THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE BOYS ORGANIZATION

Dozier Graves Exhumation - Latest News

THIS IS ONE OF MANY PAGES WITH NEWS ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS, THE EXCAVATION & EXHUMATION BY USF ANTHROPOLOGISTS OF THE UNMARKED GRAVES (BURIAL GROUNDS, CEMETERY) AT FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS (a.k.a. DOZIER, a.k.a. FLORIDA INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL FOR BOYS) IN MARIANNA, FLORIDA, AND ANYTHING ELSE PERTAINING TO THE INFAMOUS REFORM SCHOOL.  THIS PAGE BEGINS WITH THE NEWS FROM JANUARY 28, 2014.   FOR NEWS PRIOR TO 1-28-14, CLICK HERE and HERE.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE  SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT ABOUT USF PROGRESS AT DOZIER (FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS)

Search continues for graves at Dozier
By Wesley Higgins, NEWS EDITOR
USF - "The Oracle" July 17, 2014   

According to some reports in Northwestern Florida, no additional unmarked graves were found outside of Boot Hill at the Arthur G. Dozier School for boys, where 55 bodies were exhumed earlier this year.
However, USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez USF archaeologists were not finished looking for bodies at the school in Marianna, Florida. 
“We got lots and lots of work to do before we’re anywhere close to having any sort of resolution,” she said. 
Media reports were based on a 33-page report released July 8 as a procedural requisite to the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (FBAR) that disclosed findings of 33 areas of interest at the South Campus dormitory site.
Though there have been no discoveries outside Boot Hill so far, the search radius is 3 acres out of 159 in the large Dozier property.
Wade said the accounts of survivors, families, staff and historical documents lead USF researchers to believe there are likely more undiscovered graves somewhere.
“There’s a ton of property left to explore,” she said. 
To look for clandestine graves, Erin Kimmerle and her USF team use ground-penetrating radar to look for grave shafts hidden underneath the ground’s surface. 
Though the radar has yet to lead to any discoveries on the South Campus, Wade said researchers would continue to explore the property until at least August when USF’s access to the site is set to expire.
The Florida Cabinet, which issued a land use agreement separate from FBAR’s permit, will decide whether to let researchers continue their search.
Wade said the USF team believes there are other regions of interest, even if no graves are found in the current search area.
“We got boys buried with no gravestones,” she said. “Our goal is to bring these children home to their families so they can bury them in a way they feel appropriate.
If more bodies are found, USF will work with law enforcement to collect DNA and track down relatives.
Wade said there is information that researchers are not yet ready to disclose to the public, but will be presented to the Florida Cabinet next month.
USF will issue a final public report in January.
 -------------------------------------------------

Sheriff investigates claims of 'torture,' killings at Okeechobee reform school

The boy was accused of planning to run away. Guards handcuffed him to a cot, he says, and beat him with a leather strap until blood soaked his jeans.

"It was torture, plain and simple," said Johnson, 68, who now lives in Knoxville, Tenn. "They beat us kids. Some of us they beat to death."

Johnson and other men scarred from their experience at the reform school here have prompted the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office to launch an investigation into a dark period in Florida history. Some say boys were killed by men whose paychecks came from the state. They say there are bodies buried on campus. The Sheriff's Office is taking those claims seriously.

"Any time there's an accusation like this, we have to check it out," said Capt. John Rhoden, who is leading the investigation. "If there's a body out there somewhere, I'd sure like to find it."

• • •

By the mid 1950s, the notorious Florida School for Boys in the Panhandle town of Marianna was so full that kids slept head to foot, two to a twin bed. Since its opening in 1900, it had grown to be one of the largest reform schools in the country.

To ease the overcrowding, the state sank $4 million into a new facility modeled after Marianna on 1,800 acres north of Lake Okeechobee. The town celebrated the new jobs.

"Sunday, December 1, 1957, will be a day long-remembered in Okeechobee, for on this day comes a turning point in the welfare and the way of life in this area," gushed the Okeechobee News in a front-page story about the groundbreaking, attended by 1,500 residents and then-Gov. LeRoy Collins. The paper said the new school "will grow to be the finest school of its kind in the world."

Two years later, the state crammed kids onto buses in Marianna and began shipping them to the new facility, designed to hold 500 boys. Key staffers were transferred as well to run the school, the same men accused of administering beatings at Marianna.

It wasn't long before the tenor of the headlines changed.

"Outburst of Runaways Irks Officials at School for Boys," read one.

What no one seemed to realize was that the form of discipline employed at Marianna — extreme beatings with a leather strap — was being employed at Okeechobee as well.

"If you saw it from the outside, you'd think they were being really nice," said Louis Alexander, 64, who was committed to the school in 1963, at the age of 14. "But there was no niceness in these people. No compassion."

"We were tortured, mentally, physically and emotionally, by a small group of men," said Gary Rice, 63, who was sent to Okeechobee in 1966 for running away from a children's home. He remembers hearing the guard's keys jangle as he got a beating in a building known as the "Adjustment Unit."

"If they didn't hit your a-- at 150 miles per hour, they didn't hit you. These were wickedly cruel men."

Rice says that after a beating he was put in solitary confinement for weeks with nothing but a New Testament. Officials wouldn't let his adoptive mother see him when she showed up on campus. He also remembers one traumatizing night in lockdown.

"I'd been in there quite a while when they brought this black kid in. When they brought him into the light, I thought, 'My God, he's so tiny.' He looked like he was 9 or 10 years old. He was just a baby. They took this kid into a room by himself and they beat this kid and they beat this kid and they beat this kid. I was in tears. I counted 90 licks before the kid passed out. But they kept going. About 105, he woke up and started screaming again.

"I lost count around 140. I never saw him again on campus. I think they killed him. How could a kid that little take that kind of a beating?"

The Tampa Bay Times interviewed a dozen former wards of Okeechobee, and their stories of abuse are similar.

"From where my cottage was, we could watch the man with the strap, could see his silhouette," said Mike Sapp of Fort Pierce. "Sometimes you could hear the kids screaming. It was terrifying, man."

"A friend of mine said he could hear it from the hallway of the school. He lost count after 80," said Johnny Marx, a pastor in Sarasota who was sent to Okeechobee in 1959. He learned how to slip his jeans on without ripping off the scabs.

Roger Puntervold, 59, who now lives in Roanoke, Ala., says he got 60 licks for trying to run away, through thick swamp and wait-a-minute vines, and spent two months in solitary confinement, naked, as the sores on his backside grew infected. Years later, when he was a man, he drove to Okeechobee with a .38 snub-nosed revolver and sat outside the front gate.

"I knew where they all lived," he said. "I can't tell you why I didn't go in the school, why I didn't go in and kill somebody. I remember being really mad, sitting there, thinking about those beatings."

• • •

Rhoden, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office, met in May with the men who had complaints. They are part of a group called the White House Boys, made up of more than 500 former wards of the schools at Marianna and Okeechobee, and they've been pushing state officials to acknowledge abuse they endured and apologize. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the claims in Marianna but found no prosecutable offenses.

Rhoden has scoured the archives of the Okeechobee News for stories about the school and interviewed elderly residents who worked there.

The detective, who has a Barney Fife poster on his office wall, believes the stories about beatings. "In my mind, that happened." But most, if not all, of the accused are dead, and the statute of limitations has expired on all crimes besides murder and rape of a child under 12, he said.

"We're looking only at prosecutable offenses," he said. "I'm looking for bodies."

Several former wards remember deaths at the school, and some remember seeing an unmarked cemetery behind the dairy barn. But their memories are crusty, and details are few.

"One of the hardest things is you've got a lot of word of mouth," Rhoden said. Folklore. "It's hard to get somebody who says they actually saw it."

Joseph Johnson says he remembers hiding behind a bush and watching men carry a boy outside after a beating, load him into a car, and drive him behind a barn. When they came back, the boy wasn't with them. The next day, Johnson and his buddy walked behind the barn and saw freshly dug earth. But who was the boy? And how do you find a hole 50 years later on a campus that has changed considerably?

The newspaper archives show that four youths were killed trying to escape between 1959 and 1968. Two were killed in a car wreck as they fled the school. One was shot by a woman who lived near the school when she caught him in her house. One boy named Cherry Black was found dead inside an above-ground septic tank weeks after he went missing.

The students were told he ran away and drowned while trying to hide from guards.

"I believe they killed him," said Nate Dowling, 71, of Bradenton, who was there at the time. "I'm quite sure they did."

Rhoden needs more than speculation, though, and investigating a 50-year-old death is proving difficult. He said he has to limit his focus to Okeechobee and disregard reports about the similar school at Marianna, where anthropologists have unearthed 55 bodies from a cemetery, nearly double the number the state said were buried there.

Rhoden is waiting for more specific information before he searches for burials on the campus, which is still open and run by private contractor G4S.

Rhoden's investigation, even if it's incomplete, has brought a sense of relief to the men who spent time at Okeechobee. Many of them blame the experience for years of mental anguish, drug addiction, busted relationships. That someone believes them at all is therapeutic.

Johnson has been haunted by anxiety and nightmares for years. He dreams about a peg-legged man named Frank Zych coming to get him at night, making him dig a grave, locking him in a septic tank. The man is always on the edge of his mind, the shadowy legacy of a failed juvenile justice system.

Now, after 50 years, he can fight back.

"It's like I can finally say, 'You ain't getting away with this,' " he said. "Now the truth is going to come out."

Contact Ben Montgomery at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650. Follow @gangrey.
S
heriff investigates claims of 'torture,' killings at Okeechobee reform school 07/11/14 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2014 10:48pm]

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Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys
Report: No new graves found on South Dozier campus - USF continues work; full project report due in January


Posted on Jul 15, 2014 by Angie Cook

As work continues on the school’s exhumation project, University of South Florida researchers report no new graves were found during work on the South Campus of Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
Authored by E. Christian Wells, Erin H. Kimmerle and Antoinette T. Jackson with the University of South Florida's Department of Anthropology, the 33-page report filed with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research late last week details work concluded under Archaeological Research Permit No. 1213.018, a small part of the work being done at the now-closed reform school.
Wells led an archaeological exploration of “possible clandestine graves on the South Campus,” using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and subsurface testing “to evaluate archival evidence and eyewitness accounts of human interments on the South Campus of the school from 1914-1952.”
In some of the 33 areas surveyed, totaling nearly 3 acres of the South Campus, GPR revealed unexpected results. Wells confirmed in his report that none of the anomalies his crew investigated had grave shafts or other burial features.
The report said future work should focus on a buried dormitory, “where a number of individuals died in the 1914 fire.”
Because not all fire victims were buried in the Boot Hill burial ground, Wells suggests it’s possible some were buried at the South Campus dormitory site. The location of that dormitory was revealed in May, but the report says large-scale clearing with heavy equipment is needed to locate any possible grave sites or human remains.
While the Wells report offers conclusions based on researchers’ findings on the South Campus, more information about the work is expected early next year.
In a statement from the school, USF spokesperson Lara Wade-Martinez said the report Wells sent to the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research “was procedural and does not represent the USF research team’s findings or the conclusion of the research.”
She says the Wells report was issued to FBAR as a procedural requirement of the issued permit and the expiration of it and the North Campus permit doesn’t mean USF is done at Dozier.
“Those permits are not relevant to what we’re working under now,” Wade said.
Researchers still have access to the site through sometime in August, under a land-use agreement that was approved by the Florida Cabinet after the FBAR permits were issued that allowed USF to begin preliminary work. Later this month, USF will present its findings to the Cabinet, which will then decide if researchers are to continue their work at Dozier.
Earlier this year, USF reported that 55 sets of remains had been located and disinterred from areas in and around Dozier’s Boot Hill Cemetery. Of those 55, Wade says only five have had their DNA work returned from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
“We do not have results back on race of the boys. We don’t know when they died,” she said.
“We are not done with the work.”
USF is expected to release a final public report on the project in January.
  ---------------------------------------------
This is a radio show with White House Boys
 Robert Straley, William Price, and James
 "Harley" De Nyke, Terry Burns,
 Robert Baxter, and Jerry Cooper.
NEWS4JAX.COM

DNA, digital X-rays used to ID school remains

Author: Associated Press
Published On: Apr 15 2014 02:59:32 PM EDT 

Dozier facial composite
 


TAMPA , Fla. -  
A researcher from the University of South Florida said Tuesday that a team of forensic experts is using DNA, skeletal analysis and digital X-rays to identify the remains from a former reform school on the Panhandle.


