC in 2011. After careful consideration, we will work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site."
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FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS / DOZIER CEMETARY NEWS FEATURED ON **NATIONWIDE** NPR (NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO and on their website...)
MANY other articles follow, please read on.

Florida's Dozier School For Boys: A True Horror Story
by Greg Allen - NPR
October 15, 2012

LISTEN HERE -
(Click on the Music Note Below.  When the first box appears click "OPEN", then, depending on your Virus Protection and Security Features, You may have to click "Allow")
20121015_atc_14.mp3
3.5 MB

(If you don't have a music player on your computer, then click HERE to go to the NPR website  and click on the speaker to listen.)


Phil Coale, AP
Dick Colon, one of the White House Boys, walks through grave sites near the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. Several men who suffered abuse and severe beatings believe the crosses mark the graves of boys who were killed at the school, victims of punishments that went too far

Over the past decade, hundreds of men have come forward to tell gruesome stories of abuse and terrible beatings they suffered at Florida's Dozier School for Boys, a notorious, state-run institution that closed last year after more than a century.

Known as the "White House Boys," these 300-some men were sent as boys to the reform school in the small panhandle town of Mariana in the 1950s and 1960s. They have joined together over the years to tell their stories of the violence administered in a small building on the school's grounds they knew as the White House.

Some 81 boys are known to have died there, but where their remains are buried is a mystery that researchers are now trying to solve.

"You didn't know when it was coming," says Jerry Cooper, who was sent to the school when he was 16. "These were not spankings. These were beatings, brutal beatings."

Cooper is 67 now. He was sent to what at the time was called the Florida School for Boys in 1961. He'd been running away from home and hitchhiking when he was picked up by an AWOL Marine driving a stolen car.

A county judge charged him with car theft and sent him to the school. Some of the kids like him were charged with crimes. Cooper says others were there for running away from home or because they didn't have families.


Greg Allen/NPR
Jerry Cooper, now 67, was 16 years old in 1961 when he was sent to what at the time was called the Florida School for Boys. He witnessed and received brutal beatings by the administration there.  "We weren't bad kids. We might have needed help in some respect. But that wasn't the place to find it, I'll tell you that right now."   Jerry Cooper

"A lot of orphans were there that did not have places at times and they were sent to Marianna. They weren't there for any crime whatsoever," Cooper says. "But we had many, many boys who was there for smoking in school, that were incorrigible. We weren't bad kids. We might have needed help in some respect. But that wasn't the place to find it, I'll tell you that right now."

A History Of Brutality

The Dozier School for Boys has been known by several names. It opened in 1900 as the Florida State Reform School on 1,400 acres west of Tallahassee. Throughout its history, the school was known for its harsh conditions and brutal treatment. Over the years, a succession of reports and commissions called for reforms, but little changed.

Cooper says he did his best to stay out of trouble, but after several weeks, he learned about the beatings firsthand. School staff got him out of bed at 2 a.m. one day and took him to the White House where he says they threw him on a bed, tied his feet and began beating him with a leather strap.

"The first blow lifted me a foot and a half off that bed," Cooper recalls. "And every time that strap would come down, you could hear the shuffle on the concrete because their shoes would slide. And you could hear the shoosh, shoosh, bam."

Cooper passed out, but a boy in the next room later told him he counted 135 lashes.

As incredible as it may sound, Cooper's story is not uncommon. There are dozens of White House Boys with similar tales of beatings they received at the school in the 1950s and '60s. Several years ago, they began telling their stories in newspaper accounts and TV reports.

Florida's former Gov. Charlie Crist ordered a state investigation into the allegations of abuse, torture and deaths alleged at the school. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviewed the White House Boys and former staff but said it couldn't find enough evidence to support the allegations.

"It all boils down to civil liability," says Roger Kiser, a White House Boy who helped form the group and who has written about his experiences at the school in the late 1950s. "They do not want anybody to be able to have factual evidence that would make them pay for these — what I consider to be crimes."

The state report also found no evidence indicating a staff member was responsible for any student deaths. Kiser doesn't accept the state's conclusion.

"There's just too many stories," Kiser says. "I know of one that I personally saw die in the bathtub that had been beaten half to death. I thought he'd been mauled by the dogs because I thought he had ran. I never did find out the true story on that. There was the boy I saw who was dead who came out of the dryer. They put him in one of those large dryers."

State investigators said that using school records, they were able to identify 31 former students interred in the school cemetery. Records show 50 other boys also died at the school, with no indication of where most are buried.

But in recent months, researchers from the University of South Florida have been spending time on the school grounds, working to answer some of those questions.

SEARCHING FOR UNMARKED GRAVES



Greg Allen/NPR
Using ground penetrating radar, archaeologist Richard Estabrook has identified dozens of previously unknown graves at the school's cemetery.

Like a farmer driving a high-tech plow, archaeologist Richard Estabrook pushes cart-mounted ground penetrating radar equipment over an area near the school's old cemetery. Instead of crops, Estabrook is plowing for data — information that identifies gravesites.

He stops pushing for a moment to show what appears as wavy lines on his equipments' screen — signs he's found another grave.

"This sort of disturbance as it goes down there?" Estabrook says, pointing to the monitor. "That's the classic indication of a grave shaft."

Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle is leading the research at the Dozier school. She's an associate professor at the University of South Florida who became interested in the case after hearing the White House Boys' stories.

At the cemetery — just a clearing in the woods near the school — there are 31 crosses to mark those buried here. But in that section and in surrounding areas, Kimmerle has already identified 49 grave sites. Some, she says, may contain more than one person.

Kimmerle says one question remains hard to answer: Why are there no records of where any of the boys who died at the school are buried?

"When you look at the state hospital, the state prisons, the other state institutions at the time, there are very meticulous plat maps you can reference," Kimmerle says. "Or if you are a family member today, you can say, 'Where is my great-aunt buried?' and they can show you exactly where. So, why that didn't happen here, I don't know. But that does stand out."

Kimmerle says identifying who's buried in the graves would require exhuming the bodies — something that can be done only if a family member of one of the deceased requests it.

That's where Glen Varnadoe comes into the story.

Laying An Uncle To Rest, A Century Later


Greg Allen/NPR
In their search for graves, Estabrook and forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle lay out a grid at the school cemetery.

Varnadoe is a businessman from Central Florida whose uncle, Thomas, was sent to the school in the 1930s, when he was 13 years old. A month later, he was dead.

Varnadoe wants to exhume his uncle's remains and bring them back for burial in his family's graveyard. He's hoping Kimmerle's research will make that possible. But he believes the cemetery where she's been working isn't the only one on the school grounds.

In the 1990s, Varnadoe visited the school — at that time still open — and asked to see his uncle's grave. He says a school staffer directed him, not to the cemetery where Kimmerle is working, but to another location.

"He took me to a second place and said, "Here's where we think the five kids that died in the fire in 1914 are buried ... your uncle could be buried here."

Varnadoe isn't sure where that second cemetery is located. Kimmerle and many of the White House Boys believe it's on a section of school grounds that's up for sale.

That sale, though, is now on hold. Last week, Varnadoe went to court and secured a temporary injunction that halts the sale until his uncle's remains are found.

"There is absolutely no question and no doubt that people that worked at that facility during the late '80s and early '90s knew then and know now that there are other places on the grounds of that school where children are buried."

After blocking them for months, the state now has agreed to allow Kimmerle and her team access to the rest of the school grounds.

The White House Boys believe Kimmerle's work will help uncover the truth about what happened at the school. Eventually, they hope to receive an apology and compensation from the state of Florida for the abuse they suffered there.
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FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS' CEMETARY MAKES NATIONAL NEWS! #1 STORY IN USA (Oct 13th) ON CNN - AND COVERED BY OTHER TV AND NEWSPAPERS ON OCTOBER 13TH, 2012 -
SEE IT ALL HERE!

FOX NEWS 13 TAMPABAY
At infamous boys' school, searching for a secret cemetery
Posted: Oct 12, 2012 9:31 PM EDT
By: Doug Smith, FOX 13 Investigative Reporter - bio
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's now a race against time to find more bodies buried decades ago at a reform school in the Florida panhandle. An emergency court order just issued has brought the case back to life.

A research team from the University of South Florida headed up by Erin Kimmerle, associate professor of anthropology, now has 120 days to examine what is believed to be a second secret cemetery at The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

The reform school has a history of abuse.


"It's never been really known or documented how many people are buried there, so in the 90s, a group set up a number of crosses to mark the area," says Christian Wells, who is an associate professor of anthropology at USF.

Researchers found 31 crosses, but that was never the right number.

Stories of torture leaked out from boys, who are now old men. They claim to have been beaten and abused.

"I think they are going to find a lot of bodies. They don't know how many boys are really there," says Robert Straley, who lived at the school as a boy.

The story has received national attention and some survivors have dubbed themselves the "White House Boys," because they say a small white building is where the abuse took place.

Over the summer, USF researchers, using ground-penetrating radar, found more bodies.

"We've determined that there are at least 49 burials in that particular area, but the documentation they found suggests double that number died. Where are the other 50 bodies?" asks Wells.

And that's the mystery right now, where are the other bodies? The team of researchers came across information indicating a second, unmarked cemetery at the school, but the state planned to sell the property and they were denied access until the court issued the emergency injunction.

They hope to get to work soon, but the fall semester will make scheduling the work a challenge. And what do they expect to find?

"We anticipating finding between -- and this is an estimate -- 20 to 30 unmarked graves," Wells said.

FOX 13 contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which says the agency is aware of the new plan to look for a second cemetery and more bodies, but would not comment on the new development.

 

CNN U.S.

Mystery surrounds graves at boys' reform schoolBy Rich Phillips, CNN
updated 12:47 PM EDT, Sun October 14, 2012
School graves could hide 'evil' past
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
In 2009, Florida determined that 31 boys buried at a reform school were fire, flu victims
Today, investigators have found 18 more graves at the same site
The team believes there's another grave where black students may have been buried
The state has remained mum on the new findings
Marianna, Florida (CNN) -- This Florida panhandle town is the home of a mystery that has been lost to time.

A small cemetery buried deep into the grounds of a now-defunct boys reform school dates back to the early 1900s. Rusting white steel crosses mark the graves of 31 unidentified former students.

Former students said the deaths were at the hands of abusive administrators, but a 2009 state investigation determined there was no evidence of criminal activity connected with any of the deaths or of abusive treatment.

But the investigation did not clear up the mystery over the fate of 50 other students who died at the school and whose bodies have not been accounted for.

