THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE BOYS ORGANIZATION

DOZIER GRAVES Pg 5

PHOTOS FROM THE SEPTEMBER 25 PRESS CONFERENCE ARE HERE
All photos are "click to enlarge". View more photos by clicking the numbers at the bottom of the image collection.   By the way, the images are in reverse order, last to first, and I'm having a hard time correcting that, so bear with me until I can reverse the order.  Thanks. 

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CNN US

Remains of 2 more boys identified at shuttered Florida reformatory

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014

(CNN) -- A research team has identified two more sets of remains from unmarked graves at a former reformatory in Marianna, Florida, reported the University of South Florida.
Thomas Varnadoe and Earl Wilson were the second and third students at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys identified through a DNA match, USF said in a press release issued Thursday. Wilson was the first African-American student identified
For years, stories circulated that boys were beaten, tortured and murdered at the school about 65 miles west of Tallahassee, Florida, but nobody was ever prosecuted. The school opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 for budgetary reasons.
Records about who died at the school are sketchy, authorities have said, so an effort to locate and identify remains began several years ago.
 Digging up answers to a 50 year mystery School graves could hide 'evil' past
Investigators now say there's evidence 98 boys died at the school. Remains have been excavated from 55 unmarked graves, USF says.
Thomas Varnadoe, 13, was sent to the school in September 1934 with his older brother, Hubert, USF said. According to USF, a death certificate said Thomas died of pneumonia 34 days after being admitted.
His body was found very close to the body of George Owen Smith, the first student whose remains were identified, USF said. Thomas's remains were positively matched with DNA from his brother, Richard Varnadoe, USF said.
Four students killed Earl Wilson, 12, a few days after he arrived at the school in August 1944, USF said. Medical evidence presented at the trial of the students listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head, USF said. Results of the trial were not included in the press release.
Wilson was positively matched with DNA collected from his sister, Cherry Wilson, USF said.
His body was found in an area of the school grounds where crosses were placed in the 1990s, though the crosses didn't reflect the location of the graves or the number of children buried.
"Our ability to provide answers and the physical remains of those who died to their brothers and sisters after more than 70 years is a remarkable privilege," said Erin Kimmerle, lead researcher and USF associate professor of anthropology, "We recognize the need to help families and victims find resolution, no matter how many decades pass."

The Tampa Tribune

Centcom to brief Sen. Nelson on airstrikes
By Howard Altman | Tribune Staff 
Published: September 24, 2014  

(note:  towards the end of this article, the Senator makes note of the USF findings)

Sen. Bill Nelson, an early proponent of using force in Syria against the Sunni insurgent group Islamic State, will receive a briefing on operations from U.S. Central Command today, according to his office.


A senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Nelson authored a resolution giving President Barack Obama authority to conduct those operations. He lashed out at his colleagues for not taking up the measure before leaving town.


“I don’t think we should adjourn and go home with matters of war and peace in front of us,” he said on the Senate floor.


Monday, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, Centcom’s commander, gave the order for U.S. and coalition nations to hit Islamic State targets in Syria and for U.S. aerial assets to carry out attacks on the Khorasan Group. The latter is an al-Qaida-linked organization that Pentagon officials say was “nearing the execution phase” of a plan to attack Europe or the United States.


“The battle against ISIS in Syria has begun,” Nelson said in an email to the Tribune, using an alternate name for the Islamist group. “It’s not going to be just a few days. It’s going to be a long-term deal. It’s going to be probably years. But we have no choice. This is a vicious, diabolical group that must be stopped.


More remains identified at youth detention facility
Researchers say they have identified the remains of 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe and 12-year-old Earl Wilson at the site of the...




“I have also called for the U.S. to insist that the Arab nations who have joined us for the anti-ISIS military operations in the region to help shoulder the cost,” he said. “So far we’ve been joined by Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Iraq should help pay as well.”