Erin Kimmerle and Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee met with U.S. Sen Bill Nelson to share what they have found at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.


So far, Kimmerle said, DNA has been fully analyzed on 12 sets of remains.


"It's a very slow process, but it's thorough," she said.


University of South Florida researchers began excavating the graveyard at the now-closed school in September. The dig finished in December.


Official records indicated 31 burials at the Marianna site, but researchers found the remains of 55 people.


Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have 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.


Kimmerle said that it will take months to extract and analyze the DNA from the 55 exhumed bodies. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said his agency is trying to help by looking for relatives of some of the boys that were known to have been buried at the school.


Kimmerle showed Nelson a computerized image of a young boy - a facial composite of one of the sets of remains excavated from the site. The photo is of an African American boy, about 10 years old.


"It's an effort to put a face with the remains," she said.

All the bodies found were interred in coffins either made at the school or bought from manufacturers, Kimmerle said. Some were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.

Some residents have questioned whether the graves are related to the alleged abuse at the school and have said the graves shouldn't be exhumed without permission from surviving relatives.

Kimmerle that it's unclear if there are other graves elsewhere on the school site. The property is 1,400 acres and her team has excavated about five acres - although she has received tips that graves are located elsewhere on the property.


MY FOX TAMPABAY

Dozier victims remembered

Posted: Apr 13, 2014 10:31 PM 

ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

There's a push to re-open criminal investigations into former guards at the Dozier Reform School.

People packed the Unitarian Universalist Church to hear stories and the names of 77 victims who's bodies were recently exhumed from unmarked graves.

"Dead, buried and forgotten," Rev. Kathleen Korb said. "This happened because we didn't care. These children were ignored and just thrown away, swept under the rug and forgotten, and I need something to help me deal with that."

Korb opened the church's doors to those who want further investigation into the school and former employees.

In 1950, Bob Baxter spent ten months at the school after he says his mother committed him. A few months in, Bob had enough and escaped. Four days went by without food until the guards found him wandering in the woods. He was beat, tortured, then beat some more, Bob explained.

"That's 100 years of stuff you can't even read about in horror magazines," Baxter said. "I mean, it makes things like the holocaust seem trivial."

Bob is one of many that have signed the petition to criminally investigate former guards, even though the statute of limitations has expired to do so.

"Somewhere along the lines, somebody in the state of Florida is going to have to stand up and say it's time to get this crap over with," Baxter said. "I'd like an apology: the state to say 'this will never happen again to another boy, never happen again to another child.'"

Read more: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/25236536/2014/04/13/dozier-victims-remembered#ixzz2z05kio5T
Follow us: @myfoxtampabay on Twitter | FOX13TampaBay on Facebook
WTSP.COM

DNA testing of remains found at Florida's Dozier School for Boys will take months
7:36 PM, Mar 6, 2014 



Fort Worth, TX -- The DNA testing of bones recently sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center from the now-closed Dozier School for Boys in the Florida panhandle will likely take months to complete.

After University of South Florida researchers announced they'd unearthed 55 bodies at Dozier -- 24 more than official records said were buried there -- officials sent bone and tooth samples from 5 of the bodies to Texas for testing.

"It's not that it takes so much time to produce a DNA profile, it takes so much time to review the results and analyze the data and have a second person come in and analyze the date," said UNT Health Science Center associate professor Rhonda Roby.

"Our standards require us to have two independent scientists review that data and then we have a review of that case file and then we have... an administrative review. So the process can take many, many months."

Roby explains the testing process begins with sanding down a portion of the bones, then cutting out a section that can be pulverized into a powder.

Scientists say because of the age of the Dozier bones and because they don't yet know who they're going to cross-check the DNA with, to identify the remains they're using mitochondrial DNA.

"And so we can go to the individual's maternal aunt or we can go to the individual's maternal aunt's daughter who would be the person's cousin, or if that person isn't living we can go to their kids, male or female."

The Dozier School for Boys, located in Marianna closed in 2011. The school has been the subject of rape and abuse accusations by former boys who were sent there.

USF researchers have a permit to continue looking for bodies buried at the school through early August.  See photo gallery below this box for photos.

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

Re:  Photo gallery below.. Photos are from WTSP.com and the University of South Florida.   There are many pages.  To enlarge each photo, CLICK TO ENLARGE.   Change pages to see more images, by clicking on each of the numbers below the photos. 
To All,
 If a body has been located on this spot by chance, FLORIDA WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN PERIOD!!!!!
Jerry Cooper, President, Official White House Boys

WASHINGTON TIMES




Enlarge Photo

Photo by: Edmund D. Fountain

University of South Florida anthropology student Meredith Tise marks a parcel of land to be examined with ground penetrating radar at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Marianna, Fla. Researchers from USF enlisted the help of teams of cadaver dogs in their search for additional grave sites. The remains of more than 50 people have been unearthed from a graveyard at the former reform school with a history of abuse, researchers said. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Edmund D. Fountain

Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
Saturday, Feb 15, 2014
Bob Martinez takes up fight to get reparations for Dozier victims
By Jerome R. Stockfisch | Tribune Staff 
Published: February 15, 2014   |   

TAMPA — For the state to recognize, acknowledge, and perhaps even compensate victims of abuse at a notorious Panhandle boys’ home, advocates say they’ll have to frame the campaign as another Rosewood — the town burned to the ground in a fatal 1923 racist melee.

They've picked up some added muscle to get it done — former Gov. Bob Martinez, now a policy analyst with the Holland & Knight law firm. Martinez has taken up the cause and will advocate in Tallahassee for the former boys home residents known as the “White House Boys.”

“I'm familiar with the issues. I knew it was a troubled site historically,” Martinez said Friday.

In fact, the former governor once took action against administrators at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, also known as the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, dismissing some of the center's administrators during his tenure as governor from 1987-1991.

One of his predecessors, Gov. Claude Kirk, who served from 1967-1971, paid a visit to the school and concluded that if parents knew the circumstances their children were in they would “be up there with rifles.”

Martinez will help lawyers from the Masterson Law Group navigate the state Capitol, where their best hopes lie to win formal recognition of atrocities described by former wards of the school.

Tom Masterson says he is representing some 500 men who were ordered to the school as boys, many to suffer cruel abuse and beatings in a cottage known as the White House.
❖ ❖ ❖
The White House Boys tried and failed in the courts, with a civil suit in 2009 dismissed because of statutes of limitations. They've tried the Legislature through its claims bill process but were rebuffed because such actions typically require a court judgment and award.

Masterson said Friday the best strategy might be to mimic the path taken by advocates for victims of the Rosewood massacre.

In that case, 70 years after a white mob killed four black men and burned the black hamlet near Cedar Key to the ground, lawmakers submitted legislation to compensate victims. Then-speaker Bolly “Bo” Johnson, a Democrat from Milton, convened an academic research team made up of professors from the state's major universities to investigate Rosewood and report its findings to the Legislature.

A special master reviewed the evidence and concluded that it was “clear that government officials were responsible for some of the damages sustained by the claimants,” and recommended a bill favorably to the Legislature.

In their next session, in 1994, lawmakers approved $2.1 million in reparations for those displaced and survivors.

Following the Rosewood road map “to me, would be the logical thing to do at this stage,” Martinez said.

In order to accomplish that, the White House Boys will have to have some champions in Tallahassee. That's where Martinez and his years of influence come in.

In addition to his role as former governor, he was Tampa's mayor from 1979 to 1986. He held a Cabinet-level office as the nation's second drug czar under President George H.W. Bush.

The White House Boys welcomed the news that Martinez was on board.

“This is a good thing. He's a man with a lot of power. I'm very glad that he has taken up our cause,” said Robert Staley of Clearwater, a Dozier ward from 1963 to 1964. “Everybody who walked through that door should get something. I think they should get something that shows them the state of Florida cares enough to make them feel better, and give them an apology, and maybe help them out of a financial situation that they're in. A lot of people are in a bad way.”
❖ ❖ ❖
Masterson said many of those who spent time at Dozier have physical disabilities relating to their treatment and show signs of post-traumatic stress, anger, and depression. Many have been unable to maintain friendships and relationships.

The lawyer isn't talking about financial terms yet. A class of 500 plaintiffs dwarfs the 10 or so that survived the Rosewood massacre and split the reparations, not counting families who were run out of town and those who received college scholarships.

“If nothing happens financially, if they just acknowledge it — and I'd like to see them do something to memorialize it — it would be a step in the right direction,” Masterson said.

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of South Florida continue to examine the site.

Anthropology professor Erin Kimmerle and a team of USF professors and graduate students turned their attention to Dozier after the allegations of the White House Boys caught the ear of then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008. Crist ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the complaints of abuse and the status of a cemetery on the school grounds.

FDLE concluded there was no evidence of foul play and 31 graves on the premises were legitimate and documented.

Kimmerle's group, conducting much more advanced research, has since found 55 graves at the site. jstockfisch@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7834

USF researchers unearthed 55 bodies from Dozier, more than state claimed

"None of that rang true," said Ovell Krell.

Seventy-three years later, she still wants to know what happened, and where he's buried.

Researchers from the University of South Florida are trying to help. They announced Tuesday they have exhumed the remains of 55 boys who died at the notorious state-run reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

That's 24 more than the 31 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a cursory investigation in 2009 on orders from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. The FDLE relied on incomplete school records and did not use ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery.

The number even exceeds USF's earlier estimate of roughly 50, which was based on ground-penetrating radar.

Among the unidentified remains — many of which appear to have been buried unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths — anthropologists found thousands of artifacts they hope to date and compare to school records to help determine the identities of the boys buried. They found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, buttons, bottles of embalming fluid and a marble in a boy's pocket. They found more modern debris, signs that part of the cemetery had been used as a dump. They also found remains under a road, under a tree and spread throughout surrounding forest. Only 13 were found in the area marked as a cemetery with pipe crosses, which is on a forgotten corner of campus.

The team, led by forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, who has called the project a "humanitarian effort," began work in early 2012. The tedious excavation didn't begin until August, after the university cleared political hurdles and won approval from Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. "This has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right," Kimmerle said.

They hope DNA from the families of those known to have died at the school will also shed light on the identities of the remains. USF and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office have collected DNA from about a dozen families and are trying to track down more relatives of the dead.

The anthropologists will return to campus soon to continue to search for a purported second cemetery.

The state closed the facility in June 2011 after a century-long cycle of scandal and short-lived reform. The school, 60 miles west of Tallahassee, was founded in 1900 and was once the largest of its kind in the nation. It has been known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. Over the years, kids were locked in irons, beaten with a leather strap in a building called the White House, locked in isolation for as long as three weeks and hog-tied.

In October 2008, five former wards went public with stories of extreme physical and sexual abuse at the hands of guards. They were featured in a Tampa Bay Times series called For Their Own Good. More than 500 men have come forward with similar stories of being abused by staff at the school, according to a lawyer with Masterson & Hoag, the St. Petersburg firm representing the men.

Troy Tidwell, one of the few living guards accused of abuse, refused to talk to the Times but admitted in a deposition to spanking boys. He normally gave them 8 or 10 licks with a leather strap, he said.

Hundreds of men say that's a lie.

"They made me sit on a boy to hold him down because he couldn't take it," said Arthur Huntley, 68, still haunted by the memory. He and his brothers spent years at Dozier in the 1950s for skipping school. He wasn't surprised that researchers found far more graves than school records reflect. "We were always suspicious, because guys would run away and never be seen again," he said. "What are they trying to hide?"

Some Jackson County residents have fought the effort at every turn. When FDLE released its report in 2009, which concluded there were 31 graves, local historian and blogger Dale Cox touted his own corresponding research and said the media should apologize. "They printed wild accusations of murders and secret graves with no supporting evidence," he said, according to a Jackson County Times article headline "FDLE Confirms: No 'Mystery Graves' at Dozier." "Now they should make up for it."

Cox has since revised his estimate to 55.