 Scientists are sifting through 100-year-old paperwork to determine who is buried in this makeshift cemetery on the grounds of a former Florida reform school for boys.  Dr. Erin Kimmerle is part of the scientific investigation team looking into who is buried at the grave site. She says it is a humanitarian effort to identify and remember those who died.  Robert Straley says he endured 10 months of abuse at the reform school. A recent state investigation into similar allegations found no wrongdoing.  Ovell Smith Krell says her brother Owen died in 1940 under mysterious circumstances at the reform school. When she and her family went to find out what happened, the school said he was already buried. If he is buried at the school, Krell said she would like to claim his body and bring him home to her family's burial plot.  Forensic anthropologists who once worked for the U.N. in Yugoslavia searching for mass graves are now using ground penetrating radar in a humanitarian effort to find out who is buried in a small makeshift cemetery built on the grounds of the former reform school for boys near Tallahassee, Florida.   In the wake of that investigation, more former students -- who are now senior citizens -- have come forward with stories of abuse at the school, including alleged beatings, killings and the disappearance of students, during the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

"These are children who came here and died, for one reason or another, and have just been lost in the woods," said Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an anthropologist from the University of South Florida who is leading a scientific search on the grounds of what used to be the Florida Industrial School for Boys.

 Dr. Erin Kimmerle calls the investigation a humanitarian effort to identify and remember those who died.Using ground-penetrating radar, Kimmerle's team has located what she says appear to be 18 more remains than previously thought to have been buried there. After clearing the area, her team has determined that a total of 49 graves exist. All are unidentified.

"We found burials within the current marked cemetery, and then we found burials that extend beyond that," Kimmerle said.

Regarding the missing boys, "for the majority, there's no record of what happened to them. So, they may be buried here, they may have been shipped to their families. But we don't know," she said.

State and school records show that out of nearly 100 children who died while at the school, there are no burial records for 22 of them, according to Kimmerle.

"When there's no knowledge and no information, then people will speculate and rumors will persist or questions remain," she said.

Kimmerle, who worked on an international forensics team that amassed evidence used in war crimes trials from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, called the Florida project a humanitarian effort for the families of the former students and for the community.

"It's about restoring dignity," she said.

The team laid a grid using ground-penetrating radar to create a three-dimensional digital image of the area. They had to clear underbrush and trees when it became apparent the cemetery extended well beyond the small fenced area.

"We found numerous anomalies throughout," said Rich Estabrook, a public archaeologist working on the team. "Many of them tend to be in rows, and somewhat symmetrical."

The team believes these so-called "anomalies" are graves because they are lined up in east-west configurations, the traditional way Christians are buried. Exhumations will have to be requested by family members.

Adding to the mystery, Kimmerle's team has determined, based on reports from former workers and students, that another cemetery exists on the 1,400-acre property. Those graves could contain the bodies of black students, buried in a different area because of segregation.

The team has petitioned to search the area, and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has agreed to work with the researchers "on how best to provide them access to the site."

But they'll have to move quickly because the state is in the process of selling the entire property.

The mystery surrounding the graves first made headlines in 2008 when Florida's then-governor Charlie Crist ordered an investigation after a group of men, known as "the White House Boys," came forward with stories of how they were beaten with leather straps by school administrators inside a small, white building on school property.

Robert Straley, who spent about 10 months at the school in the 1960s for allegedly stealing a car, said he was taken to the "white house" on his very first day.

 Robert Straley says he endured 10 months of abuse at the reform school. "I came out of there in shock, and when they hit you, you went down a foot into the bed, and so hard, I couldn't believe. I didn't know what they were hitting you with," said Straley.

Former school administrator Troy Tidwell, a one-armed man who some former students accused of beating them, has said that "spankings" took place at the school but denied anyone was ever beaten or killed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's report, issued in 2009, accounted for the 31 boys buried in the cemetery. Although each individual plot cannot be identified, the report said many were killed in a 1914 fire at the facility, while others died in a 1918 flu outbreak. Two dogs and a peacock also are buried there.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement report said poorly kept school records prevented officials from determining what became of the other 50 students: whether they were buried on the grounds or sent home to their families. It said most died as a result of accidents or illness, though two were killed by other students and one was shot by a deputy sheriff trying to run away.

One of those "White House boys" called the department's report a "whitewash."

"All they did was try to do their best to discredit us," Straley said. "They focused on that instead of focusing on an investigation."

The department has said it stands by the integrity of its report.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman said officials could not comment on the research team's findings until they have had time to review the report.

Owen Smith was among the 31 students identified as having been buried in the cemetery.

"He had no ambition to do anything but play music," said his sister, Ovell Smith Krell, who was 12 when her brother ran away from home in 1940. She said he was headed for Nashville to become a musician, but never made it. He was arrested in a stolen car, and sent to the reform school.

He ran away from the school, but got caught, he told his sister in a letter a short time afterward.

A few months later, his family got a letter from the school, notifying them that Owen had run away for a second time.

"So far, we have been unable to get any information concerning his whereabouts," wrote Millard Davidson, the school's superintendent at the time.

"We will appreciate your notifying us immediately if you receive any word from or concerning him," Davidson wrote.

Owen's family decided to travel to Marianna, Florida, to find out what was going on, but just before leaving, there was a call from the school with word that Owen had been found dead.

I would take him and put him down with my mom and dad in their cemetery. I hope I get that chance.

Ovell Smith Krell, 83"They think he crawled under a house to try and get warm and that he got pneumonia and died," said Krell, now 83.

She said her mother asked that Owen's body be taken to a funeral home. The family had to borrow a car for the trip and when they arrived in Marianna two days later, school officials allegedly told them that their son was already buried.

"They said that the body was so decomposed, you wouldn't be able to identify him ... they took him straight out to the school and buried him," she said.

Owen's classmate told the family a different story.

According to his sister, the boy said as he and Owen tried to escape, "my brother was running out across a field, an open field, and there was three men shooting at him, with rifles."

"I believe to this day that they shot my brother that night, and I think they probably killed him and brought him back to the school and buried him," she said.

With the completion of the anthropological search, it will be up to the families of the missing students to go to a state court to ask a judge to order exhumations. One family has already filed suit for the return of a relative's remains.

Krell said she only hopes to give her brother a proper burial.

"I would take him and put him down with my mom and dad in their cemetery," she said. "I hope I get that chance."

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: 
http://cnn.com/video/#/video/topvideos/2012/10/12/pkg-lavendera-marianna-boys-reform-school-graves.cnn


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THE INDEPENDENT SENTINEL - LONG ISLAND, NY

The White House Boys: A Horrific Mystery at a Florida Reform School More Than a Half Century Ago
October 13, 2012
By Sara Noble

Mystery surrounding the cemetery for a boys reformatory in Marianna, Florida, decades later.

The following is a horrific story of the possible abuse and murder of boys as young as eight who were housed in a boys reformatory in Marianna, Florida.

Mystery burials have been uncovered at the reformatory and it is believed there are more bodies in a second cemetery. A research team from the University of South Florida headed up by Erin Kimmerle, associate professor of anthropology, now has 120 days to examine what is believed to be a second secret cemetery at The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

The dead youths, according to school records, died from a fire, the flu and unnamed causes. One boy was murdered by four others whom he overheard planning an escape. However, only 31 burials are recorded and that was never the right number. An examination of school records by the anthropologists uncovered 81 burials at the school. 

It is only recently that former students, now elderly men, are coming forward with stories of physical beatings, sexual abuse and murder. More than 325 victims have come forward. They have dubbed themselves, The White House Boys, because of the small white building they were taken to for beatings.
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Appalling Abuses at 'Dozier Reform School' in Marianna, Florida Exposed to Public!
 
(As it appeared on the website The Student Operated Press - www.thesop.org)
Published:October 15th, 2012 07:01 EST  
By John G. Kays   

Robert Straley, one of the few survivors of a group known as the `White House Boys,` has deemed the appalling atrocities of Dozier Reform School (really, Dozier Youth Prison)  `the worst case of child abuse in American City!` Those of us who are just getting wind of this harrowing horror story are beg"inning to fathom the authenticity of what Robert Straley is testament to, although another side of us utters in our ear: Is this John Carpenter`s newest horror flick?"
 
No it isn`t, this is historical; this is a weathered slice of journalism that slowly emerges from a grave of hush-up and oppression, a throw-back to the Old South, when blacks and whites were separated, and more importantly, when good and bad kids were completely segregated from one another. I`m thinking, in the minds of these demented Youth Prison Administrators (and their underling henchman guards), this unspoken social demarcation line (between good kids and bad kids) gave them open license to commit these abuses.
 
The White House is where these leather strap beatings took place; some boys never returned to their dormitory, while others survived and are finally speaking out about the Hell House, known as Dozier Reform School, whose abandoned shell of ruins and makeshift grave markers is located in Marianna (northern-most, central Florida). This reform school, created exclusively to separate the perceived `rotten apples of society` has a history going back all the way to 1900. That`s 112 years, has this insanity, this socially sanctioned criminal behavior, been going on ever since then?
 
As shocking as it appears, I believe it is true!  Naturally, Dozier didn`t keep very good records, or the records they did keep must have been falsified, in order to cover up what they were really all about, which is starting to resemble more a Nazi Concentration Camp, where they could freely torture boys who had been condemned by the  `powers that be;` a small group of authoritative individuals which local historical documents can probably identify.

I assume, the trouble of what transpired at this haunted reform school, for more than a hundred years, will see the light of day, now that so many educated people are getting involved, such as the USF anthropology professor, Erin Kimmerle, who has discovered verifiable evidence of a second, hidden cemetery on the south side of the campus (where the white kids were buried, which is in keeping with the segregated traditions in place after The Civil War, actually). Hopefully, more historians, journalists, and private investigators will begin probes that will uncover these ills, which we would prefer to forget forever.

Yet we can`t do that, it would be irresponsible of us! And yet, I have to ask, how could these reform school administrators have gotten away with this travesty for so many years? 112 years is a long time to commit publicly sanctioned  `social crimes` (well, here`s the oxymoron right here!) and get away with it, scott free!  And another question that comes to mind, is why didn`t the families request that the remains of their beloved children be returned to them, after they learned of their untimely demise? I suspect, it was out of fear of this institution, since it was the State of Florida!

It`s good that at least the facts of one case has been exposed to clear air . This is the shocker of Owen Smith, who was shot to death at Dozier by guards (in 1940), perhaps as he attempted to flee from these possessed henchmen, who he probably suspected were dead set on killing him anyhow. Witnesses saw the shooting, so we know it`s real, Owen Smith (who aspired to be a musician) was murdered by this demented institution. But how many other kids were killed by these twisted people, who worked for this `reform school?` More investigative research must proceed immediately!

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/11/v-print/3045869/unmarked-graves-of-notorious-youth.html

ABOUT THE AUTHOR John is 1976 graduate of The University of Texas, with a BA in History. He also has a Teacher`s Certificate in History and English. John has been a writer of songs, a competent rhythm guitar player, and a warbly-golden-throated singer, but has subsequently retired to merely writing about angles of `The History of Rock & Roll.` Also, he spills some ink on film, does a few book reviews, and investigates historical topics with Sherlock tenacity. Pop culture always fascinates him, especially the question: how can we identify remnants from our past that are timeless, and will endure, or be admired by future generations? `A BLAST FROM THE PAST`, or otherwise a wilting lily, is an apropos power-adage to describe the dynamics of John`s writing and world perspective.