After his Centcom briefing, Nelson will visit the University of South Florida to meet with forensic researchers working to identify the remains of boys found buried in unmarked graves at the now-defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. He’ll be joined by Polk County resident Glen Varnadoe and members of another area family of a young boy who died at Dozier.


The USF research team is expected to announce its latest findings, including the identification of a second set of human remains found on the school grounds, as Thomas Varnadoe, Glen Varnadoe’s uncle, who died at the school decades ago, according to a news release.


“And just today, researchers identified a third set of remains, those of a 12-year-old boy named Earl Wilson, who died in 1944 reportedly under circumstances that were never satisfactorily explained by Dozier officials,” the release states.


The Varnadoe and Wilson remains are among the 55 bodies exhumed at the school to date, according to the release. And researchers are expected to expand their search area early next year.


haltman@tampatrib.com


(813) 259-7629


Twitter: @haltman


The Guardian

Exhumed remains identified from graves at notorious Florida school
Researchers name two boys, one of whom was beaten to death in a ‘sweat box’ on the grounds of abandoned Arthur G Dozier School for Boys

Associated Press in Tampa

Thursday 25 September 2014 15.02 EDT

White metal crosses mark graves at the cemetery of the former Arthur G Dozier School for Boys. Photograph: Michael Spooneybarger/Reuters
Researchers have identified two more sets of remains buried on the grounds of a former Florida Panhandle reform school for over a half-century, the team announced Thursday.


The University of South Florida team said it has identified the remains of 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe and 12-year-old Earl Wilson, who both died while confined at the Arthur G Dozier School for Boys.


Varnadoe died in 1934, reportedly of pneumonia. Wilson was beaten to death in 1944, reportedly by four other boys while in a small confinement cottage on the property, known as the “sweat box”. The other boys were convicted in his death.


In August, researchers said they had identified George Owen Smith as the first of 55 bodies they exhumed from the school property.


Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have for at least a decade accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that it couldn’t substantiate or dispute the claims because too much time had passed. Many former Dozier inmates from that era call themselves “the White House Boys” after the white building where they say the worst abuse took place.


Thomas Varnadoe’s nephew, Glen Varnadoe, said at a Thursday news conference that his father also was sent to the school.


“It’s been a long road for me and my family,” said Varnado, of Polk County.


It was a priority for the family to “remove [Thomas] from the atrocity-laden soils.”


A large photo of the wooded area where the graves were found, along with a grainy picture of Thomas – and a photo of the sweat box – were displayed at the news conference.


Records showed 31 burials at the Marianna school between its opening in 1900 and its 2011 closure for budget reasons. But USF researchers found the remains of 24 additional people between last September and December.


In 2008, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice held a ceremony to officially “seal” the building and recognize the boys who passed through it. Some of “the White House Boys” were present and media coverage of the event, as well as an order from then-governor Charlie Crist, led to the investigation. Researchers, reacting to the allegations, excavated the graveyard at the school.


At its peak in the 1960s, 500 boys were housed at the Dozier school, most of them for minor offenses such as petty theft, truancy or running away from home.


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


“If one of your kids were kept in such circumstances,” he said then, “you’d be up there with rifles.”


Some of the bodies were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.
Tampa Bay Times

Dozier graves yield more names, but how young boys died still a mystery
Ben MontgomeryBen Montgomery, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, September 25, 2014 1:04pm

VIDEO: 


TAMPA — The red dirt outside the little Panhandle town of Marianna continues to give up its secrets.


Researchers said Thursday they have identified the remains of two more boys unearthed from a graveyard at Florida's notorious reform school. The remains of Thomas Varnadoe and Earl Wilson, who both died under suspicious circumstances while in custody at the Florida School for Boys, also known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, will be returned to their families.


"It's been a long road for me and my family," said Glen Varnadoe, nephew of Thomas Varnadoe. "It gives me great pleasure and spiritual relief that Thomas will not spend eternity in the humanly demeaning surroundings, but will rest in peace in eternity with his brothers and family members who have not forgotten him."