"As far as Marianna and Jackson County are concerned, our community has been vindicated," he wrote Tuesday in a blog post headlined "USF confirms: No Mass Grave at Dozier School."

"The media will never say that and USF will never say that, but we know it and we can hold our heads a bit higher today."

Ovell Krell just wants her brother back. "It would be the answer to many a years of prayer," she said.

"I want to get him out of there and put him between my mother and daddy in Auburndale."

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

USF researchers unearthed 55 bodies from Dozier, more than state claimed

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 10:07am 

That's 24 more than the 31 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a cursory investigation in 2009 on orders from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. FDLE relied on incomplete school records and did not use ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery.

The number even exceeds USF's earlier prediction of 49, which was based on ground-penetrating radar.

Among the unidentified remains — many of which appear to have been buried unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths — anthropologists found artifacts they hope to date and compare to school records to help determine the identities of the boys buried.

They found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, shirt buttons, bottles of embalming fluid and a child's marble. They hope DNA from the families of those known to have died at the school will also shed light on the identities of the remains. USF has collected DNA from about a dozen families and hope to track down more relatives of the dead.

PHOTO GALLERY FOR THIS ARTICLE

The team, led by USF associate professor Erin Kimmerle, who has called the project a "humanitarian effort," began work in early 2012. Excavation, which is tedious, didn't begin until August, after the university cleared several political hurdles and won approval from Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet.

The state closed the facility in June 2011 after a century-long cycle of scandal and short-lived reform. The school, 60 miles west of Tallahassee, was founded in 1900 and was once the largest of its kind in the nation. It has been known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. Over the years, kids were locked in irons, beaten with a leather strap in a building called the White House, locked in isolation for as long as three weeks and hog-tied. The school has been subject to lawsuits and scrutiny, but no one has been able to answer the questions about the cemetery, which is now surrounded by pines on an abandoned part of campus.

In October 2008, five former wards went public with stories of extreme physical and sexual abuse at the hands of guards, and some recalled stories of their fellow wards disappearing. The state launched an investigation into the allegations, and into the small cemetery, but investigators felt ground penetrating radar wouldn't be helpful because of the heavy woods in the area.

However, USF cleared woods surrounding the marked cemetery and found more burials among the trees. In one case, a tree was growing atop a burial.

More than 500 men have come forward with similar stories of being abused by staff at the school, according to a lawyer with Masterson & Hoag, the St. Petersburg firm representing the men.

USF researchers unearthed 55 bodies from Dozier, more than state claimed 01/28/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 10:06am]

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ABC NEWS WFTV CHANNEL 9 ORLANDO
Researchers say 55 bodies exhumed so far at Dozier School for Boys
Posted: 3:21 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014



TAMPA, Fla. — Forensic researchers said on Tuesday that they have exhumed 55 bodies buried at the former Dozier School for Boys. It's a finding that has implications across Florida.
 
The now-closed reform school in Marianna has been hit with allegations of physical and sexual abuse and murder.
 
Researchers said the three-month dig turned up five more bodies than expected and 24 more than documented in state records.
 
The announcement came out of the University of South Florida.

Head researcher Dr. Erin Kimmerle said her group is continuing the painstaking work of identifying the remains.

"Our mission went exceptionally well," said Kimmerle.
 
Many of the remains unearthed from September through December, were those of juveniles.
"Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” Kimmerle said.  "At this time, we know very little about the burials and the children in terms of who specifically was buried there, their ages or ancestry, as well as the timing and circumstances of their deaths."

This massive effort to find answers began in early 2012 when excavation was given the OK and funded by the state legislature.
 
The state closed the Dozier School in 2011 after a century-long scandal.                                                                                        Hundreds of surviving students have expressed allegations of brutal abuse both physical and sexual. 
 
"This is why excavation is necessary. The only way to find the facts is to follow a scientific process," said Kimmerle.

Now 65 years old, former student James Denyke, of Oviedo, is on a quest to expose the truth about what he said was decades of brutality at the now-closed state-run school. "It's part of life. It's everyday life. I've lived it since 1965," said Denyke. "Physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse."  Denyke was sent to the school when he was 15, and he said the memories refuse to escape him.

"We feel like we know the answer why, we just hope we get closure," said Ovell Krell, a family member of another of the alleged victims.
 
There are dozens of unidentified remains and investigators are asking potential family members to come forward and submit DNA samples in an effort to make a positive match.

"The team recovered bones, teeth, and numerous artifacts in every one of the 55 burials," said Kimmerle.
 
The research team plans to resume work on the school property in the next few months, since it's believed there are even more bodies buried there.
 
No allegations of abuse have ever been proven, but family members hope this changes that.
The school operated for more than 100 years.

RAW VIDEO FEED FOUND ON WFTV ABC 9 
Raw:  Remains found during excavation at Dozier School for Boys



RAW VIDEO FEED FOUND ON WFTV ABC 9 
Raw:  Interview about Dozier site excavation with Erin Kimmerle, USF Foresnsic Anthropologist



NBC2 NEWS FT MEYERS, FL

Dozens of remains unearthed at Dozier School site
Posted: Jan 28, 2014 6:33 PM EST
Updated: Jan 28, 2014 6:52 PM EST
By George Solis, Reporter - email



CAPE CORAL, FL -
For decades, survivors of the Dozier School for Boys described the school as unimaginable horror. State and federal investigators repeatedly looked into claims of brutality and child abuse during its 100-year history.

Today, disturbing developments came to light as researchers say they've found 55 buried bodies.

For Cape Coral's Jerry Cooper this is vindication. Cooper is a surviving member of a group of men who call themselves the "White House Boys," named after a place on the school grounds the men claim savage, often deadly beatings took place.

Stories that for years went ignored -- until now.

"I've always suspected foul play went on the school," Cooper said.

Teams of scientists led by University of South Florida researchers are digging up a dark history at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. Their hope? To uncover something Cooper claims he knew all along.

"There was too many things that were happening that were wrong, evil; should not have been occurring," Cooper said.

The school and its staff grew to get a reputation for beatings, rape, even murder. Many of which took place at one of Dozier's most infamous sites.

"Hopefully USF will uncover the things we've said all along, that we got dead boys up there and we got a lot of them," Cooper said.

Today, USF researches announced they've found the remains of 55 boys who died at the school. That is 24 more than the official records show.

"We approach this very much as a collective history. It's part of all our history in Florida and so we want help bring the facts to light, and help contextualize it and make sense of it," said USF Forensic Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle.

So do authorities. They are hoping DNA testing will bring closure for families still seeking answers.

For Cooper it's about that and so much more.

"How much proof do you need to show that we are saying it right, we know we're right? Why can't they give us an apology? Is that asking too much from the state of Florida?" Coopers said.

Another dig at the school is scheduled next month.

The Global Dispatch

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

Published On: Tue, Jan 28th, 2014

Hometown News / Science / Science & Technology | By Brandon Jones 
  
USF anthropologists say they have discovered the remains of 55 people buried at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

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

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

More research is yet come.

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

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

The team recovered bones, teeth and numerous artifacts in every one of the 55 burials. The excavation work was conduced from September through December;

Researchers will continue to search for additional unmarked burials on the school grounds, both in the areas adjacent to the Boot Hill graveyard and other areas of the school grounds. Over the next few months, fieldwork will resume, including additional excavations, ground-penetrating radar and the use of specially-trained K9 teams to locate burials;

Analysis of the excavated remains is underway. Through this process, a summary report will be written for each body, including all of the information learned from skeletal and dental remains, artifacts and burial context. Bone and tooth samples will be submitted to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for DNA testing;

Researchers will continue to work with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to locate possible next of kin to collect reference samples for identification. So far, 11 surviving families of former Dozier students have been located and the sheriff’s office is in the process of collecting DNA samples. Researchers still hope to collect DNA from 42 more families. Anyone with information is asked to contact Hillsborough Sheriff’s Master Detective Greg Thomas at (813) 247-8678.

photo: USF Dozier Research video screenshot

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LOTS OF NEWS
 ABOUT FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS / EXHUMATION OF DOZIER GRAVES - USF ANTHROPOLOGISTS HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE JANUARY 28, 2014.  READ THE TAMPA BAY TIMES ARTICLE BELOW, OR CLICK HEREFOR ALL THE RECENT  NEWS!


USF researchers unearthed 55 bodies from Dozier, more than state claimed

TAMPA — Researchers from the University of South Florida said this morning they have exhumed the remains of 55 boys who died at a scandalized state-run reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

That's 24 more than the 31 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a cursory investigation in 2009 on orders from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. FDLE relied on incomplete school records and did not use ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery.

The number even exceeds USF's earlier prediction of 49, which was based on ground-penetrating radar.

Among the unidentified remains — many of which appear to have been buried unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths — anthropologists found artifacts they hope to date and compare to school records to help determine the identities of the boys buried.

They found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, shirt buttons, bottles of embalming fluid and a child's marble. They hope DNA from the families of those known to have died at the school will also shed light on the identities of the remains. USF has collected DNA from about a dozen families and hope to track down more relatives of the dead.

The team, led by USF associate professor Erin Kimmerle, who has called the project a "humanitarian effort," began work in early 2012. Excavation, which is tedious, didn't begin until August, after the university cleared several political hurdles and won approval from Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet.

The state closed the facility in June 2011 after a century-long cycle of scandal and short-lived reform. The school, 60 miles west of Tallahassee, was founded in 1900 and was once the largest of its kind in the nation. It has been known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. Over the years, kids were locked in irons, beaten with a leather strap in a building called the White House, locked in isolation for as long as three weeks and hog-tied. The school has been subject to lawsuits and scrutiny, but no one has been able to answer the questions about the cemetery, which is now surrounded by pines on an abandoned part of campus.

In October 2008, five former wards went public with stories of extreme physical and sexual abuse at the hands of guards, and some recalled stories of their fellow wards disappearing. The state launched an investigation into the allegations, and into the small cemetery, but investigators felt ground penetrating radar wouldn't be helpful because of the heavy woods in the area.

However, USF cleared woods surrounding the marked cemetery and found more burials among the trees. In one case, a tree was growing atop a burial.

More than 500 men have come forward with similar stories of being abused by staff at the school, according to a lawyer with Masterson & Hoag, the St. Petersburg firm representing the men. 

USF researchers unearthed 55 bodies from Dozier, more than state claimed 01/28/14[Last modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 10:55am]

*To read this story WITH photos, click HERE

    ----------------------------------------------
Read the following comment from Michael (Chin) Tucker from our Guestbook:

1-16-14
I have watched, along with myself, men stand and cry when talking about what happened to them at the boy's school. I realized one day that it is not the adult but that same child who keeps going back and feeling the pain and shame. I have spent most of my life trying to heal that child. Still working on it ! I have watched wonders happen at our reunions. That child you bring with you has a voice that is heard and believed there. I encourage all the W.H. brothers to keep coming. W.H.B. Brother

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE YOUR OWN  COMMENT OR READ OTHER'S GUESTBOOK COMMENTS HERE

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  HERE and  HERE

Authorities Looking Into Claims Of Torture And Abuse At Okeechobee Florida School For Boys
Story by Al Pefley / CBS 12 NEWS W Palm Beach



OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - Allegations are surfacing that boys were beaten, possibly even killed at a local school for boys decades ago.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office is investigating claims of abuse and torture that occurred in the late 1950's and 1960's at the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee.

The school is now called the Okeechobee Youth Development Center, 7200 Hwy 441 North, in Okeechobee.

One man who was there when he was 13-years-old, says he could see the silhouettes of the guards beating boys in the library at night and he heard the  boys screaming.

“Man it was awful. You could hear 'em scream.  Everybody was terrified, every kid there was terrified. Is it my turn tonight, am I gonna be next?”  said Mike Sapp of Ft. Pierce.

Sapp says at least  four boys vanished and he believes guards may have killed them and buried their bodies on the school grounds.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff's office says if they could find boys'  bodies,  then it might be possible to bring criminal charges, if any of the guards are still alive.

“People died. They gotta be buried somewhere,”  Sapp explained.