About theSOP For over 6 years, theSOP has been a cutting edge news organization with the goal to provide novice writers, student journalists, amateur broadcasters and unpublished authors the opportunity to showcase their talents while practicing ethical journalism and broadcasting in a professional environment that mirrors all major media outlets.

theSOP.org not only helps students become better writers, it also helps to build the leaders of our future. The SOP was one of the first sites to publish and produce online radio content under the same guidelines as traditional media outlets. Tommy Lasorda and Marques Toliver on The American Perspective, WTTB News Talk.

 Thesop.org provides a platform in which students are able to create a story, have it edited by their colleagues as well as proven media professionals to be published in the real world. One of the SOP's leading experts, Djelloul Marbrook, seasoned journalist, author and winner of the 2007 Stan and Wick Poetry Prize presented by Kent State University is always available to mentor and offer his expert opinion. In addition our organization offers multiple online writing, broadcasting, and publishing opportunities and scholarships.
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Researchers find more graves at Dozier than state said existed
By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writers
Tampa Bay Times Posted: Oct 11, 2012 06:51 PM   

For years, Richard Varnadoe has longed to know where the state buried his brother, Thomas, who died at 13, as a ward of Florida's oldest reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

"I feel an obligation that the truth has to come out, what happened to him," said Varnadoe, 83. "I am the last hope . . . I'm the last sibling."

New evidence unearthed by researchers at the University of South Florida may shed light on where Thomas and dozens of other boys who died in state custody are buried. The team has identified at least 49 graves in and near the notorious school's known cemetery, north of the campus. That's 18 more than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a 2009 investigation.

Researchers have also found "sufficient evidence" to conclude there's likely another clandestine cemetery on school property, in a patch of woods on the south side of campus, which had been reserved for white students during segregation.

Led by Erin Kimmerle, associate professor of anthropology at USF, the researchers petitioned the state to use ground penetrating radar to try to find the second cemetery and determine how many graves it contained. But the state denied the petition in August because it intended to sell 220 acres of the land at public auction. The school closed in 2011, after 111 years of operation.

The Department of Juvenile Justice reversed its ruling Thursday afternoon, a day after Thomas Varnadoe's nephew, Glen Varnadoe, filed a lawsuit to put a stop to the sale.

"After careful consideration, we will work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site," said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters.

"It sounds very encouraging," said Glen Varnadoe. "I think if they let Dr. Kimmerle and her staff do the research on the ground, they will find what we're looking for."

Kimmerle suspected there was a second cemetery on the property when her team discovered no segregation between graves at the known cemetery, called Boot Hill. Until 1968, it was customary for cemeteries to have defined separate areas for the remains of whites and blacks.

Former wards of the state, and family members of those who died in custody, also told researchers they had seen a cemetery on the south side of campus. Among them was Ovell Krell, a former Lakeland police officer, who suspects her brother was killed by guards in 1940.

Krell said her family drove to Marianna to investigate her brother's reported disappearance from the school. By the time they arrived, they were shown a pile of dirt in a cemetery south of campus, which the superintendent identified as her brother's grave.

Researchers John Powell and Richard Weltz also matched an aerial photograph of a cemetery from a Jackson County historian to a spot on the south campus.

"It's too much evidence from too many sources to say it's nothing," Kimmerle said.

Since 2008, former wards, mostly from the 1950s and '60s, have spoken publicly about being abused at the school. Hundreds told of being hit with a leather strap until they bled in a small building called the White House. Some have reported that bunk-mates were taken to the White House for punishment and never returned.

Former Gov. Charlie Christ ordered an investigation in 2009 after news spread of a cemetery in a small clearing in the woods dotted by 31 white metal crosses. Relying heavily on the school's own records, FDLE determined that at least 81 boys died in custody, and that 29 boys and two men were buried at the cemetery.

USF's Kimmerle, along with archaeologist Richard Estabrook and a team of students, used ground-penetrating radar and other "ground truthing" techniques and determined that the actual cemetery extended 20 meters north of the marked site, into a heavily wooded area. And they found a minimum of 49 graves, which Kimmerle called a "conservative estimate."

"That's a minimum number," she said. "These are the ones that we are confident saying these are grave shafts."

Kimmerle said it's also possible that some graves may contain more than one child.

"This is the worst case of child abuse in American history," said Robert Straley, of Clearwater, who was abused at the school when he was 13. "They have an obligation to make that into a real cemetery, where the relatives of boys would be allowed to go in there and pay their respect and they should build a monument to all the boys who died and were never identified."

The Varnadoes hope someday to identify Thomas' remains, and to have them disinterred and reburied at the family's plot in Brooksville, beside his mother.

"Our interest in this is a 13-year-old child that never got to come home to his mother," Glen Varnadoe said. "Our interest is in bringing this child home so he can spend the rest of eternity with his family."

Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at
wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.
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Posted on Thu, Oct. 11, 2012
MI
AMI HERALD

Unmarked graves of notorious youth prison snag sale by Florida DJJ
By Carol Marbin Miller
cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com
 
The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna had a history rife with abuse. As recently as 2004, a boy had his head smashed on concrete by a guard. For decades in the middle of the 20th century, boys were beaten by guards with a heavy leather paddle. Former Dozier School for Boys (then called Florida School for Boys) inmate Dick Colon is shown holding a replica of the leather paddle. In 1983, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit claiming kids were hogtied and left in isolation for extended periods. Four years later plans were announced to overhaul the juvenile justice system, but those at Dozier at that time say those reforms never happened. The grounds of Florida’s most notorious youth prison, a century-old Panhandle reform school, are now a 220-acre money pit that costs more to maintain than the property may be worth. Youth corrections administrators had circled Oct. 15 as the date they could finally unload the place, and its many ghosts.

But the sale of the controversial Dozier School for Boys hit an unexpected snag Thursday as the brother and nephew of a 13-year-old boy who died there in 1934 filed suit in Tallahassee, asking a judge to stop the sale so that family members can find the child’s now-hidden grave.

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a decades-long saga involving scores of now-grown men from throughout the state who say they were raped or mercilessly beaten or both at the Marianna campus. The “White House Boys” — as some of the men have dubbed themselves after the squat white-washed cottage where they were whipped sometimes 100 times or more — have spawned at least two books and a movement to extract some type of compensation from the Florida Legislature.

Glen Varnadoe is not one of the White House Boys. He says he is a 63-year-old man who just wants to return his uncle’s remains to a family graveyard in Marion County, where they belong.
“He was a 13-year-old kid, and he deserves, at some point, to be brought back home to his mother,” said Varnadoe, who lives in Lakeland. “All this case is about is bringing a 13-year-old home and burying him with the rest of the family.”

Varnadoe and his uncle, Joseph R. Varnadoe, will appear before a Leon Circuit Court judge at 3 p.m. Friday in an effort to stop the sale of the Dozier property.
Late Thursday, the Department of Juvenile Justice’s chief, Wansley Walters, said her agency will reconsider the state’s decision to close off the campus from researchers and family members seeking to locate the graves of children who died there.

“As secretary of the [DJJ], I am profoundly aware of the historical significance of the North Florida Youth Development Center [NFYDC], formerly the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys,” Walters said. “One of the decisions I am most proud of is that this administration closed NFYDC in 2011. After careful consideration, we will work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site.”

For several months, a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida has been scouring the boys’ school campus in search of what they believe to be the unmarked graves of an unknown number of children who died during Dozier’s more than 100 years of operation. In July, Erin Kimmerle, an anthropology professor, asked state land managers for permission to study a portion of the school, known as the South Campus, where state juvenile justice administrators operated a corrections center until last year. The South Campus originally contained cottages, schools and other facilities used exclusively by white children; African-American youth had been housed in a separate campus nearby.
The North Campus, where black children were housed, now contains several ramshackle cottages that — though largely falling apart — were frozen in time decades ago, with furniture, books and Bibles scattered as they were the day the campus was closed. It also holds a cemetery — called Boot Hill — with about 30 graves in neat rows loosely marked by spare crosses of white-washed PVC pipe.

Researchers and others believe white children who died at Dozier were buried somewhere on the South Campus, and they cite the conventions of the South in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s as support for their beliefs. If the children were housed in different dormitories, ate in separate mess halls, played on segregated sports teams and studied in classrooms far apart — why would they have been buried together?

“It was the law of the land that there be separate facilities, and also the custom of the South that whites and blacks be buried separately,” said Robert S. Bolt, a Tampa lawyer who is representing the Varnadoes.
And court pleadings filed Thursday say researchers have interviewed townspeople, former inmates of the youth camp and relatives who say they either saw burial sites on the South Campus or were told about them by people who had.
Said Bolt: “There is plenty of good evidence that that’s where the white cemetery is.”

But in a letter last August, a head of the state Bureau of Public Land Administration, Victoria F. Thompson, denied Kimmerle’s request, “due to the upcoming surplus sale of this property and liability concerns.”

DJJ is spending $357,521 yearly to maintain the property, which is not expected to fetch more than that at sale.
Bids for the Dozier property, — described as “gently rolling, improved and wooded,” in a sale announcement — were to be opened next Monday. In their complaint, the Varnadoes say going forward with the sale will forever prevent them from retrieving the remains of Thomas Varnadoe, whose death certificate says he died on or about Oct. 26, 1934 of pneumonia.

Glen Varnadoe’s father, who died in 1973, was sent to Dozier, along with Thomas, when the two brothers were arrested in Hernando County on malicious trespassing charges, Glen Varnadoe said. A Dozier student newspaper reported that Thomas had been in poor health when he entered the youth prison, but family members long have disputed that claim. The “Yellow Jacket” newspaper also reported that Thomas was carried to his grave by fellow inmates who acted as pallbearers while a large contingent of staff members looked on solemnly.
Varnadoe said his father never discussed Thomas’ death, though he did insist that only he and a grave-digger attended the funeral. “At Thomas’ funeral, they dug a hole and they put him in,” he said.

If researchers can identify Thomas’ remains, Varnadoe said, he would like to place them “right beside the headstone of his mother.”
Varnadoe says he suspects some of the newer buildings on the South Campus likely were erected atop the bones of children who were unceremoniously deposited under the ground, as he says Thomas was. And he fears the boys, like his uncle Thomas, will remain there forever if DJJ is allowed to sell the site before the graves are located and preserved.

“To think he will spend an eternity buried under a parking lot somewhere is just a travesty,” Varnadoe said.

© 2012 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miamiherald.com

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/11/v-print/3045869/unmarked-graves-of-notorious-youth.html#storylink=cpy

-------------------------------------------------------------- 

USF Researchers Dig for Answers at the Dozier School for Boys
By Mark Schreiner
Posted 7-6-12


During its 111 years in operation, at least 80 young men died at the Dozier School for Boys in the Panhandle city of Marianna. Some died in fires, some from health problems, and some from violence.