The identifications are the second and third made by forensic anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of South Florida who have excavated 55 burials from the campus of what was once the largest reform school in the country.


Thomas Varnadoe was 13 when he was sent to the school in 1934. He never came home. The mystery surrounding his death and burial has disturbed his family for 75 years.


Thomas was sent to Marianna 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. Hubert would never talk about what happened to his brother.


Glen always wondered: Why wasn't Thomas buried in the family plot in Hernando County?


In the early 1990s, Glen went to the school looking for answers. After some haggling, a staffer opened a big bound ledger. He ran down the pages of boy after boy until he found his uncle's name and this: Deceased after an illness of pneumonia. 10/26/34. That he died a month after he was admitted never set right with Glen, who first spoke publicly with the Tampa Bay Times in 2009.


The school newspaper reported that Varnadoe had been ill for a long time upon arriving at the school, but the family says that's not true. Thomas was a spry, healthy boy.


The state closed the school in 2011, after 111 years in operation and dozens of scandals. When Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF who is leading the research, approached the state about trying to determine how many boys were buried on campus, the state refused because it had put the school up for sale. Glen Varnadoe, former CEO of a chemical company in Mulberry, sued the state and a judge halted the sale to give researchers time to find Thomas' remains.


Richard Varnadoe of Salt Spring, 86 now, was overwhelmed by the news his brother had been found. "I had to grow up without Thomas," he said. "I'm still emotional about it."


The circumstances of Earl Wilson's death remain a mystery as well.


Earl was 12 when he was sent to the school in 1944 on a larceny charge. He died 72 days later while detained in a tiny 7- by 10-foot building with eight other boys, ages 11 to 17. Known as a "sweat box," the shed had a bucket for a toilet, a bucket for drinking water, one set of bunk beds and a constantly burning light bulb. Some of the boys had been there days, others weeks.


Earl's death certificate says he was autopsied and the cause of death was "Head Injury, Blows on Head." But the doctor's conclusion was inconsistent with the testimony of the boys confined with Earl. Four boys were convicted of murdering the 12-year-old and sentenced to life in prison. The prosecutors relied on testimony from the four other boys.


Earl's family heard from another boy later who said Earl died when school officials stuffed his nose with cotton as punishment for smoking. The boy also said staffers would administer beatings three or four times per day.


"My parents were distraught," said Earl's sister, Cherry Wilson, 76. "They didn't even know how he got picked up."


Her son, Wayne Wilson, said the find has brought them relief.


"You can't explain it," he said. "It was like a release of pressure."


The remains were in poor condition and researchers have been unable to determine cause of death. But U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said that the circumstances call for deeper investigation.


"We've seen a pattern of these things," Nelson said, "and if you talk to these White House Boys … then you start to see a pattern of behavior that leads you to suspect that there might be crimes committed."


The White House Boys are old men who were severely beaten in a building called the White House during the 1950s and '60s.


Thomas Varnadoe and Earl Wilson were identified by the University of North Texas Health Science Center's Missing Persons Lab in Fort Worth using DNA from family members.


The USF team plans to continue searching the campus for other burials.


"Our ability to provide answers and the physical remains of those who died to their brothers and sisters after more than 70 years is a remarkable privilege," Kimmerle said. "We recognize the need to help victims and families find resolution no matter how many decades pass."


Contact Ben Montgomery at (727) 893-8650 or bmontgomery@tampabay.com. Follow @gangrey.


Dozier graves yield more names, but how young boys died still a mystery 09/25/14 [Last modified: Thursday, September 25, 2014 10:10pm]
BAY NEWS 9

By Tamara Lush, Associated Press
Last Updated: Thursday, September 25, 2014, 4:33 PM
TAMPA -- 

Researchers have identified two more sets of remains buried on the grounds of a former Florida Panhandle reform school for over a half-century, the team announced Thursday.