Sapp is glad an investigation is being done and he hopes now the truth will finally come out.
BBC NEWS

Dozier dig seeks identity of Florida dead boys

16 April 2014 






The burial ground at the Dozier School in Marianna Florida had long since grown over when Erin Kimmerle of the University of South Florida and her team sought to exhume the boys buried there. 


The administrators at the state-run reform school kept no master records of who was buried there, and families looking to pay respects to their loved ones were not directed to a specific burial plot. 


Kimmerle, an expert in restorative justice, wanted to give closure to families who had suffered the death of a relative at the Dozier school. 


So far, they have exhumed the remains of 55 bodies. Now, her team and colleagues at the University of North Texas Health Science Center are trying to identify these boys, determine the cause of death and make sure they receive a proper burial. 


The BBC's Kate Dailey travelled to Marianna, Florida, site of the Dozier school, to speak with Kimmerle and witness the impact of the dig on former students, family members and members of the local community. 


Filmed and edited by Pete Murtaugh.

BBC NEWS MAGAZINE

Who are the 55 bodies buried at the Dozier school?

VIDEO: Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle wants justice for the children who died at the Dozier school

Forensic anthropologists are disinterring the remains of children at a Florida reform school. Former students hope the dig will provide answers about alleged child abuse within the school's walls.

Within the past year, anthropologists working for the University of South Florida (USF) have exhumed the remains of 55 children on the grounds of the now-shuttered Arthur G Dozier School for Boys.

The boys were buried in simple coffins in the Boot Hill cemetery section of the school. The remains were recovered along with items like belt buckles, buttons, and in one case, a marble.

From 1900-2011, the Dozier School in Marianna, Florida, was a state-run reform school for boys who found themselves in trouble - whether stealing cars, skipping school, or in the case of some children as young as one, needing an orphanage when none was available.

Young boys with administrators. Courtesty of State Archives of Florida/Florida Memory_Image DSB0310 Children at the School for Boys pose with administrators in this photo from the 1950s

In the past decade, hundreds of men have come forward alleging abuse and neglect on the part of the school - specifically, horrible beatings given out at a small white building on campus.

"There was blood on the walls, blood on the mattress I was on, blood on the pillow," says Alan Sexton of his time in the building the boys called the White House.

"It smelled to high heaven. They turned on a great big industrial fan to keep people from passing by to hear the screams."

Sexton was a student at the Dozier School in 1957. He was only taken to the White House once, and given 37 licks for making unapproved phone calls. But other men, like Jerry Cooper, the president of an advocacy group called White House Boys, reportly received over 100 lashes

It was the stories told by the White House Boys, who mainly attended the school during the 1950s and 1960s, that drew attention to Dozier and helped attract Erin Kimmerle, a USF forensic anthropologist, to the site.

Specifically, she was drawn to the stories of family members desperate to locate their loved ones' remains.

A facial recognition image created by the University of South Florida. The boy is between 10 and 12 years old.

Most of the records of deaths at the school did not list a cause. Boys died in a fire and a flu epidemic, and sometimes the poor and poorly educated parents were told that their sons died in accidents or in fights.

Often, the remains were sent home to be buried with families. But sometimes, families were notified of a relative's death and told that the body had been interred at the school. When they went to visit, the school did not provide the exact location of the plots nor give details about the deaths.

According to Kimmerle, the school did not keep a master list for the burial ground. There was no policy for its upkeep and care.

Erin Kimmerle examines an object in the field Erin Kimmerle examines an object in the field

"It's their desire to have the remains back to bury them next to their parents," says Kimmerle of the surviving relatives. "It wasn't something that was an option in the past when the deaths occurred. We feel it's very important to support them in that effort."

Using archaeological field methods, Kimmerle and her team estimated that about 50 students would be buried at the site - an increase from the 31 estimated by the state in 2009.

"In terms of that initial work, we were close," she says.

"Who they are specifically and what happened to them, we just don't know that."

The USF investigation is focused on finding those who had family members buried at Dozier so they can collect DNA and try to match remains, a task done in collaboration with the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center.

Abandoned building The school closed in 2011. Some buildings are maintained by the state, but others have fallen into disrepair

To this end, they have put out a list of known boys buried in the cemetery. So far, they have been able to track down relatives of 18 of these boys. This week, they released a composite sketch based on the skull of one of the bodies they recovered, to put a human face on their efforts, Kimmerle says.

In 2010 a state investigation into the school found "no tangible physical evidence" to "either support or refute allegations of physical or sexual abuse" during the White House boys era.

The following year, the government shut down the Dozier school, citing economic factors. Around the same time, the US Department of Justice released a report which says it found "harmful practices... that threatened the safety and wellbeing of youth" at Dozier and another reform school in Jacksonville, Florida.

Before the property could be sold, Kimmerle and her team won the right to excavate the grounds. She has until next August to search the ground relying on radar, dogs, old maps, and the testimony of former students.

Boys work repairing shoes A 1958 guide to the school showed children working jobs, playing sports and taking classes

Thus far no bodies have been discovered outside the loose bounds of the Boot Hill burial ground.

But Cooper, president of the White House Boys, says that the 55 bodies already found "are just the tip of the iceberg".

He believes the excavation at Dozier may be one of the last chances to prove the allegations they have been making for years.

When the BBC visited the site in February, crews were excavating the ground behind the White House but had found no remains.

Still, says Kimmerle, it is too early to rule out foul play in regards to any of the 55 sets of remains recovered. She also notes that their investigation indicates that the children who died in the fire were locked in their rooms with no means of escape, while those who died in the flu epidemic were abandoned by the staff without food or medicine.

Dogs and their handlers Canine recovery teams search the woods on the Dozier campus

No matter what else is found, the excavation and the continued attention brought to Dozier means that the story of what happened to Cooper and the other boys remains in the headlines and the story of life at the Dozier school continues to spread.

"I want it out there what happened to us," says Cooper, who has spent years advocating for the White House Boys. It was largely thanks to his organisation, along with dedicated reporting from the St Petersburg Times, that the story remained in the public eye.

"Don't feel sorry for us," he says.

"Feel proud that we brought it out into the open."

Early lab work suggests existence of undiscovered Dozier cemetery

Researchers have so far analyzed 12 of the 55 sets of remains unearthed at the former Dozier School for Boys, developing biological profiles and establishing theories about date of burial, age and race. They've received DNA analysis from the University of North Texas Health Science Center on five of the bodies, but have not yet identified any of the boys.

The first seven remains from which the scientists were able to determine race are all African-American. Though it's too early to tell, the revelation lends weight to the theory that there were two cemeteries on the Panhandle campus — one for blacks, one for whites — and the 55 remains exhumed from the same area could all be black children, said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was updated on the research on Tuesday.

"I want Dr. (Erin) Kimmerle to get to the bottom of this," Nelson said, pledging to get USF the time and money it needs to finish the project.



The researchers' goal is to identify all the remains and attempt to determine cause of death before reburying them, either in family plots or some agreeable location. The work is tedious because the remains are in poor condition. Some were found buried under or near mature trees whose roots grew through the bones, leaving them in thousands of tiny fragments.

"It's a very slow process," said Kimmerle, an associate professor of anthropology who is leading the work, "but it's thorough and it lets us get all the information that's possible."

USF was able to reconstruct a child's skull from fragments and superimpose the facial approximation of a boy 10 to 12 years old. The composite was "an effort to put a face on him, to humanize him," Kimmerle said.

The team is about halfway through analyzing thousands of burial artifacts — from coffin nails and funeral hardware to bottles of embalming fluid and coins found over one boy's eyes. Researchers found a marble in what would have been one boy's pocket.

The project started several years ago, after a group of old men went public with stories of being brutalized at the school and of classmates who disappeared. A state investigation in 2009 determined 31 boys were buried on campus, matching exactly the number of crude pipe crosses planted in a clearing in the pines. Using ground penetrating radar first, then excavation, USF found nearly twice as many remains as the state. And it plans to continue to search for a second cemetery in May and June. Researchers, teamed with detectives from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, have used ground penetrating radar on about five acres of the massive 1,400-acre campus.

The school — called the Florida School for Boys and the Florida Industrial School — opened in 1900 and has routinely been subject to media scrutiny. Nearly 100 boys are reported to have died in custody or while trying to run away.

Wrote the Tampa Tribune back in 1918: "The reformatory is the skeleton in the closet for the Floridian, the dark dirty secret of which he is most ashamed and regarding which, it is now to be hoped, he will demand a thorough cleansing."

It finally closed in 2011 amid more controversy and a critical Department of Justice report, but Nelson is still looking for that cleansing.

"We owe it to the families," he said, "to get to the bottom of this."

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

TAMPA BAY TIMES
by Ben Montgomery
03:56 PM, Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Florida State football star shaped winning team at Florida School for Boys




In February 1961, Vic Prinzi pulled into the visitors' lot at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna and sat in the car collecting his thoughts. He was apprehensive.

"Why am I here?" he wondered.

He could still turn around, head back to Tallahassee and send word that he had changed his mind. Prinzi was 25 and self-confident.

His years as Florida State's quarterback would eventually land him in the school's hall of fame.

He'd played with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, but got cut, and so he came back to Florida.

A friend told him about the opening at the state's oldest reform school. With more than 800 boys between 7 and 18, it had grown to one of the largest homes for troubled kids in the country.

The job seemed custom-made for Prinzi, who earned a degree in juvenile delinquency with a focus on criminal psychology. But his anxiety about working with young criminals, teaching them athletics no less, had sneaked up on him.

He introduced himself to the school's superintendent, David Walters, who gave Prinzi a nickel tour. The 1,400-acre campus was stunning. Stately cottages sat upon rolling green hills covered in tall pines.

Walters introduced Prinzi to his assistant superintendent, a stout man with a sandy crew cut. The two administrators told Prinzi the school operated on a ranking system based on behavior: Grub, Explorer, Pioneer, Pilot and Ace. Aces got privileges, but Grubs faced strict discipline, including solitary confinement.

"We're going to rehab these kids if it breaks every bone in their bodies," the assistant superintendent told Prinzi.

The men told Prinzi that they'd had trouble lately with a rash of runaways. When one of the boys escaped, the men on campus had to track him down in the swamps and woods surrounding the school. Occasionally the administration called on the help of prisoners from nearby Apalachee Correctional Institution.

Prinzi was not impressed by the school staff; he got the sense that they were there just to collect a paycheck. He was dismayed, too, when he saw a pack of boys loafing across campus. They had duck's ass haircuts and wore sloppy state clothes: wrinkled white shirts, blue jeans and scuffed Brogan boots.

"This is what I'm going to have to make a football team out of?" he wondered.
 
The next eight months would be the most profound of Vic Prinzi's busy and celebrated life. The experience made such an impression that two decades later his wife Barbara persuaded him to put his story on paper. He worked with two freelance writers, Rosemary Imregi and Jane Ruberg. Prinzi recorded himself telling the story and sent the writers hours of audio recordings. They produced a manuscript that never sold, never became a book. The yellowing pages have been on a shelf in Barbara Prinzi's Michigan home for 20 years, until she saw a story about the Florida School for Boys in the Tampa Bay Times and mailed the manuscript to me. Later, the writers let me listen to the audiocassettes.

Many of the boys who were imprisoned at the school have testified about the abuse they endured, but few former staffers have come forward, which makes Prinzi's detailed account an important contribution to the public record.

The manuscript uses pseudonyms in some cases. For example, Prinzi refers to the assistant superintendent as John McWilliams. There is no John McWilliams in public records, but Lennox Williams, who fits Prinzi's physical description, was guidance counselor at the time and his career moves match those Prinzi describes. Most of Prinzi's story is verified by newspaper clippings, school records at the State Archives and the memories of his former players.
 
The football program at FSB had been mediocre for as long as anyone could remember. Boys usually stayed at the school less than a year, so there was no consistency. The kids on campus also tended to be younger than the juniors and seniors they'd face at the Panhandle's public high schools.

The Yellow Jacket squad from the year before had magically found a way to win, but every player in the starting lineup had left the program. Prinzi knew he'd have to build a team from scratch.

Prinzi soon learned that the best athletes on campus didn't play sports. They preferred to serve their time slacking off and laying low.