Last year, citing budget cuts, the state closed the reform school.

However, decades of allegations of torture and abuse mar the school's legacy--as does the fact that some of the boys who died there found their final resting place in the unmarked graves of the campus’ Boot Hill Cemetery.

“Today there are 31 metal crosses in rows to commemorate the 31 boys that are believed to be buried there," USF forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle tells USF News. "But what’s sort of unknown is whether those crosses really correspond to actual graves.”

Kimmerle, who's been in the news recently for her investigation into a 1971 Tarpon Springs cold case, is now trying to uncover the secrets of Boot Hill.

“I think that the fact that there have been family members who’ve come forward and been very public about what happened to their brothers, their uncles, and the fact that they’re seeking information and really asking for repatriation, their voice should be heard.”

So a team of USF archaeologists, historians, biologists and anthropologists went to work. They first looked into the history of the site, going through historical photographs, maps, and soil profiles. They also speak to people who were there at the time of the burials and go through similar statements from people who are now dead.

"That gives us sort of a formula to make certain expectations,” Kimmerle says.

Once at the cemetery, the team broke the area down with a grid, and then went to work with  ground penetrating radar (GPR).

Richard Estabrook, the regional director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, described how the device, which resembles a lawn tiller with a small monitor on top, works.

“It basically sends a radar pulse into the ground and gives us a picture or at least an impression of what’s below the surface," said Estabrook, a faculty member in the USF Department of Archaeology. "It can be anything from the roots from these trees to graves to pieces of metal to pieces of concrete.”

Estabrook says this technology doesn’t just save time and money—it also saves history.

“Archaeology is destruction. No matter how well excavated a site is, no matter how meticulous you are taking notes, no matter how many artifacts you collect, no matter how many things you do, you destroy the site in the process. The GPR and remote sensing allows us to work on sites, tease some data from those sites, but still preserve them for future generations and future researchers.”

Once the GPR spots anomalies, Kimmerle’s graduate students perform “ground-truthing”: digging trenches to look for more clues.


“So the intention is to not disturb the actual burial itself," Kimmerle said, "but to look at the layers of soil above the grave and use that to indicate where the ground has been disturbed and where it’s natural.”

The team has returned to USF to analyze the data and begin putting together a more detailed plot map. And while they can’t go back and perform excavations of the graves without permission from the boys’ family members, at least figuring out the location and number of graves might put them on the right path.

“There are questions that the public and families have and hopefully this will answer some of those questions,” Kimmerle said.
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 USF team looks for lost graves at closed Dozier School for Boys
By Ben Montgomery,

Times Staff Writer
Tampa Bay Times In Print: Sunday, May 20, 2012


Grad student Jamie Gluvna, 25, looks shocked Wednesday? as she enters a dilapidated former dormitory at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Gluvna is part of a team from the University of South Florida that is trying to solve a mystery at the now-closed reform school.  

MARIANNA
The fates that befell boys across a century at the state's oldest reform school, here on the outskirts of town, are hard to imagine. They came here to be reformed and some never left. • Eight burned to death in 1914, locked inside a tinderbox dormitory. More than 20 died from influenza and pneumonia. One boy was murdered by his peers while locked inside a 7- by 10-foot building for days. Another died, according to school records, during a tonsillectomy. Records suggest at least 81 boys met their deaths in state custody in the 111 years the school was open.   TO CONTINUE READING, CLICK HERE

USF NEWS - LOST IN THE WOODS
By Katy Hennig May 22, 2012
USF News - University of South Florida

(press center arrow to begin the video)



VIDEO - USF researchers are searching grounds at an old state reform school for boys to identify the location and number of graves on the property.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A SLIDE SHOW OF PHOTOS
 
MARIANNA, Fla. (May 22, 2012) – University of South Florida researchers are plotting grounds around a former boys reform school in an effort to identify the number and locations of graves in and around a cemetery that potentially dates back to the early 1900s.
Led by forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor in USF’s Department of Anthropology, the team has spent several days at the site off Interstate 10 in Florida’s Panhandle mapping the area with ground penetrating radar and digging trenches to analyze soil displacements.
    The former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys contains a cemetery with 31 metal crosses, but school records show 84 boys died at the institution between 1911 and 1973.
The USF team has identified a number of anomalies indicating potential grave sites in wooded areas outside the marked cemetery.Kimmerle was granted permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to access the land, and received a permit for archaeological research to locate and document graves associated with the Boot Hill Cemetery from the state Division of Historical Resources.
    The multi-disciplinary effort involves USF’s departments of Anthropology, Biology, the Forensic Anthropology Laboratory and USF Libraries Special Collections. In addition to locating graves, the group is attempting to document the history of the cemetery. Work began in January.
    USF faculty joining Kimmerle in the project are Richard Estabrook, anthropology; Antoinette Jackson, cultural heritage; Christian Wells, anthropology; and Gordon Fox, biology. USF students involved in the project include Ashley Humphries, Melissa Pope, Meredith Tise, John Powell, Brad Lanning, Richard Weltz, Liotta Noche-Dowdy and Jamie Gluvna.
Katy Hennig can be reached at 813-974-6993. 
Renewed interest in Dozier School investigation
nbc-2 -wbbh
Posted: Jun 01, 2012 5:51 PM EDT

MARIANNA -
Described as Hell on Earth, right here in Florida.

NBC2 first told you about the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida in fall 2011.

The school is closed, but the Department of Justice released a report confirming years of brutal abuse inside; something a group called The White House Boys have been claiming for decades.

Now, there's a renewed push to investigate the area. Anthropologists from the University of South Florida are plotting a patch of land known as a mass grave for boys who didn't survive their time at the school.

A small, non-descript building known as the White House sits on the campus of the Dozier School for Boys. That's where a teenage Jerry Cooper, who now lives in Cape Coral, thought he would be killed.

"There's no way in that many years that every child who went into that building survived. There's just no way. It's impossible," Cooper recalls.

Cooper and a group known as The White House Boys fought to have their stories of abuse heard for decades, saying the beatings were so bad inside the school some didn't make it out alive.

"We know what went on there, but the general public doesn't know yet," Cooper said.

Now, a group of anthropologists from the University of South Florida is working to map out the school's on-site cemetery, trying to determine just how many graves there are. School records show at least 84 people died there between 1911 and 1974, but there are only 31 known graves.

"What's going to happen if it's 12 bodies, not 31? Or 60 bodies, and not 31? What happens then?" Cooper questions.

Cooper hopes the work is a step toward justice after a lifetime of pain caused at the school.

"Absolutely. I just don't think the findings are going to be what the FDLE has stated. I really don't. And then what happens from there? There's a reason for this dig. I know there is and I just have a feeling it's not going to come out good for a lot of people," Cooper said.

 

 First Coast News - ABC Channel 25 (Good Morning Jacksonville)
 USF searches for unmarked graves at Dozier School for Boys
Submitted by Ken Amaro, Community Reporter
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012, 7:26pm

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- Roger Kiser, a Brunswick, Ga. resident, describes himself as a survivor of the Dozier School for Boys. "It has taken me 19 years to get anybody to believe the conditions there," he said. 
    Kiser was in the reform school in 1959, 1960 and 1961 and described the conditions as horrific. "We saw many boys brought out of the white house, we know were dead, black and white, hauled out by wheelbarrow," said Kiser, "so we know there is bodies scattered all over the facility." 
    Kiser wrote the book the 'White House Boys - An American Tragedy' to reveal his experience. "If you stepped off the sidewalk, you got beat, if you ate too much you got beat, if you smiled you got beat, if you smiled too much you got beat.
     It was total terror," he said. A terror he tried to recreate in a film. "People will not believe it when you say this was a concentration camp, they absolutely do not believe you," said Kiser. 
    Robert Straley, another survivor, said, "We were flogged with leather whips." 
    The Marianna facility was closed in 2008, but when Kiser and Straley learned that a University of South Florida team is attempting to document the history of the cemetery, they became excited. So far, the team has discovered what they believe to be 31 unmarked graves in a heavily wooded area. "It is going to find out these stories are true, there's broken bones, bodies that have been shot," said Kiser. 
    Kiser said the justice department confirmed abuse at the state-run juvenile facility. He hopes the next step brings justice. "The next chapter is getting justice for the boys who were killed, justice for the men who survived it because it was horrible," said Kiser, "and an apology from the State of Florida." 
    USF's Katy Henning said the team will take the data collected by the ground-penetrating radar and scan into a software to identify what is in the unmarked graves; it will not identify who is in the graves. Hennig says that requires a court order. 
    The USF team will complete its investigation this summer and issue a report to the Department of Environmental Protection; DEP gave them permission to research the cemetery.

Click the arrow at bottom left to PLAY

ABC NEWS CHANNEL 3 - WEAR - * PENSACOLA * MOBILE *  FT WALTON BEACH *
Dozier School, Families Get New Details

Click the following link for the Video of Interview with Bryant Middleton -  http://www.weartv.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wear_vid_22595.shtml

Note: If the link will not click, then please copy the above into the address bar on your browser)

Families of boys who died at the troubled Dozier school may be receiving answers of where their loved ones are buried. Records indicate 81 boys died while in state custody, 8 burned to death in 1914, 20 died from influenza and pneumonia.   But it was the White House boys who grabbed national attention when they said they were viciously beaten in a building called the "White House".   
   
A team from the University of South Florida says they've discovered more remains. Boot Hill, the school's cemetery lay neglected for years and burial records were incomplete. Thirty one plain white crosses mark some of the graves. The state closed the campus last June after operating for 111 years.
   
Anthropologists, biologists, and archaeologists from the University of South Florida are preserving records and trying to identify remains.   
They're using ground penetrating radar to locate the graves. "They began moving a little bit north and a little bit west and once they began moving the more unmarked graves mass graves they uncovered."
   
Bryant Middleton was one of the White House boys who say they were locked up and beaten with leather straps in a building known as the "White House."   Middleton lives in Fort Walton Beach but has been in close contact with the USF team.
  
He believes they will find more than 100 boys buried in mass graves. "They at this point in time have not even found the outer boundaries of the grave site area and they just keep uncovering more every day."    He hopes this discovery will eventually lead to justice. In 2010, a two year investigation found 500 men who said they had been abused at the school.   But prosecutors said inconclusive evidence and the statute of limitations prevented any criminal prosecution.
   
Middleton hopes the discovery of the bodies will provide the evidence they need to take action. "I don't think that anyone now can lie or deny, cover up, or whitewash this. This is so apparent that it's true."   But he says the discoveries will mean more to the families who never knew the truth. "It's one of the best opportunity for parents, and siblings, and aunts and uncles to now find their children to have them identified take them home and give them a proper burial."Dozier schools family gets new details

JACKSONVILLE.COM
June 6, 2012

White House Boys: Keeping faith
This newspaper and several others in Florida have documented the allegations of abuse suffered by residents of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

State records, according to the Tampa Bay Times, indicate at least 81 boys died there in the 111 years the school operated. Some died by fire, some by illness, one from murder.