The University of South Florida team said it has identified the remains of 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe and 12-year-old Earl Wilson, who both died while confined at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.


Varnadoe died in 1934, reportedly of pneumonia. Wilson was beaten to death in 1944, reportedly by four other boys while in a small confinement cottage on the property, known as the "sweat box.'' The other boys were convicted in his death.
In August, researchers said they had identified George Owen Smith as the first of 55 bodies they exhumed from the school property.


Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have for at least a decade accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that it couldn't substantiate or dispute the claims because too much time had passed.


Many former Dozier inmates from that era call themselves "The White House Boys'' after the white building where they say the worst abuse took place.


Thomas Varnadoe's nephew, Glen Varnadoe, said at a Thursday news conference that his father also was sent to the school.


"It's been a long road for me and my family,'' said Varnadoe, of Polk County.


It was a priority for the family to "remove (Thomas) from the atrocity-laden soils.''


Over the decades, both boys' families wondered where the children were buried. The Varnadoe family also questioned the cause of death.
"We got the report that he died from pneumonia. We didn't believe that in a minute,'' said Richard Varnadoe, who is 85 but was 5 years old when his older brother Thomas was sent to the school for allegedly stealing a typewriter.


Richard provided DNA to the researchers and it was a perfect match with the body found in one of the simple wooden caskets.


"It's been really bad in a way and really good in a way. It's almost unbelievable to go back 80 years,'' he said. "I'm elated.''


A large photo of the wooded area where the graves were found, along with a grainy picture of Thomas and a photo of the sweat box were displayed at the news conference.


U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said the investigation "has only just begun.''


"There's a lot of mysteries still out there,'' he said.


Records showed 31 burials at the Marianna school between its opening in 1900 and its 2011 closure for budget reasons. But USF researchers found the remains of 24 additional people between last September and December.


In 2008, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice held a ceremony to officially "seal'' the building and recognize the boys who passed through it.


Some of "The White House Boys'' were present and media coverage of the event, as well as an order from then-Gov. Charlie Crist, led to the investigation. Researchers, reacting to the allegations, excavated the graveyard at the school.


At its peak in the 1960s, 500 boys were housed at the Dozier school, most of them for minor offenses such as petty theft, truancy or running away from home.


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 heating for the winters and buckets used as toilets.


"If one of your kids were kept in such circumstances,'' he said then, "you'd be up there with rifles.''
Some of the bodies were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.
NEWS4JAX

2 more sets of remains from reform school ID'd
Second, third sets of remains identified from Dozier School for Boys


Author: Chris Parenteau, General assignment reporter, cparenteau@wjxt.com
Associated Press
Published On: Sep 25 2014 04:29:53 AM EDT  
TAMPA, Fla. -
Researchers have identified two more sets of remains buried on the grounds of a former Florida Panhandle reform school for over a half-century, the team announced Thursday.


The University of South Florida team said it has identified the remains of 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe and 12-year-old Earl Wilson, who both died while confined at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.


Varnadoe died in 1934, reportedly of pneumonia. Wilson was beaten to death in 1944, reportedly by four other boys while in a small confinement cottage on the property, known as the "sweat box." The other boys were convicted in his death.


Last month, researchers announced 14-year-old George Owen Smith was the first of 55 bodies exhumed to be positively identified through a DNA match.


Smith was sent to what, at the time, was known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, later known as Dozier School, in the late 1940s.


Smith's remains were the first to be exhumed last August from a shallow grave, north of where the marked graves were on the campus property.


Researchers are continuing to work to identify the other remains recovered from the unmarked cemetery at the former Florida reform school in Marianna.


Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have for at least a decade accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that it couldn't substantiate or dispute the claims because too much time had passed. Many former Dozier inmates from that era call themselves "The White House Boys" after the white building where they say the worst abuse took place.