Prinzi knew how a little coaching could change a boy's life. He had grown up in Waverly, N.Y., the son of Italian immigrants, during World War II. He wasn't popular in a place where most families were Irish and English. He turned to petty crime to fit in until his father gave him an ultimatum: Use your brain and be successful, or follow your friends to jail. Prinzi threw himself into sports and won a football scholarship at Florida State.

"How come they can't get a football team here?" Prinzi asked his assistant coach.

"Most of the kids here just don't have no interest," the coach replied. "If they had any interest, they wouldn't be here."
 
The kids were a mess. On the first day of physical education, three-quarters of them sat around in the shade while the rest played softball.

Prinzi asked his assistant coach if he could identify the best athlete on campus. "There's one kid on this campus that is the kid," the assistant said. "He basically runs this place."

Harley Woods.

He was 16, nearly 6 feet tall and 190 pounds. Woods was a boxer from Jacksonville, the coach said, tough and built like a tree, and most of the kids on campus were afraid of him. This was his second stint at the Florida School for Boys. He was in for armed robbery, the coach said. But Woods never participated in organized sports.

Prinzi knew what he needed to do.

Prinzi issued an order the next day. Every kid who came to gym would wear shorts. No jeans. And every kid had to participate. Prinzi wanted to evaluate their talent and he couldn't do it if they were sitting around.

As the younger boys grumbled about the new rules, Prinzi approached Woods, who was sitting under a tree.

"Woods?" he said.

"Yeah," the kid said, still sitting.

"When I walk up to you I expect you to stand up."

He stayed seated.

"Get your ass up so I can talk to you."

He snorted, but stood.

"My name is Coach Prinzi."

"I know who you are," Woods said.

"You're one of my fans, are you?" said Prinzi.

"I'm not one of your fans, but I know all about you."

"Really? What the hell can you tell me about me?"

"I know that you played professional football," Woods said. "Number two: I know that you just recently divorced. Three: I know that you can't get a job. That's why you came here."

"How the hell did you find that out?" Prinzi asked.

"Coach, there ain't nothing on this campus that I don't know about."

Prinzi made a mental note to tell the superintendent to lock his file cabinet.

"I was wondering if you might be interested in transferring to my crew," Prinzi said, referring to a group that cleaned lockers and ran errands for the athletic department.

"Go f--- yourself," Woods said.

"Son, don't you ever swear to me again," Prinzi said. "If you do, I'll make life as miserable as you've ever had it."

"What can you do to me that hasn't already been done?" Woods said. "I've been s--- on a thousand times in my life. You're just one more a------ that's going to do it."

He was angry. Prinzi just had to figure out why.

"You ever play football?"

"No, but I've thought about it."

"You're a pretty good-sized kid," Prinzi said. "I figured you'd be playing football."

"I have too many other important things to do."

Prinzi started to walk away.

"If you ever change your mind," he said, "let me know."

Woods wore shorts to the next gym class. It was a small victory.

Prinzi led the jog to the field, and he smiled at all the moaning. He figured that the only time some of them had run was with the cops behind them.

During the drills, Prinzi homed in on Harley Woods. He called Woods to the front of the group. They got into pushup position and Prinzi challenged the boy: "Who do you think will fall first?"

Ten minutes passed, then 15. After about 20 minutes, as Prinzi neared his physical limit, Woods' arms gave way. Prinzi jumped up.

"We're not through yet," he said.

He dropped down and started doing pushups.

"Harley, do it with me," he said. "We're going to do 50."

The boy collapsed at 39.

They raced the shuttle run and the 40-yard dash. As they jogged back to the locker room, Prinzi said: "Beat you at everything today, didn't I?"

"There's tomorrow," Woods replied.

 Prinzi pulled some strings to get a look at Woods' file in the guidance counselor's office.

The boy had been abandoned by his father at 7. His mother was an alcoholic. He had spent time in juvenile homes in Jacksonville. Every adult who had entered Woods' life had abandoned him. He wasn't a bad kid underneath, he simply had trust issues.

Prinzi noticed the boy was scheduled for treatment from the school's new psychiatrist. The coach had met Dr. Louis Souza, also known as the "soup doctor," and Prinzi felt there was something suspect about the Uruguayan shrink who had trained in Vienna. He had arrived at FSB in 1961 and promptly begun experimenting on the boys with sound wave therapy. He was also feeding them a mysterious cocktail he called "Souza Soup," which made the boys lethargic.

Prinzi didn't want his best prospect anywhere near Dr. Souza.

When spring football practice rolled around, more boys came out for the team than Prinzi expected. And the kids began to coalesce. Some of the kids even started coming by Prinzi's office to talk.

Woods wasn't committed yet, but Prinzi felt like he was coming around. At least he was getting into great shape. Meanwhile, Prinzi kept working on Woods' head. He resisted at first, but Prinzi talked to him about his past.

"There's a lot of good people out there," he told the boy. "All you've got to do is present yourself to them, put faith in them, and they'll put faith in you."

Prinzi began to notice a change, but it was going to be tough.

"I think there's something in you, my boy," he said. "The only problem is, you're the one who's got to let it out."

 Late one night, Prinzi got a call that a boy had escaped. He reported to the assembly point on campus, where men were gathered beside their state cars. The assistant superintendent was there, too, barking orders like Gen. Patton. Prinzi noticed a gun strapped to his side.

"What the hell do you got the gun for?" Prinzi asked.

"Mr. Prinzi," he replied, "you can't trust these damn kids. I'm not going to get my life wasted by one of these little bastards. He puts me in a corner and I'll use this g-- d--- thing."

The runaway was 11 years old. 

Woods wasn't among the 43 boys who signed up to play baseball. Prinzi asked the assistant coach why Woods didn't show. The coach said Woods was starting to withdraw.

Word reached Prinzi one day that Woods had tried to run. Tried. As Prinzi approached the door of the infirmary, he knew he had to rein in his rage if he wanted Woods to respond.

He found the doctor treating Woods. One eye was black and blue and swollen shut. It looked like the boy's nose was broken. He had stitches in his forehead.

"Look at this, Vic," the doctor said. "They shouldn't let those inmates from Apalachee go after these kids."

Prinzi asked the doctor to give him a minute.

"You're not near as tough as I thought you were," he told the boy. "You do the first thing you always do. You turn into a coward. You run. You don't have the guts to sit there and face what you have in front of you and resolve it.

"If you can't handle this, you might as well keep running. Because you're going to be running the rest of your life."

Prinzi turned and started for the door.

"Coach," Woods said. "How about giving me a chance?"
 
When Woods showed up to work in the athletic department with his shoes shined and his shirt ironed and his hair trimmed in a crew cut, Prinzi knew the boy was different. Soon enough, all the kids were as polished as Woods. And lots of them were now sporting crew cuts.

Prinzi told the boy he needed help putting together a football team, so Woods recruited his friends. He got a guy who could throw the ball 50 yards. He found another who would be a solid linebacker. Prinzi ordered some old game films from Florida State and showed the boys how the Seminoles ran the I formation. He taught them about stances and how to take a handoff. He acquired sharp new uniforms — gold pants with green jerseys and white pinstripe on the green helmets.

The boys were having fun. They asked to have two practices a day on the weekends. They had a purpose.

Prinzi began having deeper conversations with Woods as well. They talked about hard work, about life outside confinement.

"If you set goals," Prinzi told him, "you might not see this place ever again."
 
As the season approached, Prinzi's players kept disappearing.

First was a good defensive end, a 16-year-old who loved to tackle. He was sent for treatment by Dr. Souza, the "soup doctor." Prinzi saw the boy again a few months later. His face was swollen. His chiseled physique was gone and he had a paunch. He looked like a zombie.

Then the Yellow Jackets' quarterback didn't show up for practice. When he missed a second day, Prinzi started asking about him.

"Look, sometimes kids just don't show up for class," one of the boy's teachers told Prinzi.

Prinzi asked Woods. The boy was hesitant to talk. When a boy is caught running away, Woods finally said, he's taken to a small shack where he's beaten.

Prinzi found his assistant coach in the gym and the two walked across campus to a building the boys called the White House. As they approached, they heard something inside.

Prinzi flung the door open. He was hit by a putrid smell, like sweat and urine and rotting wood, and he almost gagged. In the dark, Prinzi saw his quarterback sprawled and tied face-down on a cot. Beside him, raising a thick leather strap, was the assistant superintendent. He appeared to be having an orgasm.

Prinzi tackled the older man and pressed the strap against his neck.

"So this is how you get your jollies?" he said. "If I hear of you ever touching any of these boys again, you better make sure you have a good lawyer, because I'll make it my life's mission to make sure you lose everything."

He threw the man out the door, into the sunlight. "You haven't heard the end of this," Prinzi said.

They helped the beaten boy to the infirmary, and Prinzi stormed toward the superintendent's office.

"You've got to stop this," Prinzi said. "There has to be a better way of dealing with these kids."

Beatings were nothing new.

In 1958, a psychologist who had worked at Marianna testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency that he witnessed mass beatings at the school. He called it "brutality," and his claims made quick headlines.

But Gov. LeRoy Collins defended superintendent Arthur G. Dozier, saying he had full confidence that the staff wasn't "brutal."

Prinzi felt that David Walters, who had replaced Dozier, took his allegations seriously. Walters told Prinzi that the assistant superintendent was demoted and moved to the north side of campus, where the black and Latino students lived.
 
The team's first three games were away. Prinzi knew the boys wouldn't feel proud of themselves if they had to travel in state-issued clothes. He'd been flirting with a waitress in Marianna, and he casually mentioned that he wanted to find a way to outfit the boys so they wouldn't look like criminals.

The young lady started a grass roots campaign to come up with enough ties and jackets. Before they boarded the bus on Sept. 14, 1961, to play Baker High School, Vic Prinzi faced a mirror and taught a group of boys how to tie a necktie.
 
The stadium at Baker was packed with a thousand fans. The opposing players dwarfed the boys from FSB. Prinzi had no idea what he was going to tell his young men before the game. Back in the locker room, he went with his gut.

Today is the culmination of your hard work, he told them. Today, all that sacrifice and pain is going to unfold on the playing field.

"Show those fans that we can knock people down and help them back up," he said. "Keep digging deeper inside you. Don't let fatigue make you a coward."

The farm boys from Baker were ready to play. A giant rainstorm moved over the field in the first half and the defenses held firm. In the third quarter, Harley Woods took a handoff 75 yards for a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets tacked on the extra point to go up 7-0. Baker scored as time ticked down but missed the extra point.

The boys were overjoyed on the ride back to Marianna. Woods cried. The team was the talk of the campus the next day.

Baker's coach wrote to Prinzi.

"My ballplayers had nothing but praise for your boys and their sportsmanship and fair play, and I feel the same way. Please congratulate your boys for us."

Back on campus, a letter waited from the Department of the Army. Prinzi had served six months in the Reserves. Now Uncle Sam was calling him up as President Kennedy reacted to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"Let's keep this under our hat," Prinzi told his assistant coach.
 
The Yellow Jackets crushed powerhouse Chattahoochee, 20-0. The next game, against Sopchoppy, was brutal. The fans called the boys criminals, lowlifes. Prinzi complained that four touchdowns were called back in the first half.

"You'll have to face these things your entire lives," Prinzi told the team at halftime. "People who aren't as good as you are going to try to drag you down."

The boys fought hard, but Sopchoppy went up 6-0 and FSB couldn't recover.

After the game, Prinzi broke the news he was leaving. The boys hung their heads. They knew what was going on in Cuba. They understood. It didn't dull the pain.

Prinzi took Woods off campus that night.

I want you to know something," the coach told the boy. "I'll always be with you. Not physically, but mentally. . . . And you'll either honor me or not honor me by whether you fold or by whether you succeed. It's your life."

They drove back in silence. 

They beat Crawfordville, lost to Apalachicola, then beat Altha. No matter the scores, Harley Woods had begun to take on a leadership role. He was a force.

Prinzi had grown attached to Woods, to the kids. He felt like he was going to miss them more than they would miss him.

The morning after the win at Altha, Prinzi loaded his car and drove to Woods' cottage. He asked the supervisor to send the boy outside.

"I'm going to miss you, coach," Woods said. "But I remember what you said the other night, that you'll always be with me.

"I love you," the boy said.

Prinzi was still.