But where are they buried? That the burial site could never be confirmed is one indication that many of the deaths arose from a general lack of concern.

There was an area called Boot Hill that was thought to be a cemetery, but previous investigations provided no documentation.

Now a team from the University of South Florida is using high-tech archeological methods to document the graves, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Some of these techniques have been used in Third World countries, but what is alleged to have happened at the school can only be described as other-worldly.

In the book "The White House Boys" by Roger Dean Kiser, beatings, abuse and neglect are described in convincing detail.

In heart-rending stories, Kiser describes what happened to him as a result of the abuse.

Beyond the physical and mental suffering, he was taught how to be unhappy: "For a long time I did not know how to love, how to laugh, how to smile, how to joke or how to fool around."

Let's hope the USF researchers provide some closure to the families of the dead boys.

Civilized society demands it.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2012-06-06/story/good-idea-likely-return#ixzz1xKHP6cFR

PLOS BLOG | Diverse Perspectives on Science and Medicine

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Dozier School, Dead Boys, and Forensic Setting to Rights
By daniel.lende



Estabrook went to work with the GPR, which he named Matilda, pushing the device back and forth along the lines, like mowing a lawn. The GPR recorded 250 subsurface samples every 2 centimeters, and Estabrook watched the monitor, noting places where the radar picked up an anomaly, a spot where the subsurface density changes.

At least 81 boys died. Their remains lie in unmarked graves spread over the shuttered campus of the Florida Reform School for Boys. Located in Marianna, Florida, this brutal reform school – also known as the Dozier School for Boys – spread death and damage among the thousands of boys who came through its gates over a period of 111 years.  

Now my University of South Florida colleague Erin Kimmerle is heading a multi-disciplinary team to find the boys’ graves and lead a humanitarian effort to bring some
closure and healing to the boys’ families.

As recounted in the recent Tampa Bay Times article, USF team looks for lost graves at closed Dozier School for Boys, the project “aims to preserve the records, inventory historic buildings, find the graves, identify the forgotten remains, protect the historic cemetery and open it to families.”  Working in collaboration with USF archaeologist Richard Estabrook, Kimmerle and her team have begun to use ground-penetrating radar in the search. Estabrook went to work with the GPR, which he named Matilda, pushing the device back and forth along the lines, like mowing a lawn. The GPR recorded 250 subsurface samples every 2 centimeters, and Estabrook watched the monitor, noting places where the radar picked up an anomaly, a spot where the subsurface density changes.

Ethnography, biological samples, excavations, and more will follow. But for now, using the radar, “We’re finding graves throughout this whole area.”

None of this will come as a surprise to boys who came through the Dozier School. A previous St Pete/Tampa Bay Times article “For Their Own Good” covered the horrific beatings they endured during the 1950s and 1960s: The men remember the same things: blood on the walls, bits of lip or tongue on the pillow, the smell of urine and whiskey, the way the bed springs sang with each blow. The way they cried out for Jesus or mama. The grinding of the old fan that muffled their cries. The one-armed man who swung the strap.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement produced a 2010 executive report of investigations on “The White House Boys,” the main site where the whippings occurred. As one former boy put it: “he was spanked with such force that his buttocks were ‘black and blue and bloody’ and that his underwear was imbedded into his skin.”

In the video accompanying “For Their Own Good,” one man says of the White House, “As soon as they opened the door, it smelled like death.”

But some boys can no longer speak, and Kimmerle is using her skills as an applied biological anthropologist to find remains and document stories around the world. This is work she has done for years. In 2001 Kimmerle served as chief anthropologist for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Kimmerle now heads up USF’s International Consortium for Forensics, Anthropology, and Human Rights, which includes the USF Forensic Anthropology Lab. The Lab offers “human identification, facial imaging, living person age estimation, clandestine grave search and recovery, grave excavation, trauma analysis and expert testimony.”

In addition to her work on the Dozier School, Kimmerle is collaborating with local medical examiners and law enforcement agencies in Tampa to solve cold cases. Four cases have been solved; twelve more cases are featured on the Tampa Bay Cold Case Project site. Each case provides a detailed description, including facial and clothing reconstructions, and asks for information to help identify the deceased.

Photo Credit for the Dozier School graves: Edmund Fountain, St. Pete/Tampa Bay Times; original found here

Photo Credit for Ground Penetrating Radar: Katy Hennig, University of South Florida

Link to USF Team Looks for Lost Graves at Closed Dozier School for Boys

Link to the University of South Florida’s coverage, Lost in the Woods, which includes a photo essay and a 6 minute video that describes the research

Link to For Their Own Good site on abuse at Dozier School

Link to Dr. Erin Kimmerle’s website

Link to USF’s International Consortium for Forensics, Anthropology, and Human Rights


Professor, students hunt graves on Dozier campus       

By: Deborah Buckhalter | Jackson County Floridan
 
An anthropology professor, other researchers and students from the University of South Florida in Tampa will likely spend most of July and August in Marianna, searching to determine whether there are unmarked graves on the old Dozier School Boys campus as their preliminary findings suggest. That information comes from Robert Straley, an alumni of Dozier who helped USF assistant professor and forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle get oriented to the campus after she obtained permits to investigate the site.

Her team used ground-penetrating radar and dug trenches to analyze soil displacements, and have identified a number of irregularities that indicate potential grave sites, according to an article the USF team posted on the university website.

The group found what could be burial cavities in an area of the campus near the official Boot Hill Cementer where 31 are known to be buried. There may be 50 or more previously undiscovered graves, the team suspects, as school records indicate that 84 boy died at the institution between 1911 and 1973.

Kimmerle obtained permission from the Department of Environmental Protection to enter the property, and a permit for archeological research on the site from the state Division of Historical Resources.

The research project is the latest in a series of investigations surrounding the site, that work spurred by ongoing reports that boys were sometimes severely beaten there over the course of at least two decades-the 1950s and 1960s mentioned in particular-during the 111-year history of the campus. Rumors persist that perhaps some of them were beaten to death. A state Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation related to the matter was completed a few years ago, with no determination that there were graves other than the 31 know, and with no findings of wrongdoing associated with the known deaths. The known graves were not opened during that investigation, and Straley called the FDLE’s report a whitewash,” and said he has more faith in the university team that started its work several days ago. He thinks they may be using more sophisticated and in-depth tools and that they can bring new light to bear on the Dozier controversy and help answer lingering questions for the families of boys who never returned home after being sent to Dozier. 

In 2008, the state Department of Juvenile Justice held a ceremony and erected a marker near the so called “White House” on campus where most of the alleged beatings are said to have taken place. The monument reads: “In memory of the children who passed through these doors, we acknowledge their tribulations and offer our hope that they found some measure of peace. May this building stand as a reminder of the need to remain vigilant in protecting our children as we help them seek a brighter future.” The state said these actions were not to be construed as an apology or an admission that any wrongdoing had taken place.

Straley was one of the key men who pushed for an official state review of the grounds a few years back, and is also one of the parties involved in a lawsuit related to Dozier.

For video and more photos from the USF project, visit : http://news.usf.edu/article/templates/?a4479&z123.

WJHG.COM - NBC
Posted: 7:58 AM May 25, 2012
Rumors About Dozier's Past Still Circulate 
The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna has been closed for nearly a year. But the facility's alleged past, as an abusive place, where teenagers and adolescents were beaten, tortured, even murdered, lives on.
Reporter: Ken Amaro, NBC



The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna has been closed for nearly a year. But the facility's alleged past, as an abusive place, where teenagers and adolescents were beaten, tortured, even murdered, lives on.

Now, some college researchers claim they've found new gravesites on the Dozier property.
"It has taken me 19 years to get anybody to believe this." Roger Kiser describes himself as a survivor of the Dozier school for boys. He was there in 1959,1960 and 1961.

"We saw many boys bought out of the white house, we know were dead, black and white, hauled out by wheelbarrow...so we know there is bodies scattered all over the facility."

Kiser wrote the book "The White House Boys an American Tragedy" to reveal not only his experience, but that of many of the young men who were sentenced to the former reform school. "If you stepped off the sidewalk you got beat if you ate too much you got beat, if you smiled you got beat, if you smiled too much you got beat, it was total terror"

It’s a terror he tried to recreate in a film and in his writings. "People will not believe it when you say this was a concentration camp, they absolutely do not believe you."

The Marianna facility was closed in 2008, but its past remains an open book. In addition to locating graves, the U-S-F group is attempting to document the history of the cemetery. Work began in January. "It is going to find out these stories are true, there's broken bones, bodies that have been shot...it is going to prove that."

Kiser says the Justice Department confirmed abuse at state-run juvenile facility. He hopes the next step brings justice. "The next chapter is getting justice for the boys who were killed, justice for the men who survived it because it was horrible and an apology from the state of Florida."

The University of South Florida team members will conduct a computer scan of the data they found to identify what is in the unmarked graves. But they say they'll need a court order to identify who is in the graves.

SEARCHING FOR DECADES-OLD SECRETS
MY FOX TAMPA BAY
TAMPA (FOX 13) - May 21, 2012
 

Thirty-one white crosses may not even begin to tell the story of who is buried on the campus of a now-closed reform school. In a mix of grass, dirt, and thick brush, a team of USF scientists and grad students have been busy working for months
.

They are at the Dozier School for Boys, the former reform school in Marianna, Florida. It's the same place where hundreds of now grown men say they were beaten as children.
 
I think they will find a lot of bodies up there," said Robert Straley. Straley is one of the first men who came out, detailing the horrific abuse at Dozier. The men who are now in their 50s, 60s and 70s say they were beaten by guards at the school. They call themselves The White House Boys, named after the building where the beatings took place. The men also say they saw boys who were beaten, but then never saw them again.

Straley worked in the hospital, on campus. "I saw a young boy, he was crying, his skin was ripped up from the beating. He cried and shook but never said a word for two days. And on the third day, I went in and he was gone. And I dared not ask about him," he said.



Forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and biologists from USF have been to the site four times now. They are working in an area where there's a known cemetery. There are 31 crosses there, but school records show 81 students died while living on the campus, during the 111 years the school was open. So where are the other 50 bodies? And are there even more bodies?  Some of the men believe boys that were beaten to death are buried here.

I think over the next few months, people are going to realize, yes, these vicious beatings did happen, they did beat some boys to death or kill them in some other manner," Straley said.
The USF team says they are there as a humanitarian effort. They are hoping to give families some answers as to where their loved ones are buried. 

Rich Estabrook walks along with a ground-penetrating radar, looking for anomalies in the ground. Each time they find a void underneath, orange flags are placed in the ground.The data shows there are a number of anomalies in places other than the marked graves. It also shows they extend much further out than the cemetery—about 20 meters.