Thomas Varnadoe's nephew, Glen Varnadoe, said at a Thursday news conference that his father also was sent to the school.


"It's been a long road for me and my family," said Varnado, of Polk County.


It was a priority for the family to "remove (Thomas) from the atrocity-laden soils."


A large photo of the wooded area where the graves were found, along with a grainy picture of Thomas -- and a photo of the sweat box -- were displayed at the news conference.


The school has documented 31 deaths to boys sent to the school during the 1900s, marked by rusty, white crosses in a field on the property. USF researchers found 55 sets of remains in that one area of the campus in both marked and unmarked graves.


Some of the bodies were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.


The remains that have been exhumed from the reform school have all been sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for DNA matching.


Tommy Moore attended the school twice in the 1950s and spoke with News4Jax back in January. He said the beatings and killings were still happening at that time.


"They were buried where you wouldn't think you could find them," Moore said. "You had about eight or nine supervisors that would beat you to death. And you'd go down there and take 35 to 40 licks with a barber strap, there's not too many people who can survive that."


Ovell Krell, George Owen Smith's sister, told News4Jax at the beginning of the year that she hoped her brother's remains would eventually be found, and that she respects the work of the researchers.


"They have worked long and hard to find out the answer to all of this. And if we know the answer, find out why. Hopefully we are one of the lucky ones that gets some closure."


After the announcement that her brother's remains were found, Krell said that she planned to bury her brother's remains next to her parents in Auburndale.


In 2008, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice held a ceremony to officially "seal" the building and recognize the boys who passed through it. Some of "The White House Boys" were present and media coverage of the event, as well as an order from then-Gov. Charlie Crist, led to the investigation. Researchers, reacting to the allegations, excavated the graveyard at the school.


At its peak in the 1960s, 500 boys were housed at the Dozier school, most of them for minor offenses such as petty theft, truancy or running away from home.


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 heating for the winters and buckets used as toilets.


"If one of your kids were kept in such circumstances," he said then, "you'd be up there with rifles."
10 NEWS



Tampa, FL -- Researchers at the University of South Florida announced Thursday they have positively identified two more sets of human remains found at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.


Relatives of those identified were quick to share their relief and emotional stories.


"Tears, you name it," said 85-year-old Richard Varnadoe.


It was Richard's DNA that was used to ID the remains of his older brother Thomas who died at the school at the age of just 13. Accused, falsely, said Richard, of stealing a neighbor's typewriter.


Thomas became the second victim named among dozens of unmarked graves at the former youth prison.


"This has been great for me," said Richard. "I didn't think I'd live to see the end to this."

Researchers at the University of South Florida say they have successfully identified two more sets of skeletal remains from Florida's Dozier School for Boys.


On Wednesday there was a surprise as researchers also confirmed the identification of a third victim, the first African-American, as 12-year-old Earl Wilson.


Wilson was murdered in 1944, by four other boys confined to a small building on the Dozier property called a sweathouse.


His sister Cherry's DNA was a perfect match.


"Well, I'm glad it all came out," she said, "Thank God, because I have been hoping and been praying that the truth would come out about all of that."


The USF program opens painful wounds. A dark, shameful chapter in Florida's history, filled with death and mysterious disappearances.


Deaths 10 years apart, one murdered


In September 1934, Thomas Varnadoe was sent to Dozier with his older brother, Hubert. According to the death certificate, Thomas died of pneumonia 34 days after being admitted.


Thomas, whose body was found very close to George Owen Smith's, the first set of remains that was identified.


Deaths 10 years apart, one murdered


In September 1934, 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe was sent to Dozier with his older brother, Hubert. According to the death certificate, Thomas died of pneumonia 34 days after being admitted.


Thomas, whose body was found very close to George Owen Smith's, was positively matched with DNA collected from another brother, Richard Varnadoe.


Several days later, Earl was killed by four of the students, according to court documents. During the trial, medical evidence presented listed the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head.