"I love you, too," he said. "I'll never forget you as long as I live."

 Barbara met Vic Prinzi in 1965, when he was coaching at the University of Tampa, at a party on Bayshore Boulevard. She can't remember when he first told her the story of his time at the Florida School for Boys, but she's certain it was soon after they met.

"It was so emblazoned in his mind and his heart," she said.

What stayed with Prinzi was that those boys weren't bad kids. They just didn't have the same breaks that he had.

A lot has happened since Prinzi was on campus. In 2008, five men stepped forward to tell of being abused in the White House. Since word spread, more than 450 men have alleged they were abused, and a team of anthropologists has set out to determine how many boys are buried in a clandestine cemetery on the campus, and how they died.

Lennox Williams, after working several years on the black side of campus, was hired as superintendent over the entire school. Many men have alleged that Williams abused them. In 1968, when state officials in Tallahassee were trying to outlaw corporal punishment, Williams was fired for refusing to comply. He appealed his firing, the town of Marianna publicly supported him, and he was later reinstated.

Before Williams' death, he was interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about the claims of abuse. He denies that he participated in brutal spankings.

Prinzi never returned to the school in Marianna. He became the voice of Florida State football, doing color commentary for 17 years and starring in pregame segments called Great Moments in Seminoles History with his lifelong friend Burt Reynolds. He died in 1998.

Prinzi's wife says he didn't know how many boys would come out of the school with tales of beatings.

"If he had known the extent to which it was going on," she said, "he would have put a stop to it."

The boys who played on that Yellow Jackets team still hold Vic Prinzi in high regard.

"You could tell he cared about the kids," said former linebacker Kermit Whitaker, 67, of Bartow. "He was a great role model for a lot of us. All the kids respected him."

"I learned a lot out there," said Roy Conerly of Summerfield, who played lineman. "Like him teaching us about our neatness and stuff like that. To this day, I still tie a tie because of him. Nobody else ever taught me that."

"He was a good coach. He cared about us guys," said Nevelin Jetton, 68, of Stanley, N.C. "He helped build my confidence and self-esteem. I never got no praise, no love, no anything. And here was someone who cared about me."

He began to cry.

Jerry Cooper of Cape Coral played quarterback for the team. Cooper remembers getting 135 lashes in the White House. In 2009, he paid for a lie detector test, which I witnessed, to prove he was telling the truth. Cooper hasn't always thought that Vic Prinzi had his best interest in mind, but he believes he was the only quarterback taken to the White House. When he heard Prinzi's account of finding his player being beaten, Cooper wasn't sure what to think.

"If Vic intervened, then he probably saved my life," Cooper said. "As bad as I was injured from that beating, I really thought I would not survive the night. Vic stood for a lot more than I thought at the time. I wish I could tell him so."

All the men wondered what became of Harley Woods.

 The last public record available for Woods is a Florida business registration from the 1980s. After a few phone calls, I found the widow of his business partner.

"We only got to know him for eight or nine months," said Barbara Williams. "He wanted to have a rodeo, and we wanted to help him with it. Then that accident …"

She, too, began to cry.

She tracked down an article from the Jacksonville newspaper from April 1987: "Two Killed, One Hurt As Pole Hits Power Line."

She had trouble reading the story. Woods started a business with her husband and had been working for weeks to prepare for his second rodeo. The first, in Tifton, Ga., had been rained out, and he'd lost all his money. He had to do all the odd jobs himself for the second.

The newspaper called him "Haulie Woods" and described him as a former boxer and used car salesman. It said he felt it wouldn't be appropriate to hold a rodeo without Old Glory flying.

"He wouldn't have had the rodeo without the flag," said his friend, Elmer Rudd. "It's just like he always used to say, 'The flag is what it was all about.' "

He and a partner were raising the pole when it touched a power line and sent 14,000 volts through the men, killing them.

He died raising a sign of freedom. Vic Prinzi would have approved.

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

Audio:
Before he died, Vic Prinzi recorded himself telling of his experience as a coach at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna and sent the tapes to freelance writers Rosemary Imregi and Jane Ruberg. The three worked for several years on a manuscript, called "Fire Within," but it never sold. Now, with renewed interest in abuse at the reform school, Imregi and Ruberg are doing more research and revising the manuscript with the hopes of turning it into a book. (Audio courtesy of Rosemary Imregi and Jane Ruberg)



Vic Prinzi played quarterback at Florida State University in the 50s. Vic Prinzi, star quarterback for the Florida State University Seminoles from 1954 to 1958.  In 1961, Prinzi coached at the Florida School for Boys, the reform school with an already notorious past. What Prinzi would learn about the boys, the school and the infamous White House, above, would stay with him his whole life. "Vic Prinzi, star quarterback for the Florida State University Seminoles from 1954 to 1958, was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 1988. In 1961, he coached at the Florida School for Boys reform school, an experience his wife says he never forgot. It was so emblazoned in his mind and his heart, she says. 


Jerry Cooper, who played quarterback, remembers getting 135 lashes in the White House. If Vic intervened, then he probably saved my life, Cooper says. Vic stood for a lot more than I thought at the time. I wish I could tell him so.  Credit: Edmund D. Fountain  |  Times


I learned a lot out there, says Roy Conerly, who played lineman. To this day, I still tie a tie because of him. Nobody else ever taught me that.  Credit:  Edmund D. Fountain   |   Times 


"Many men say Lennox Williams, who became superintendent, abused them. Williams denied that. Edmund D. Fountain   |   Times


Citrus County Chronicle
Floral City man recalls time spent in notorious reform school

By Chris Van Ormer
Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm
 

Anthropologists from the University of South Florida have excavated the remains of 55 boys at a former reform school in Marianna, but a Floral City resident said he expects them to find many more.

Burial sites have been exhumed on the campus of the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, where researchers from the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences say they have found the remains of 55 boys. Floral City resident Jim Blount, who as a boy of 14 was incarcerated at Dozier, said Monday many more bodies remain to be found.


“I’m not a bit surprised at their findings,” said Jim Blount, 77, on Monday. “They haven’t even scratched the surface.”

As a Sarasota youngster in 1949, Blount was sent to the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in the Florida Panhandle after he was arrested for truancy. He’d left home to ease his parents’ financial burden after his father had a stroke. The one year and 10 days he spent at Dozier left a lasting impact on the rest of his life.

“That place was highly segregated,” Blount said, explaining why the campus should contain more bodies. “Actually, all the people were Ku Klux Klan. There was a highway that ran right through the middle of it. On one side of the highway, you had all blacks. And on the other side, you had all whites.”

The boys of different races were not allowed to speak to each other, Blount said.

“Where they are digging now is on the black side,” Blount said. “Under no circumstances would they bury a black with a white. So when they finish up there and go across the highway to what’s known as the white campus, they’re going to find even more bodies. Those are the whites. I know they are there.”

Last week, USF Department of Anthropology associate professor Erin Kimmerle announced several key developments:

n The team recovered bones, teeth and numerous artifacts in every one of the 55 burials.

n Researchers will continue searching for additional unmarked burials on the school grounds, both in the areas adjacent to Boot Hill, as the area is known, and in other areas.

“Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” Kimmerle said. “It is our intention to answer as many of these questions as possible.”

As a child at Dozier, Blount said he saw evidence of many burials.

“I was on the road gang, which is just like a chain gang,” Blount said. “One day, some guy came out there in a pickup truck. We were working alongside of the road. He grabbed two or three of us and gave us a shovel and pickaxes and we got in the truck and left with him. He took us over right behind the ‘white house,’ which was the torture cell, and we were forced to dig a grave, or a grave-size hole.”

The red clay was hard to dig, but the boys succeeded. Later, Blount said he saw the hole had been covered and thought someone had been buried there.

“It was obvious what it was,” Blount said. “They took us back to the road gang and said if we ever mentioned this, somebody would be digging a hole for us.”

The “white house” was a one-story concrete-block building where boys were punished. Blount said he could see what was going on at the “white house” when he was working in the kitchen building nearby.

“I saw them back up a pickup truck to the back door and they were toting out some black kid,” Blount said. “One had him by the arms and one had him by the legs and they got him beside the truck. And the way his head and neck was back, we knew he was dead. They just threw him over the side of the truck like you would a sack of feed. We used to see stuff like that all the time.”

Boys, who lived in dormitories called cottages, would be removed in the middle of the night and never seen again, Blount said.

“You don’t dare ask where they are or you’ll be disappearing,” he said.

Blount took some severe beatings while at Dozier, but stayed silent for decades.

“My parents went to their graves not knowing about the beatings,” Blount said. “My wife didn’t know, except I’d have night terrors and wake up screaming. Finally, I told her a little bit.”

When the story broke about Dozier, Blount finally talked about it.

“I was beaten three times,” Blount said. “Once I got 20 licks. Once I got 40 licks. Those two times, I was hit with that leather strap. They would beat you from the lower back down to behind the knees. I got 20, I got 40, and then I got 60, but that was with the board. It’s about an inch thick and it has a handle where the man grips it with both hands and he puts all his weight behind it and just hit you.”

Once beaten, Blount was left to fend for himself.

“After I got up, I could feel blood running down the back of my legs. It filled up my brogans (work boots),” he said. “As I would walk back, blood would slosh out of my brogans. That was a daily thing with those people.

“I didn’t get any medical treatment,” Blount continued. “I would go back to the cottage and go into the shower and let the water run and then a friend of mine would help pull my underwear out because it was embedded.”

The former reform school inmates have given useful forensic information to the anthropologists.

“The lady that’s in charge of the dig, she wanted to know how we dressed: if we had belt buckles, what kind of shoes, did you have plastic buttons, steel buttons, copper buttons,” Blount said. “That way, when they dig somebody up and find some clothing, they can match it to what we told them so it will give them the time frame.”

Although all the remaining victims are senior citizens whose lives have been overshadowed by the horrific abuses they endured, the research project has great meaning for them.

“Every time they come up with something new, it’s a relief to me because we never told anybody,” Blount said. “When they took me down to the bus station to come back home, the last thing the man told me was: If you ever mention anything about this place to anybody we’ll come get you, we’ll bring you back and we’ll kill you. Every time something new comes up to show what happened there, I get a healing from it.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Chris Van Ormer at 352-564-2916 or cvanormer@chronicleonline.com.

WTSP.COM

USF begins new search and excavation of bodies at Dozier School for Boys
Marianna, Florida -- USF researchers have returned to the Dozier School for Boys to search for more bodies.

They're using cadaver dogs as they try to pinpoint burial sites.

The controversial state-run reform school, located in the Florida panhandle, closed in 2011 after being open for more than 100 years.

A previous excavation last year recovered 55 bodies... 24 more than official records had indicated.

Some of those who were once sent to Dozier -- now senior citizens -- have come forward with stories of abuse at the school, including alleged beatings, torture, sexual abuse, killings and the disappearance of students, during the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Before researchers began searching and exhuming graves, a small unkempt patch of land on school grounds was marked with 31 white crosses. Rusting away with time, they marked  the final resting place for the unknown students that the state has confirmed were buried there.

Nearly 100 children died while at the school, according to state and school records, many as a result of a tragic dormitory fire in 1914 and a deadly flu epidemic in 1918.

The poorly-kept state records cannot account for what happened to 22 children who died at the school. And, no one knows who is buried where.

Click here for a PDF list of families that researchers are searching for. Anyone with with information is asked to contact Hillsborough County Sheriff's Master Detective Greg Thomas at 813-247-8678.

More Stories on the Dozier School for Boys:

 

 

WCTV.TV

Researcher, Sen. Nelson, Meet On Dozier





Updated By: Julie Montanaro
April 15, 2014, 6pm

Scientists may ask for another permit to continue digging up remains at the old Dozier School for Boys.

Scientists from the University of South Florida met with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson today in Tampa.

Dr. Erin Kimmerle says it could take months to extract and analyze the DNA of the 55 bodies exhumed so far ... and they are not ruling out asking the state for permission to extend their work beyond an August deadline.

"I think eventually they're going to find another cemetery...because back then they did not bury the two races together...and so no telling what stories are going to unfold..."

Scientists also released a composite sketch that shows what a boy - whose body was exhumed at Dozier - may have looked like.