Straley says if they find more bodies, it will give truth to what he and the other White House Boys have been saying all along. Every one of us would feel vindicated, instead of being made out to be liars," he said. Once the team has collected all the data, they will input it in their database back at USF. That will then give them a 3-D image of what they're actually seeing.  The team will not exhume any bodies. They would need a court order for that, requested by a family member of a missing boy.

 

THE STORIES THAT FOLLOW ON THIS PAGE WERE PUBLISHED FROM 2008  - 2010. 

READ THE FULL FDLE REPORT INCLUDING GLENN HESS LETTER BY CLICKING HERE

READ FDLE NEWS REGARDING THEIR FINDINGS

US DEPT OF JUSTICE FINDINGS

READ A WEBSITE ABOUT GLENN HESS AND WHITE HOUSE BOYS DEATHS AT DOZIER (Note: the content on the Glenn Hess website was not written by the Official White House Boys.  The info on the Hess website was gathered by an outside source)

VIEW ABC NEWS VIDEO ON FLORIDA'S POLITICAL CORRUPTION
FOR THEIR OWN GOOD - ST PETE TIMES

For their own good: a St. Petersburg Times special report on child abuse at the Florida School for Boys
By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writers
Ben MontgomeryWaveney Ann MooreTampa Bay Times In Print: Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gov. Charlie Crist has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate 31 graves near the school. “Please determine whether any crimes were committed and, if possible, the perpetrators of these crimes,’’ Crist wrote.  
 
A St. Petersburg Times special report on child abuse at the Florida School for Boys. (This is the most thorough report on the White House Boys)   CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE STORY.

Florida juvenile justice: The dead at Dozier
By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, December 20, 2009

Metal crosses line a hilltop where some of the children who died at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are buried.

-----------------
MARIANNA — Boys are buried on the little hilltop. That much is certain.

Thirty-one metal crosses stand in a clearing in the woods near the campus of the 109-year-old Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, and they're said to mark the final resting place of troubled kids who came here to be reformed.

But no one really knows how many graves are here, or where they are, or who is in them, or how they died.

Dozier has such a long and ugly history of violence and secrets that the governor last year ordered an investigation into the graveyard, to identify the dead and determine whether any crimes were committed. The state can now match names to the 31 crosses on the hill.

But those bodies may not be the only ones buried at Dozier. The St. Petersburg Times has interviewed three former inmates who say they unearthed bones in other parts of the campus. Another man who was in search of his uncle's grave in the early 1990s says a staffer at the school showed him two separate burial grounds. And according to the school's records, at least 50 more boys who died here remain unaccounted for.

About a year ago, former wards of the school who had found each other online started telling stories of awful beatings, of missing boys. The men, who call themselves the White House Boys, filed suit against the state and held a news conference. Reporters rediscovered Marianna and its tiny graveyard.

In December 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the investigation. In May, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced it had found records that showed 29 boys and two men had been buried on the campus since the school opened in 1900.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the School or its staff made any attempts to conceal and/or contributed to the deaths of these individuals," the report said.

Thirty-one crosses. Thirty-one names. Case closed.

• • •

Thomas Varnadoe was 13 when he was sent to the school, then called the Florida School for Boys. He never came home. The mystery surrounding his death and burial has disturbed his family for 75 years.

Thomas was sent to Marianna in 1934 with his brother, Hubert. Hubert's son Glen has heard that the Brooksville boys were convicted of malicious trespassing. He knew his father was released in 1935, and that until the day he died he was deathly afraid of authority. He took literally the Do Not Remove tag on mattresses.

Glen, the CEO of a chemical company in Mulberry, often wondered about his father's experience, the impact it had on his life, and about what happened to his uncle. Why wasn't Thomas Varnadoe buried in the family plot in Hernando County? In the early 1990s, Glen paid a visit to the school looking for answers. He drove onto the campus and explained who he was and what he wanted. After some haggling, a staffer opened a big bound ledger. He ran down the pages of boy after boy until he finally found his father's name, and a notation that he was received on Sept. 22, 1934, and paroled July 29, 1935. He copied the entries on a sheet of paper.

Beside his uncle's name was this: Deceased after an illness of pneumonia. 10/26/34. Thomas Varnadoe was dead a month after he was admitted? Glen didn't believe that a sturdy 13-year-old got sick and died so quickly. Glen asked to see his uncle's grave. A man — Glen can't remember his name or what position he held — drove him across the highway, down a dirt road, to the hilltop cemetery.

There's been a lot of kids buried up here, he remembers the man saying. The man seemed embarrassed about the poor condition of the cemetery. They looked around for a minute, then climbed back into the pickup, drove a short distance, and stopped at another clearing.

We believe there's six or seven other graves over here, Glen remembers him saying.

• • •

In its investigation, the FDLE relied heavily on the school's own records, many of which are faded, damaged or incomplete. Investigators looked through deteriorating ledgers, student record books, old issues of the school paper, the Yellow Jacket. Some documents had been stored in buildings so dilapidated that the records were lost to the elements.

They checked the state archives and aerial photographs and ordered death certificates from the Florida Department of Health. Last December, they visited the cemetery. They took measurements and counted the crosses and combed the nearby woods for disturbed ground or boy-sized indentations. They tried to put together a history of the cemetery. The FDLE interviewed Lennox Williams, the superintendent at the school from 1966 to the mid-'80s, who still lives

in Marianna. Williams said he had found the cemetery overgrown in the early '60s, and he felt like the dead deserved better. So he ordered a Boy Scout troop to clean up and erect 31 concrete markers. He said the number of crosses was based on word of mouth and visible indentations in the ground. Years later, another superintendent, Danny Pate, had new crosses made. Pate still lives in Marianna. He says he went to the cemetery one day around 1996 to have a look around and the place was a mess. Trees had fallen on some of the cement crosses. He ordered new metal crosses. The staff didn't know where the crosses should go, so they guessed, driving them into the ground in four crooked rows.

The FDLE did not use ground-penetrating radar to see where remains were buried, believing it would not be useful because the ground and the bodies were likely too damaged.  "There were too many variables," said Mark Perez, FDLE's chief of executive investigations. The FDLE used school records to try to create a roster of the dead.

The school's Biennial Report for 1911 and 1912 lists one death, the first on record, but no name, and no burial information. Two guards and eight boys died in a dormitory fire in 1914. A telegram to a dead boy's mother said: "Bodies charred beyond recognition. Will be buried here. Greatest sympathy to family."

Three more boys, all black, died in 1915, but there was no cause of death or location of burial. Three more black boys died in 1916. No information besides names and "deceased." Nine more died in 1918, five white and four black, but no other information was given. And on it went, until the last recorded death, a drowning in the Chipola River in 1973.

In the end, the FDLE determined that 81 people died there, but the official records placed just 31 in the cemetery on the hill.

Where are the other 50? The FDLE tried to track them to hometown cemeteries across Florida, but could not.

• • •

Charles Jones got a letter from the Times at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, where he's serving time for stealing a car and running from police. He says he has tried for 20 years to put the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys out of his mind, but the letter brought back painful memories.

One day in 1988, when he was about 16, he was on a work crew clearing land north of the campus. It was hot and nasty work. Then suddenly it stopped. One of the boys had unearthed what looked like human bones. The others gathered around, Jones remembered. The guard noticed and walked over.

What are you boys doing?

When he got close enough to see what they were staring at, he ordered them back into the van. Jones and the others did as they were told. And Jones remembers the guard on the way back to campus saying this: Y'all didn't see anything.

"I know what I saw," Jones said, 21 years later. "I can't forget it."

Asked if there's anybody who can verify his account, Jones doesn't hesitate.

"Jared Hunt," he said. "He was there. He'll remember."

The Times wrote Hunt, also serving time at Union Correctional Institution. He got caught fleeing a law enforcement officer at high speeds and driving with a canceled or suspended license. "We were in ISP work crew," Hunt wrote back. "We discovered what appeared to be human bones in the woods."

• • •

In 1963, Horace Bouler escaped from the school, he said, but he didn't leave the campus. The kid who grew up in the swamps in Winter Garden hid out in the woods on the school's 1,400 acres for weeks. A friendly cook on the black side of campus left food out for him once in a while. One afternoon, he said, he stumbled onto a large graveyard on the property. The graves were unmarked, but there were smallish square indentations in rows. Curious, he dug into the ground with a stick. He found a collar bone, he said, then a skull.

"You go past the cemetery and there's a wooded lot and that's where they buried all the boys," said Bouler, 62 now and living in Oklahoma. "You go straight north like you're going to Alabama, about 500 yards, and you'll find some graves that are unmarked."

• • •

Seventy five years have passed since the sheriff took Richard Varnadoe's brothers away. He's 80 now, retired. He lives in Salt Springs, 25 miles outside Ocala. The sheriff accused his brothers of stealing a typewriter from a woman down the street and nobody listened as his parents swore their sons' innocence. It wasn't long before the judge shipped the two boys to Marianna.

A letter came a month later, Richard remembers. Thomas, 13, was dead. "Everybody was devastated," he said. "It changed everybody. It has always been a cloud over our heads.''  His older brother Hubert came home from Marianna subdued and scared, almost to the point of being cowardly, he said. Stranger still, he wouldn't talk about what had happened to Thomas. "I tried and tried and tried to get him to say something about it," Richard Varnadoe said. "He lived to be 72 and he never said anything about it. He was obviously afraid.''

Did Thomas Varnadoe die from pneumonia? Or something else?

What about the others, the ones whose cause of death was cancer or heart attack? The boy who died during a tonsillectomy? What about Billey Jackson, whose official cause of death was Pyelonephritis, a kidney infection? Woodrow Williams, 67, of Lakeland, remembers attending Jackson's funeral at the school. He said the boys all knew he had been hit in the stomach during a beating.

What about George Owen Smith, whom the Times wrote about in May? His remains were found under a house in Marianna in 1941, his cause of death could not be determined, and his sister remembers a boy telling her family that the last time he saw George he was running across a field and a man was firing a rifle at him.

What about the stories from the former wards? Troy Warren claimed guards made him and another boy dig child-sized holes. Dick Colon claimed he had seen a boy in a tumble dryer. Jerry Cooper said he knew for a fact that a boy with a heart condition dropped dead during an intense workout in the gymnasium. The staff wouldn't let him take a break.

Many of them were orphans or runaways, like Alvin Curtis Laster. He's a minister and motivational speaker in Connecticut now, but in 1966 he had no family, no guardians. "If that kind of a kid were to be never heard from again," he said, "nobody would be there to question it." For him and the other White House Boys, the investigation won't be over until all the bodies are accounted for. As boys they were told not to question authority. Now they won't stop.

But is any of that true? And how do you verify stories a half-century old?

• • •

Now the FDLE says its investigation into the cemetery is not over, and it will check out any new leads. "We didn't say it was absolutely closed," said Perez, of the FDLE. "This case is a 50- or 60-year-old case. We can't expect it to be closed in a few months."

For 60 years, the school had a black campus and a white campus. In the first half of the last century, it was uncommon for blacks and whites to be buried together. But FDLE found no records to suggest there was more than one cemetery. "We're basing our findings on records, family members, former students themselves," Perez said. "Without the evidence to support it, we just don't know."