Researchers found Earl's grave within the area of marked crosses on the Dozier property, which were only ceremoniously placed at the site in the 1990s and didn't reflect the location of grave shafts or the total number of children buried there. He was positively identified with DNA collected from his sister, Cherry Wilson.


Read:


USF press release on the identification of Thomas and Earl


Several days later, Earl was killed by four of the students, according to court documents. During the trial, medical evidence presented listed the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head.


Researchers found Earl's grave within the area of marked crosses on the Dozier property, which were only ceremoniously placed at the site in the 1990s and didn't reflect the location of grave shafts or the total number of children buried there. He was positively identified with DNA collected from his sister, Cherry Wilson.


Children at the youth prison were allegedly beaten and used for low-cost, even slave labor.


"You start to see a pattern here," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.


Nelson has been instrumental in funding the program. He says any criminal or civil rights violations will be determined by what researchers find.


"This investigation really has just begun," said Nelson.


Of the 55 sets of skeletal remains found on the Dozier property, researchers say it's likely only four or five more can be positively identified through DNA testing given today's limitations.


The rest of the young victims will likely be buried in a more dignified memorial on the former school's property.


They can't go back in time, say researchers, to afford the rights to the children who were victimized. But they can offer resolution and peace to the families.


First boy identified


Years of hard work and research are finally helping to bring closure to families who sons, brothers, and love ones died at the school decades ago.


Dozens of bodies have been found in unmarked graves at the former youth detention facility in Marianna, Florida. Early last month, researchers identified their first set of remains as George Smith.


Smith's family attended a press conference where state dignitaries, researchers, and family members gathered to discuss the findings.


"At least I know he's dead," said Smith's sister, Ovell Krell, 85. "We didn't know for 73-and-a-half years."


Smith's bones were the first of 55 sets of remains to be identified using DNA, found by University of South Florida researchers.
USF NEWS - University Beat
4:09 PM WED SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

USF to Announce Names of Two More Dozier Remains

By MARK SCHREINER
 
University of South Florida researchers will announce Thursday afternoon that they've determined the identities of two more sets of remains buried on the grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.


The Ledger and a release from Senator Bill Nelson's office say that one is Thomas Varnadoe, 13, who died in 1934, a month after arriving at Dozier.


Nelson says the second boy, Earl Wilson, 12, died in 1944 under circumstances that were never satisfactorily explained by Dozier officials.


USF officials won't confirm either name.


Varnadoe's nephew, Glen, has been pushing for two decades to find out what happened to his uncle and to other boys who died under mysterious circumstances at the now-closed reform school.


USF anthropologists have determined that dozens of bodies were buried in a Dozier cemetery, where they exhumed remains from 55 unmarked graves last year.


Listen Listening...0:57
Glen Varnadoe told WUSF's Florida Matters in February 2013 that Thomas and his older brother Hubert were sent to Dozier in 1934 for allegedly stealing a typewriter from the home of a local teacher. Thomas died of pneumonia less than a month after arriving there.


Varnadoe said his family wasn't notified of Thomas' death until almost two weeks later. That, along with the fact he was buried in an unmarked grave, led them to long wonder what happened to Thomas.


"I think there's questions about records being destroyed and how many records were available and just total denial I think from the state's part of not embracing this and bringing closure to this horrible chapter in Florida's history," Glen said. 


Glen's father, Hubert Varnadoe, returned home from Dozier after nine months. Hubert and Thomas' brother, Joseph, told WUSF's University Beat in December 2012 that Hubert never said anything about his time there.


“He would not speak to anybody about the conditions there or the people there or anything else. He was so traumatized by being there, to start with, and going through what they went through, that he would not talk about it," Hubert, then 83, said. 


Last month, USF researchers announced DNA testing helped them identify the first set of remains as George Owen Smith, 14, of Auburndale, who died in 1940, reportedly after running away from the school. Smith's sister, Ovell Krell, told The Ledger she recently buried her brother next to their parents.