They continue to seek family members of boys who died at Dozier to try to match DNA.


Associated Press News Release

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A researcher from the University of South Florida says a team of forensic experts are using DNA, skeletal analysis and digital x-rays to identify the remains from a former Panhandle reform school.

Erin Kimmerle said Tuesday during a meeting with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that it will take months to extract and analyze the DNA from the 55 people exhumed from the graves at Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. Hillsborough County deputies are looking for relatives of the boys that were known to have been buried at the school.

Some former students have accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida 

TAMPA BAY TIMES

Nelson seeks help in Pennsylvania to exhume boy who died at Dozier 

Ben MontgomeryBen Montgomery,
Times Staff Writer  
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 3:52pm

When 15-year-old Thomas Curry was found dead in 1925, not long after he had run away from Florida's reform school in Marianna, the coroner's jury determined he "came to his death from a wound on forehead: skull crushed from an unknown cause." His body was buried in Philadelphia.

Now, a team of University of South Florida forensic anthropologists, backed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are asking the Pennsylvania state police to help them find and exhume Curry's remains for an autopsy. Nelson has asked Gov. Tom Corbett for his assistance.

"Some of these young boys died under suspicious or questionable circumstances, making it essential to also investigate the cause of their deaths," Nelson wrote.

The governor's press office was unfamiliar with the request Tuesday afternoon.

Curry had been at the Dozier School for Boys 29 days when he ran away. His body was found the next day near train tracks at River Junction in Gadsden County, about 25 miles from Marianna. Curry was one of 10 boys to die while running away between 1906 and 1952. His death was not included in the school's biennial report to the state Board of Commissioners, which oversaw the school.

The researchers have exhumed the remains of 55 bodies from a cemetery on the property — nearly double what state authorities reported in 2009 after an investigation.

Nelson seeks help in Pennsylvania to exhume boy who died at Dozier 04/01/14  [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 10:29pm]  
© 2014 Tampa Bay Times
NewsZap.com
Movie to tell story of abuse at the Florida school for boys in Okeechobee and Marianna

OKEECHOBEE — Hollywood producer Steve Lee Jones is going to see to it that the nation knows about the horrific and sadistic abuse of young boys sent to state reformatories in Okeechobee and Marianna.

Mr. Jones’ Bee Holder Productions will bring to light how young boys were beaten and sexually abused by guards and other men at the Florida schools for boys in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

In a phone interview Thursday, Feb. 20, from his Hollywood, Calif., office Mr. Jones said the movie will be “about the horrific experiences” of boys like Bryant Middleton, who was sent to the school in Marianna at the tender age of 13.

“I think it’s about time,” said Mr. Middleton, Friday, of the upcoming movie. “It’s long past due and it will let the public know what happened to us as children while we were wards of the state. I think it’s one of the best things (the movie) that’s happened to us.

Mr. Middleton said he is one of four men who have signed on as consultants for the movie. The retired U.S. Army captain and Vietnam veteran also has the dubious distinction of being a member of a group of men known as The White House Boys.

That moniker is attached to those boys who were taken to a small white concrete-block building on the Marianna campus where they beaten with thick leather straps until their backsides were bloodied and their clothes were imbedded in their wounds.

Similar beatings were conducted at the school for boys in Okeechobee, where the white boys were taken to a room dubbed The Library and black boys were taken to the ADJ (adjustment) room. In Okeechobee, guards were also reportedly fond of using “the prod” — a rod with a ball on one end that was used to sodomize the boys.

Boys 8- to 16-years of age were beaten and sodomized at both schools.

“We’ve engaged some of the most obvious choices to tell their stories because they’re willing to tell the facts the way they were without holding back, and without aggrandizement,” explained Mr. Jones.

He spoke of how people are “aghast” at the atrocities committed on people in other countries, but they have no idea of similar atrocities that were committed on these young boys. He simply described their treatment as “unbelievable.”

Mr. Jones, who was the executive producer for the award-winning HBO film “You Don’t Know Jack” which starred Al Pacino as Dr. Jack Kevorkian, said Keir Pearson has come on board for his newest project and will write the screen play.

Mr. Pearson, an Oscar-nominated screen writer, wrote the screen play for “Hotel Rwanda” and the soon-to-be-released movie about Cesar Chavez, a farm worker who co-founded the National Farm Worker’s Association.

When Mr. Jones first heard about The White House Boys about a year ago, he told folks in his office to start tracking the story.

“It’s the kind of story you don’t expect to hear taking place domestically,” he said. “We want to focus on the fact there are many members in town who were complicit in this.

“I see this (movie) as a thriller, actually,” he added.

Mr. Jones, who also produced the documentary “Kevorkian,” said no release date has been set for this movie. It’s also unknown at this point if his film will be shot locally.

“That’s a studio call,” he added.

Mr. Jones’ current project, “Bigger,” details how Joe Weider not only discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger but introduced the sport of bodybuilding to the world.

If you think you notice a common theme about Mr. Jones’ productions, you’re right. He likes to deal with what’s real and authentic.

“A lot of the best films today are based on true stories,” he offered.

Even though he describes what happened at the Florida schools for boys as unbelievable, Mr. Jones will soon see to it the nation knows the truth.

“We’ll make the movie; we’ll tell the truth; and, everyone will know what happened to us,” said Mr. Middleton from his Gainesville home.

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Jerry Cooper, President of the Official White House Boys organization, says the publicity from the unearthing of 55 graves at the Marianna school has raised awareness of abuses the boys saw in both Marianna and at the Okeechobee School for Boys.   He says both schools had locations for actual whipping and beatings with large straps. He promises more information on the Okeechobee boys school from the 50’s and 60’s thanks to a FOX News Miami special report in March.




JERRY COOPER INTERVIEW

TAMPA TRIBUNE
Dozier victims deserve closure

Published: February 6, 2014   

The state needs to find the appropriate way to bring closure to one of the most horrifying chapters in Florida history. 

University of South Florida investigators have uncovered 55 shallow, unmarked graves on the former grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and are attempting to identify the remains. 

According to a USF report, children sent to the Panhandle reform school were brutally beaten and used for slave labor. Some died attempting to escape, while many others died within months of arriving. The facility finally closed in 2011, after 111 years of operation. 

Thanks to the investigators’ persistence, the families of the boys who never returned from Dozier might finally have a chance at a proper burial. Now it’s up to the state to apologize to the those families and the former attendees who survived, and to acknowledge the state’s failures from decades long ago.  

Sadly, as the Tribune’s Jerome R. Stockfisch reports, that’s about all the families and former Dozier attendees can expect. 

A state attorney in 2009 found there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges related to the abuse. That same year, a lawsuit against the state filed by Dozier attendees was dismissed by a judge who cited, among other reasons, a statute of limitations on assault and battery. Legislative attempts in 2010 and 2011 to compensate Dozier attendees stalled, although a lawyer involved in the 2009 suit says it’s possible another claims bill could be filed. 

But that would take an interest in justice that the state has been shamefully slow to exhibit. In fact, the state seemed determined to obstruct efforts to identify the bodies buried at Dozier. It had identified only 31 graves, 24 fewer than USF investigators ultimately found. USF’s initial attempts to exhume the bodies for a proper burial were blocked by Secretary of State Ken Detzner for bureaucratic reasons that defied logic. 

Former state Sen. Mike Fasano, who filed the claims bills that stalled, still holds out hope that the Legislature will find a way to compensate the Dozier survivors and the families of those who never returned. “No one could even come close to imagining what those young boys had to deal with,” he said. A ‘sorry’ is not enough.” 

But as Stockfisch reports, the focus for many of the families now is to have the remains identified and returned. They are already making plans to bury the remains in family plots. 

It appears that measure of comfort will be delivered because of USF and its investigators. We encourage Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature to find a way to deliver what comfort they can.

USF Researchers Find Additional Bodies at Dozier School for Boys
Monday, January 27, 2014 -

USF VIDEO



TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2014) –
Researchers from the University of South Florida have located and excavated the remains of 55 people in a graveyard at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys – five more bodies than previous fieldwork had indicated might be there and 24 more burials than official records indicate should be there.

The team of more than 50 people from nine agencies is attempting to identify the remains, as well as any information on cause of death from those buried at the now closed reform school. Using cutting-edge scientific methods, DNA matches and advanced technology, scientists working on the nearly two-year-old project aim to identify the bodies buried at the school in Marianna, Florida, which has been the subject of repeated state and federal investigations and claims of brutality and child abuse during its 100 year history.

Erin Kimmerle updates the media on the findings at Dozier.
On Tuesday, researchers from USF updated the public on the status of the research. Associate Professor Erin Kimmerle, the project’s leader, announced several key developments:

· The team recovered bones, teeth, and numerous artifacts in every one of the 55 burials. The excavation work began in September 2013 and continued through December 2013.

· Researchers will continue searching for additional unmarked burials on the school grounds, both in the areas adjacent to Boot Hill and in other areas of the school grounds. Over the next few months fieldwork will resume - including additional excavations, ground-penetrating radar analysis and the use of specially-trained K9 teams to locate burials.

· Analysis of the excavated remains is underway. Through this process, a summary report will be written for each body, including all of the information learned from skeletal and dental remains, artifacts, and burial context. Bone and tooth samples will be submitted to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for DNA testing.

· Researchers continue to work with UNT, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to locate possible next of kin to collect reference samples for identification. At this point, 12 surviving families of former Dozier students have been located and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of collecting DNA samples from them. Researchers still hope to collect DNA from 42 more families.

Ovell Krell is searching for her brother George Owen Smith.

A list of families for which the researchers are searching can be found here.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Master Detective Greg Thomas at (813)  247-8678.

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

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

The Dozier project is funded by both the State of Florida and the National Institute of Justice.

“I am very pleased that we are playing a critical role in the forensic investigations at the former Dozier School,” said Greg Ridgeway, the Acting Director of the National Institute of Justice. “The National Institute of Justice has paved the way to ever-more advanced and effective uses of forensics in solving crimes, and I am confident that the discoveries made by the USF team will not only bring resolution to these cases but will add to our knowledge about investigations of missing and unidentified persons in jurisdictions across the country.”





Body count raises to FIFTY FIVE children at abusive Florida reform school as more remains are excavated

Records indicated 31 burials at site but researchers estimated there would be dozens more at Arthur G Dozier School for Boys
Former inmates at the reform school in Marianna, Florida from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings that took place 
At least 12 families have contacted researchers in hopes of identifying relatives that might be buried at Dozier


By Associated Press 

PUBLISHED: 17:31 EST, 28 January 2014  | UPDATED: 17:51 EST, 28 January 2014   

The remains of 55 people have been unearthed from a graveyard at a former reform school with a history of abuse, researchers said today.

University of South Florida researchers began excavating the graveyard at the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in September. The dig finished in December.

Official records indicated 31 burials at the Marianna site but researchers had estimated there would be about 50 graves.

All the bodies found were interred in coffins either made at the school or bought from manufacturers, said Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist leading the university's investigation. 

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

Now, researchers will try to identify the remains and determine the causes of death. The bodies were buried sometime between the late 1920s and early 1950s, researchers said.

'We know very little about those who are buried,' Kimmerle said.

They found buttons, a stone marble in a boy's pocket and hardware from coffins. Researchers recovered thousands of nails and a brass plate that read, 'At rest' - likely from a coffin lid.

DNA from the remains will be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for analysis. 

Twelve families have contacted researchers in the hopes of identifying relatives that might have been buried at the school, and officials hope dozens of other families will come forward and provide DNA samples to compare with the remains.

Ovell Krell of Auburndale is one of the relatives who already has come forward, hoping to find out what happened to her brother. 

George Owen Smith was sent to Dozier when he was 14 in 1941, and he was found dead a couple of months later. 

His family never recovered his body, and Krell hopes to claim his remains and bury them with their parents at a family plot in central Florida.

'We are hoping for closure,' she said.

Another dig is scheduled next month. Nearby residents and former employees and inmates at the northwest Florida school are helping investigators determine other potential burial sites, Kimmerle said.

Dozier opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 for budgetary reasons.

Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that that it could not substantiate or dispute the claims.

The University of South Florida secured a permit to exhume the remains after beginning its own research and verifying more deaths and graves than documented by law enforcement.