Without a way to see underground, without proper headstones or a reliable body count, there is only speculation. Perez said the FDLE published the names of the other 50 boys in hopes of generating clues about their whereabouts. Maybe a relative would remember something. Maybe a nephew or a niece or brother would step forward with a shred of evidence.

Richard Varnadoe had only this to offer. "I would just like to have some closure," he said, "and I'd like if someone could find his remains and dig him up and get him down here where we could give him a proper funeral and bury him close to family.''

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8650. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2283.

To view the story on-line, along with all the comments, click here - http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/florida-juvenile-justice-the-dead-at-dozier/1059829

THE BUZZ - FROM THE STAFF OF THE TAMPA BAY TIMES
MAY 15, 2009

FDLE says Dozier school can account for all 31 bodies

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced its findings into the unmarked graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna Friday and concluded that there were 31 bodies buried there between 1914 and 1952, and each of the deaths were attributable to a known cause.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the school or the staff made any attempt to conceal any other deaths,'' said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey at a press conference Friday.

Although the investigation into the alleged abuses is active and ongoing, FDLE said it was releasing the report about the graves sites to start answering questions of families of former students.

"We found no student who had specific knowledge of any unexplained death or burial at this site,'' said Bailey said. "We found no evidence to suggest that this was a secret or hidden cemetery. In our quest to determine the identify of the individuals buried at the grave site we conducted an extensive and exhaustive review of available records.''

Using official records of the school,death certificates, news reports and obituaries, aerial photographs and interviews with more than 100 former students and staff of the school, FDLE determined that the official record is clear and all suspected bodies are accounted for.

But investigators didn't exhume the bodies or do an analysis of the site to determine if there were more than 31 bodies buried there, said Mark Perez, FDLE chief of executive investigations. 

And when asked why they relied on official documents when there are allegations that school officials may have tried to hide beating death of a student by failing to record it on official documents, Perez said: "There is nothing to refute the information that is provided in that information.''
.Posted by Mary Ellen Klas at 2:29:21 pm on May 15, 2009

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TAMPABAY TIMES

A Times Editorial
FDLE investigation of Dozier School for Boys fails to find truth
In Print: Sunday, May 24, 2009
 

Gov. Charlie Crist's reaction to allegations of decades-old child abuse at the former Florida School for Boys (now the Arther G. Dozier School for Boys) followed a familiar pattern. The stories were told, the public responded and the governor ordered an investigation. But the result so far, little more than a glorified audit of records pertaining to the school's cemetery by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, has been an utter disappointment. Thursday's deposition of one of the school's alleged former abusers was a reminder, once again, that Florida still hasn't determined the full truth about what happened at the isolated campus where the state warehoused wayward boys for the last century. Crist has a moral obligation to continue to respond to that challenge, be it through FDLE or some other means.

It was a band of former residents from 50 years ago, now calling themselves "The White House Boys," who pressed Crist to act in December. More than 200 former residents have signed on to sue the state — prompting Thursday's deposition of former houseparent Troy Tidwell. A recent investigation by the St. Petersburg Times found that individually and collectively, former residents' stories strike similarly horrible and chilling themes of physical abuse and possible death.

Grown men, many of whom have struggled to build a life in the wake of Dozier, told reporters life at the North Florida school could include strap whippings in a low concrete white building that left blood on the walls, and sexual abuse in an underground "rape room." Their accounts included witnessing boys trapped inside running clothes dryers, orders to dig child-size graves and friends who disappeared after being hauled off to the "white house."

But FDLE steered clear of much of that emotional testimony — and did not interview one of the key leaders of the White House Boys group. The agency took the most literal interpretation of Crist's charge to investigate the school's unmarked graves. Using official records and newspaper reports, which the agency conceded were incomplete and deteriorated, investigators said it appears that 31 people are buried there, all 31 appear accounted for in written records and no deaths appear to be suspicious.

But the agency didn't exhume any bodies nor utilize ground-penetrating radar to discern if more could be buried there. And while the agency acknowledges the written records made it impossible to ascertain the location of burial sites, it appears little weight was given to the fact that the official records would have been maintained by the alleged torturers themselves. The result is a report that reads more like a possible defense argument for the state than an investigation that considered alternative outcomes.

FDLE said it will continue to investigate allegations of abuse at the school. Crist should make it clear that the agency has broad discretion to take its investigation wherever it may lead. Individual testimonies make it clear that bad things happened at Dozier to many boys. Unfortunately, the FDLE's first report suggests the state needs to dig harder to uncover the truth.

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NORTH COUNTRY GAZETTE - SERVING NY AND BEYOND

No Evidence Of Criminality In Dozier School Deaths
By North Country Gazette On March 12, 2010 · 

MARIANNA, FLA—In an unsurprising decision, State Attorney Glenn Hess of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit says there’s insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges in the deaths of individuals buried in more than 30 unidentified graves sites at the state operated Dozier School for Boys in Marianna (Bay County).

Hess based his decision on investigative findings provided to him by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing.

This article provided as a complimentary read for you.  To read more articles at The North Country Gazette or for future visits, a subscription is required or your access will be denied,  forbidden notice received. Sign up at ad right of this article

The 13-page report of the FDLE concludes that  “with the passage of over 50 years, “no tangible physical evidence was found to either support or refute the allegations of physical or sexual abuse.”

On Dec. 9, 2008, Governor Charlie Crist directed the FDLE to investigate the unidentified graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, including the location of the graves and the entity that owned or operated the property at the time the graves were placed; identification, where possible, of the remains of those buried on the site; and if any crimes were committed, and if possible, the perpetrators of those crimes.

On May 15, 2009, FDLE released a comprehensive report detailing the findings of the first two items.

On Jan. 29, FDLE concluded its investigation into the third item: allegations surrounding criminal abuse of students at the school.  During the course of this portion of the investigation, FDLE interviewed six former staff members and more than 100 former students and their relatives regarding beatings, methods of discipline and sexual abuse alleged to have taken place at the school.  FDLE also conducted a forensic examination of the White House building, which is the location discipline was typically administered to students.

Those findings were then provided Hess.

http://www.northcountrygazette.org/documents/doziersummaryappendix031110.pdf

The FDLE concluded that 24 of the individuals died as a result of illness or accident. Of the 24, eight students and two staff members were killed in a dormitory fire in 1914.  Twelve students perished as a result of influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or other medical conditions.  Two students died of accidental deaths: one drowned and another fell from a mule and ruptured a lung, Bailey said.

In 1944, one student was murdered by four other students who were planning an escape.  Accounts indicate the victim was killed because of his knowledge of the escape plans.  The four involved were charged in the death.

In September 1940, an individual ran away from the school and was later found deceased four months later under a Marianna residence.  Records reflect a coroner’s inquest but determination of death could not be made due to decomposition.

Five individuals, all of whom were buried from 1919 – 1925, had no listed cause of death. The only notation found in records indicated that they were buried in the cemetery.

In addition to identifying the 31 individuals buried at the ceremony, the investigation documented 50 student deaths that occurred from 1911 to the last known death at the school in 1973. These deaths were mostly accidental or illness-related and their circumstances are documented in school records and death certificates.  Two of these deaths are cases in which students murdered other students.  In one case, an escapee from the school was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy.  The records available document all of these student deaths.  There is no information indicating burial in was the cemetery.

The investigation found no evidence that the school or the staff caused, or contributed to, any of these deaths, according to the FDLE.  The investigation found no evidence that the school or its staff made any attempts to conceal the deaths of any students at the school. In all cases, the deceased were accounted for in official records, according to the FDLE.

In conducting the investigation, FDLE interviewed former students and staff and reviewed records from school ledgers, student record books, the school’s newspaper (The Yellow Jacket), local and national newspapers, the Florida Department of State Library and Archives and the Florida Department of Health’s Division of Vital Statistics.  The Department of Juvenile Justice cooperated fully in the investigation and provided FDLE with access to all available records, files and documentation.

FDLE’s investigation also found that during the time the graves were placed (1914 – 1952), the school was owned or operated by the Governor Appointed Commissioners and the Board of Commissioners of State Institutions.

FDLE’s investigation began Dec. 9, 2008 at the direction of Governor Charlie Crist.  Governor Crist charged FDLE with determining the entity that owned or operated the property at the time the graves were placed;  identification, where possible, of the remains of those buried on the site; and if any crimes were committed, and if so, the perpetrators of those crimes.

 Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys currently serves as a DJJ-operated High Risk Residential Commitment Facility for male youth 13 to 21 years of age who have been committed by the Court.

Allegations had been made that black students were physically and sexually abused at the facility in the 1950s and ‘60s, then a reform school for blacks.  Four men, former inmates who say they were beaten while at the facility, have asked for an investigation. Several individuals claim that they witnessed black students being killed.

One former resident at the school, Donald Stratton, now 63, says that twice a week, children aged 9 to 16 were taken into a room a beaten. Stratton himself says he was beaten three times.

Another former student who says that he worked in the school’s laundry room, said he found a young child had been placed in a clothes dryer and that the child died as a result but he doesn’t know what happened to the body.

 The graves are marked only by white metal crosses and the former inmates allege that the graves contain the bodies of former residents at the school who were beaten to death by the state.  3-12-10

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NEWSHERALD.COM - PANAMA CITY 
Florida Freedom Newspapers

State authorities announced Friday that this grave site located on the grounds of the former Florida Industrial School for Boys does not contain the bodies of abused victims connected to the "White House Boys" case.

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/news/school-74269-abuse-tallahassee.html#ixzz1wI1UTJg6

UPDATE: FDLE rules no abuse victims buried at reform school (see REPORT)
Plaintiffs in ‘White House Boys' case alleged beating victims were buried at Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys
May 15, 2009 06:00:50 PM
By ANDREW GANT / Florida Freedom Newspapers
 
MARIANNA — State investigators said 31 graves at a reform school in Marianna belong to victims of disease, accidents, fire and, in one case, murder — but not abuse.

In a report released Friday regarding what is now known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found "no evidence to suggest that the school or its staff made any attempts to conceal and/or contributed to the deaths of these individuals."

The investigation began in December after former students made public allegations of abuse at the school, once known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys. Gov. Charlie Crist asked for identities of those buried at the school and whether their deaths involved foul play.

Named after a cinder-block building on school grounds, the "White House Boys" still claim they were abused and that others were beaten to death. More than 200 men have joined a class-action lawsuit against the state.

"I honestly did not believe for a single moment that they would come out and say there were deaths attributed to staff members," Bryant Middleton, a Fort Walton Beach war veteran and one of four named plaintiffs in the case, said Friday.

"If they would actually provide information of boys that were ... beaten and killed by staff members, I don't believe for a moment that the FDLE would release that information in any type of conference," Middleton added.