LISTEN:  Click HERE



Houston Chronicle

Texas researchers ID bones of boys killed at deadly reform school
By Carol Christian | September 26, 2014 |

Texas researchers are playing a major role in the painstaking identification of bones unearthed at an infamous Florida reform school that closed in 2011.

The Missing Persons Lab at the University of North Texas Health Science Center is working with a team from the University of South Florida in Tampa to identify remains found in 55 unmarked graves on the school grounds. Excavation of the remains began in late summer 2013.


The Florida State Reform School, most recently known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, opened Jan. 1, 1900, on 1,400 acres in Marianna, Fla. As early as 1901, there were reports of children being chained to walls in irons, brutal whippings and involuntary servitude, according to a report on the school's cemetery by researchers at the University of South Florida.


At a news conference Thursday in Tampa, University of South Florida team members announced that the bones of two more boys have been identified, bringing the total number of matches to three. The first identification made through DNA analysis was announced in August.


One of the two new cases was 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe, who died in 1934, making the 80-year-old case one of the Missing Persons Lab's oldest positive identifications, the school said.


Varnadoe was sent to the school in 1934 and died a month later. His grave location was unknown until the recent excavations and DNA match.


The other case was Earl Wilson, who was sent to Dozier at age 12 in 1944. He died 10 weeks later, and four other boys at the school were convicted of his murder, according to a news release.


Scientists at the Missing Persons Lab test and analyze bones and teeth, along with DNA samples from surviving family members to help identify the remains.


"These families spent a lifetime wondering what happened to their sons and brothers," said Arthur Eisenberg, chair of Molecular and Medical Genetics at the Fort Worth school. "It's gratifying to know that we can help provide some answers."


Nine families with ties to the Dozier school have provided 13 DNA samples.


The Health Science Center in Fort Worth is the nation's only lab set in an academic center that is approved to upload genetic data for unidentified remains to the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, a database known as CODIS.


Earlier this year, the nationally known DNA lab helped solve the mystery of what happened to two South Dakota high school girls who disappeared in late May 1971. They had somehow driven off a road but their car, with their remains inside, wasn't found until September 2013.

UPI

Two more bodies identified at shuttered Florida reform school

Researchers identified the bodies of two boys found in unmarked graves at a Florida reform school as Thomas Varnadoe and Earl Wilson.
By Danielle Haynes   |   Sept. 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM  


 MARIANNA, Fla., Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Investigators identified the bodies of two more boys dug up from unmarked graves at a notorious Florida panhandle reform school.
So far, a total of about 55 graves have been unearthed at the graveyard at the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys by researchers from the University of South Florida. The school is situated on 1,400 acres of land in Marianna, about 60 miles northwest of Tallahassee.


Researchers have now identified four of the bodies they have exhumed, the latest being Thomas Varnadoe and Earl Wilson.


Both the boys died under suspicious circumstances.


"It's been a long road for me and my family," Glen Varnadoe, the nephew of Thomas Varnadoe, told the Miami Herald. "It gives me great pleasure and spiritual relief that Thomas will not spend eternity in the humanly demeaning surroundings, but will rest in peace in eternity with his brothers and family members who have not forgotten him."


Thomas was 13 when he was sent with his brother, Hubert, to the school in 1934. Archives at the school indicated he died within a month of being admitted to the school of pneumonia.


Earl was 12 when he was sent to the school in 1944. He died a few months later while locked inside a so-called "sweat box" on the school campus. His cause of death was listed as "head injury, blows on head," and four other boys in the sweat box with Earl were convicted of murdering him.


Another student told Earl's family the boy died after school officials plugged his nose with cotton after he was caught smoking.


The state closed the 111-year-old school it ran in June 2011 after a century of scandal involving allegations of abuse, beatings, rapes, torture and even murder of students by staff.


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