Of the 31 dead, eight students and two staff members died in a fire in 1914, FDLE investigators said in the report. Twelve more died of influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria or other diseases. One drowned, and another fell off a mule and ruptured his lung.

Another boy was killed by four students who were planning an escape, and still another was found dead under a house months after his own escape, according to the report.

There are five bodies in the cemetery with unknown causes of death, and at least 50 other boys who weren't buried on site died at the school between 1911 and 1973.

There still is no evidence to suggest foul play by staff, the report said.

Several men interviewed said they heard of boys who disappeared or saw dead bodies. Some heard staff tell boys they woud be killed by "boy hunters" or taken into snake-infested fields if they tried to escape. Others heard escapees were killed by local farmers and tilled into the soil.

One student who fled the school in 1961 was shot in the back of the head by a sheriff's deputy. But the FDLE characterized the other accounts as folklore.
In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, much of the school's discipline occurred in the "White House," where Middleton claims lashings with a large, metal-reinforced leather strap were brutal and common. Officials have acknowledged some beatings occurred. The school remains open, but the White House is sealed.

Attorneys have scheduled a deposition next week with Troy Tidwell, a former cottage father who Middleton says administered several beatings. Tidwell has said the allegations are exaggerated.

The FDLE will issue a separate report on abuse at the school.

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/news/school-74269-abuse-tallahassee.html#ixzz1wI1Fl04e

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FDLE investigation into Florida School for Boys cemetery is over, but mystery lingers

By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Saturday, May 16, 2009


 George Owen Smith, shown in what his sister says is one of the last photos of him alive, makes a face for the camera in an undated photo. Smith died at age 14 under murky circumstances at the Florida School for Boys in 1941.   [Family photo]







TALLAHASSEE

Ovell Krell does not know what killed her brother Owen almost 70 years ago. Officials back then told her family he crawled under a house and died. She was only 12, but

it sounded like lies. Her family has always believed Owen, 14, was killed by staff at the Florida School for Boys.

Now she's 80, and a state investigation and a glossy report offer no comfort and no new answers.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded an investigation Friday into a cemetery at the Marianna school, now called the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

Its report identifies 31 people buried beneath white metal crosses on the campus, and finds no evidence that the school or the staff contributed to their deaths. But investigators also admit:

• They relied heavily — at times exclusively — on incomplete and deteriorated records kept by the school.

• They don't know the exact whereabouts of any of the remains because the graves were unmarked for years, until a superintendent ordered Boy Scouts to make markers.

The same man supplied the number of graves — 31 — based on an educated guess. Some 20 years later, part of the cemetery was destroyed by prisoners farming the land.

Another superintendent ordered pipe crosses erected, but workers had no reference point and placed them based on "how they thought they should be arranged."

• They did not exhume remains or use ground penetrating radar to determine how many bodies are in the ground or where they are placed.

Last month, the state-run reform school was the subject of a St. Petersburg Times special report, "For Their Own Good," about dozens of men who said they were severely beaten there as boys in the 1950s and '60s in a cinder block building called the White House.

In recent weeks the Times has also spoken with two men who say they were forced as boys to dig child-sized holes on the campus. These men, suspicious of authority, would not cooperate with investigators, fearing they would destroy evidence.

Mark Perez, FDLE chief of executive investigations, said "hundreds" of witnesses "did not provide any first-hand knowledge . . . that would refute the information provided in these records."

But investigators did not talk to several people who claim to have knowledge of suspicious deaths. They did not talk to Roger Kiser, a founder of the White House Boys,

the group featured in the Times report. They didn't talk to Johnnie Walthour, a 73-year-old Jacksonville man who told the Florida Times-Union a friend died after a beating in the early 1950s.

And they did not talk to Ovell Krell.

• • •

Owen and Ovell. They weren't angels, but they sang like them. Brother and sister, listening through the scrub for the Saturday night sounds that wafted out of the juke joint. Singing, heads to the heavens, to the South Florida Ramblers.

Owen made his first guitar out of a cigar box because his daddy couldn't pack oranges fast enough to buy the real thing. The Depression strangled Central Florida, but Owen tried to sing it away.

He had a rambling spirit. He would split for Gasparilla Island, without telling a soul, and come back with stories about fishing the gulf with his grandpa.

Then, in 1940, when George Owen Smith was 14, he left and didn't come back.

His parents got word he was behind bars in Tavares. Auto theft, even if he didn't know how to drive. The sheriff shipped him off to the state's only reform school, a mean place called the Florida Industrial School for Boys.

Owen sent a letter home to let them know he was fine. Then the weeks went by with no word.

The next they heard he was in Bartow, not far from Auburndale, caught running from reform school. He had almost made it home.

Then came the letter from Marianna. "I got what was coming to me," the boy wrote.

After that, the letters stopped, no matter how many stamps his mother licked.

Frances Smith wrote to the school's superintendent, Millard Davidson, in December of 1940, asking about her son. Davidson wrote back saying no one knew where Owen was.

"So far we have been unable to get any information concerning his whereabouts,'' said his letter, dated Jan. 1, 1941.

She wrote back, telling him she would be at the school in two days to search for her son.

That letter apparently arrived in Marianna around Jan. 23, 1941. That's when the Smiths heard the news from an Episcopal priest in Auburndale. He was apologetic. Said the school had found Owen.

A friend drove them to Marianna. The school's superintendent told the family that Owen's remains were found under a house in Marianna. They identified him by his dental records and the markings on his laundry.

The superintendent led the family through the woods to a clearing, to a patch of fresh-turned earth.

Even at 12, Owen's sister knew something wasn't right. Her brother goes missing. Then just before the family arrives to help look, he's found under a house, and buried before his own parents can pay their respects?

The family met with another boy in the presence of the superintendent. The boy told them he and Owen had escaped. They were walking toward town when the headlights hit them. The boy stood still. Owen split. The last time the boy saw Owen, he told the family, he was running across an open field. Men were shooting at him.

• • •


Ovell Smith is Ovell Krell now. She was a Lakeland police officer for two decades, one of the first female officers in Florida. She still doesn't understand what happened to her brother. Why would he crawl under a house? Why would he not come out, even if he were starving or ill? Why would a 14-year-old boy just lay down and die?

Maybe that's why she has kept those letters for all these years.

Her mother was never the same. For 40 years, she spent every day in bed, and every night on the porch, listening for Owen to come whistling home.

Early this month, Krell wrote a letter to the FDLE describing the family's account. She got no response.

"I think they should dig further," she said. "I stake my life that there was a conspiracy."

According to the report released Friday, George Owen Smith "escaped from the school in September of 1940 and his remains were found in January 1941 under the Marianna residence of Ms. Ella Pierce. After a coroner's inquest, no cause of death could be determined due to the extreme decomposition of the body."

The report says he is buried with 28 children who died from fire, pneumonia, drowning, acute nephritis, tuberculosis, a ruptured lung, homicide, all while in state custody. He is one of five children whose death certificate lists no known cause of death.

Case closed.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at (727) 893-8650 or bmontgomery@sptimes.com. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at (727) 892-2283 or wmoore@sptimes.com.
PHOTO CREDITS: EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times
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Sister still wants answers

At magazine.tampabay.com, you can:

• Read the entire FDLE report.

• See video of Ovell Krell talking about her
brother's death.

• Read "For Their Own Good," a special report on abuse at the Florida School for Boys.

 Who is buried in the cemetery?

• Ten students and two staff members who died in a dormitory fire Nov. 18, 1914:

Bennett Evans, carpentry teacher; Charles Evans, guard; Joe Wetherbee, Walter Fisher, Clarence Parrott, Louis Fernandez, Harry Wells, Earl E. Morris, Waldo Drew, and Clifford Jeffords, 15, of Clearwater

• Leonard Simmons, May 9, 1919, no cause of death

• Nathaniel Sawyer, Dec. 12, 1920, no cause of death

• Arthur Williams, Feb. 26, 1921, no cause of death

• Schley Hunter, April 15, 1922, pneumonia

• Calvin Williams, Dec. 31, 1922, no cause of death

• Charlie Overstreet, Aug. 19, 1924, died during tonsillectomy

• Edward Fonders, May 18, 1925, drowned

• Walter Askew, Dec. 18, 1925

• Nollie Davis, Feb, 8, 1926, pneumonia

• Robert Rhoden, of St. Petersburg, May 8, 1929, pneumonia

• Samuel Bethel, Oct. 15, 1929, tuberculosis

• Lee Smith, Jan. 5, 1932, influenza

• Joe Stephens, May 9, 1932, fell from mule

• Thomas Varnadoe, Oct. 26, 1934, pneumonia

• Richard Nelson, Feb. 23, 1935, pneumonia

• Robert Cato, Feb. 24, 1935, pneumonia

• Grady Huff, March 4, 1935, acute nephritis (kidney disorder)

• James (Joseph) Hammond, May 2, 1936, tuberculosis

• George Owen Smith, Jan. 24, 1941. Runaway found under a house, death certificate indicates no cause

• Earl Wilson, Aug. 31, 1944, strangled and beaten by four fellow students

• Billey Jackson, Oct. 7, 1952, kidney infection

• Two dogs, details uncertain.

• Sue the peacock, Dec 27, 1947. According to her obituary: "An elaborate funeral service was held and several of the students were present to pay full respects to her remains."

As seen in:

Florida Boys School - Nightmare Continues

Story Summary: The men remember the same things: blood on the walls, bits of lip or tongue on the pillow, the smell of urine and whiskey, the way the bed springs sang with each blow. The way they cried out for Jesus or mama. The grinding of the old fan that muffled their cries. The one-armed man who swung the strap. They remember walking into the dark little building on the campus of the Florida School for Boys, in bare feet and white pajamas, afraid they'd never walk out. For 109 years, this is where Florida has sent bad boys. Boys have been sent here for rape or assault, yes, but also for skipping school or smoking cigarettes or running hard from broken homes. Some were tough, some confused and afraid; all were treading through their formative years in the custody of the state. They were as young as 5, as old as 20, and they needed to be reformed. It was for their own good

Photos are credited to ©
Edmund D. Fountain/St. Petersburg Times/ZUMA.
EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN, is a Florida-based (U.S.) photojournalist specializing in documentary photography, portraiture and reportage. His work is represented by ZUMA and has been honored multiple times by the National Press Photographers Association, The Society for News Design,The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar and the Florida Society of News Editors. (Credit Image: © ZUMAPRESS.com)   

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WTVY.COM - DOTHAN, AL

FDLE Concludes Investigation into Past Abuses at Dozier School for Boys
State Attorney says there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges
Posted: 1:55 PM Mar 11, 2010
Reporter: Press Release 
  
On Dec. 9, 2008, Governor Charlie Crist directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate 32 unidentified graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Governor Crist charged FDLE with investigating:

1) The location of the graves and the entity that owned or operated the property at the time the graves were placed;

2) Identification, where possible, of the remains of those buried on the site; and

3) If any crimes were committed, and if possible, the perpetrators of those crimes