Former inmates at the reform school from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings that took place in a small, white concrete block building at the facility.

 A group of survivors call themselves the 'White House Boys' and five years ago called for an investigation into the graves.

 In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended an investigation and said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff.

USF later began its own research and discovered even more graves than the state department had identified. USF has worked for months to secure a permit to exhume the remains, finally receiving permission from Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet after being rejected by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who reports to Scott.

Robert Straley, a spokesman for the White House Boys, said the school segregated white and black inmates and that the remains are located where black inmates were held. He suspects there is another white cemetery that hasn’t been discovered.

'I think that there are at least 100 more bodies up there,' he said. 'At some point they are going to find more bodies, I’m dead certain of that. There has to be a white graveyard on the white side.'

Among those that have pushed to allow USF to conduct the research are Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

'My goal all along has been to help bring closure to the families who lost loved ones at Dozier. I feel great relief that the work to identify human remains is now underway,' Bondi said through a spokeswoman.

DNA obtained at the site will be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for analysis. If matches are found, remains will be returned to the families.

'They want to bury them in family plots and next to the boys’ mothers and things like that,' Kimmerle said. 'Anyone whose remains are unidentified will be re-interned here at Boot Hill.'

Any remains that are re-interned will have a grave marker and their DNA will be recorded in case anyone other families seek to identify remains
.

FL juvenile detention center’s graveyard yields 55 bodies

Posted On 28 Jan 2014 By AHN (from gantdaily.com)

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Tampa, FL, United States (4E) – Researchers announced Tuesday they have exhumed 55 bodies so far from the graveyard of a former reform school for boys in Marianna, Florida.

The number of bodies dug up at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys (AGDSB) from September through December is five more than expected by researchers, who will identify them through DNA testing and conduct an autopsy before turning them over to relatives for proper burial.

The exhumation will continue in the next several months as an estimated 96 boys died during detention at the AGDSB based on state records.

The researchers led by Erin Kimmerle, a University of South Florida (USF) associate professor, are also searching for 42 families from which to collect DNA samples for matching with the DNA from the bones and teeth found in the school.

The AGDSB was the subject of several investigations since 2008 aimed at finding if its staff committed abuse in disciplining young detainees there during its operation from 1900 to 2011.

Kimmerle and her team obtained a permit to to conduct archaeological research at the site in 2011. Using ground penetrating radar, the team initially found grave shafts of at least 50 unmarked burial sites. During the excavation, five more bodies were uncovered.

CBS 48 Crimesiders
55 bodies exhumed at shuttered Fla. reform school

By/Erin Donaghue/ CBS News/ January 28, 2014, 3: 20 PM 

Researchers have uncovered 55 bodies at a graveyard at the former Dozier School for Boys in Florida, where numerous boys died under mysterious circumstances. / CBS News/USF 

Tampa, Fla. - An excavation has uncovered the remains of 55 people, apparently children, in a graveyard at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida—five more than researchers expected to exhume and 24 more than officials records indicate should be there, researchers announced Tuesday.

According to state records, 96 boys died while incarcerated at the Dozier School for Boys, formerly known as the Florida State Reform School and the Florida Industrial School for Boys. Opened at the turn of the twentieth century in Marianna, west of Tallahassee, the juvenile detention center became notorious for allegations of abuse and brutality against the boys who were housed there and has been the subject of repeated state and federal investigations.

  In August of 2013, Florida officials voted to begin exhumations of the bodies at the now-shuttered school, and researchers from the University of South Florida located and excavated the bodies from September through December. 

Now, a team of nearly 50 researchers from nine agencies are now working to identify those remains and determine causes of death, according to a USF press release.

All 55 bodies uncovered appear to be children, researchers said, a USF spokeswoman told CBS News’ Crimesider. Researchers hope DNA testing will reveal more information about the deceased.

For the families of boys who died mysteriously at the school and whose bodies were never found, the announcement could bring them closer to answers they have long sought.

“This project has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right for families who, like all of us, have a right to know what happened to their loved ones and are entitled to bury their relatives in a manner in which they deem proper,” said Erin Kimmerle, USF associate professor and project leader, during a press conference.

Through the university, Kimmerle and her team were granted a permit to conduct archaeological research at the site in 2011. Using technology including ground penetrating radar, the team found grave shafts of at least 50 unmarked burial sites. Five more bodies were uncovered during the excavation process.

Scientists hope to identify the remains using scientific techniques including DNA matching, according to the press release. Eleven surviving families of former Dozier students have been located and the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office is in the process of collecting DNA samples from them.

However, researchers are still in search of 42 families from which to collect DNA, according to the statement. They’ve released a list of those families online, and anyone with more information is urged to call Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Master Detective Greg Thomas at (813) 247-8678.

Researchers uncovered bones, teeth, and numerous artifacts in all of the 55 burials, according to the press statement. They will develop a “summary report” for each body, including information gleaned from skeletal and dental remains, artifacts, and burial context. 

Bone and tooth samples will be submitted for DNA testing, according to the statement.

Fieldwork is set to resume at the shuttered school in coming months, according to the statement, and researchers will continue to search for unmarked burials using specially-trained K-9 teams and ground penetrating radar.
.
© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved

*55 boys' remains found at former Florida reform school site

US NEWS - API
Jan. 29, 2014 at 12:30 AM

       
TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Researchers exhuming unmarked graves at a notorious Florida Panhandle reform school retrieved the remains of 55 bodies, 24 more than an official state count.

The University of South Florida-led team recovered bones, teeth and numerous artifacts in each of the 55 graves found at the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, said project leader Erin Kimmerle, a USF associate professor.

Researchers also recovered a brass plate in one grave that read, "At Rest," likely from a coffin lid, she said.

The team of more than 50 people from nine agencies excavated the cemetery on the 1,400-acre campus in Marianna, 60 miles northwest of Tallahassee, between September and December.

Some graves, believed by researchers to be from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded plots.

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.

Despite a string of state and federal investigations over the years, school officials repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded in January 2010 there had been no foul play, the Tampa Tribune reported. State Attorney Glenn Hess said two months later no criminal charges would be filed.

"Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team," she said.

The team will now try to identify the remains, determine the causes of death and return the remains to relatives for proper burials.

"We're hoping to bring the families resolution and hopefully some sense of peace," Kimmerle said.

Researchers will start searching next week for additional unmarked graves on the school grounds. As they did earlier, they will look for signs of burial shafts using ground-penetrating radar, she said.

They will also use specially trained K9 teams to locate graves, Kimmerle said.

Funding for the 2-year-old effort comes from the state Legislature and the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice.
2014 United Press International, Inc.  

USF Team Uncovers More Bodies at Dozier than State Records Show

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: January 28, 2014 11:50 AM

sunshine state news
Dozier School Crosses

A research team from the University of South Florida announced they’ve found five more bodies at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, bringing the total number of burials to 55 -- 24 more burials than official state records indicate should be there.

Erin Kimmerle and Christian Wells held a press conference Tuesday to update the status of the excavation process, which began in September and continued through December.

“Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” said Kimmerle, who leads the research team.

In August, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet gave their full permission for the USF team to proceed with the exhumation of bodies in dozens upon dozens of unmarked graves on the reformatory's Marianna site.

In the excavation process, the team of researchers recovered bones, teeth and numerous artifacts in all 55 burials.

Researchers will continue to search for additional unmarked burials on the school grounds and will use ground-penetrating radar analysis and specially trained K9 teams to locate burials. The team will also begin analyzing excavated skeletal and dental remains to help aid in identifying remains.

Further analysis will also help the team date the burials and discover the circumstances surrounding the deaths.  
Artifacts

Artifact found at Dozier School

Kimmerle and her team began their research on the school two years ago, when they estimated there were up to 50 grave shafts in at the Marianna-based reform school.

The Dozier School for Boys has come under fire several times since it was founded 114 years ago in 1900. Allegations of torture and abuse, both physical and sexual, of boys living at the school became more common in recent years, and the calls to exhume bodies grew louder so families could get answers to questions about what happened to their relatives at the reform school.

Eleven families of former Dozier students have been found and the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office is currently undertaking the task of collecting DNA samples from them to help identify remains at the school. HCSO is still looking for other families in the effort to identify the remains of children buried at the school.

For the research team, the ultimate mission of the excavation process is simple -- they want to give closure to the families who have sought answers for so long.

“This project has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right,” Kimmerle said. “Families, like all of us, have a right to know what happened to their loved ones.”

Orvell Krell, whose brother was buried at Dozier, said she hoped the process would give her answers.

“Like everybody else in this, we just hope we’re one of the lucky ones that get some closure,” she said. "[Finding my brother] would be the answer to many long years of hopes and prayers."

The team will be heading back to Dozier to continue their research in February.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

NEWS4JAX.COM

Researchers announce Dozier School for Boys grave findings
Author: Chris Parenteau,
General assignment reporter,
cparenteau@wjxt.com
Published
On: Jan 28 2014 11:38:52 AM 

 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - 
University of South Florida researchers on Tuesday announced the findings of the initial four-month phase of excavation work at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.


(Note about video.  It might just be me, but I couldn't open this video in my Internet Explorer... I had to copy the URL into Google Chrome to see the video.  Just wanted to give you a head's up in case you have the same problem.  Here is the URL if you need it: http://www.news4jax.com/news/researchers-announce-dozier-school-for-boys-grave-findings/-/475880/24155388/-/eibrcbz/-/index.html  )

Dr. Erin Kimmerle said that during the dig, researchers expected to find as many as 50 gravesites in the Boot Hill Cemetery area of the school. Researchers ended up finding 55 graves, which is 24 more than had been documented on that site.

Many boys who were sent to the school have said that they expected researchers to find mass gravesites, with multiple bodies just buried in the same hole, with no markings around it.

"They were all single, individual graves with some type of burial container, like a casket or coffin," Kimmerle said. "Some were handmade at the school and some appear to be manufactured. I think the one as an example at the at-risk place was a manufactured coffin that would have been purchased."

Ovell Krell, who is hoping her brother's body is one of the ones identified, is thankful for all of the hard work researchers have put into this project.

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

Investigators with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said that the most recent documented death at the reform school was in 1952.

Some former inmates at the school said they aren't surprised that more graves than had been documented were found. They said that when researchers go back to continue digging in a couple months, they could possibly find thousands more graves.

"There's more, and no telling how many, said Tommy Moore, who was sent to the school twice in the 1950s.

In August before the digging began, Moore said that the beatings and killings were still going on in the '50s, even though school records said they ended decades earlier.

In addition to bones and teeth researchers found in every burial, they also found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, and a child's marble. Some of the burials were under trees, a roadway and other brush in the Boot Hill area on what used to be the side of campus for black inmates. Moore is convinced the same would be found on the other side.

"If you get into the white side, you will find the same thing," he said. "They were buried where you wouldn't think you could find them. You had about eight or nine supervisors that would beat you to death. And you'd go down there and take 35-40 licks with a barber strap. There's not too many people who can survive that."

The skeletal remains found so far will be sent to the forensics lab at the University of North Texas for analysis and possible matching with family members who have submitted DNA samples already. They have also released a list of 42 more known deaths and are hoping that people recognize the names of family members and submit a DNA sample to possibly match some remains. 


Initial dig results from Dozier - Transcript from Video Above

Published On: Jan 28 2014 06:12:04 PM EST
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:  For four months they dug - looking for clues. Now, researchers with the University of South Florida announced their findings from the excavation work at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. They found 55 grave sites in a small area. That's 24 more graves than the school had documented. Channel 4's Chris Parenteau has been following this story since the digging began... He's joining us with reaction from a former student...Chris 3 3 In talking with a couple of former inmates at the Dozier School, they aren't surprised that more graves than had been documented were found. They say that when researchers go back to continue digging in a couple months, they could possibly find thousands more graves. 3 06-1228-331:05-1:101:35- 1:40SOT 20:10 There's more.And no telling how many.VO Tommy Moore was sent to the Dozier School twice in the 1950's. When I talked to him in August, before the digging began, he said that the beatings and killings were still going on in the 1950's, even though school records said they ended decades earlier. Today, researchers announced that some of the casket hardware they found buried were from the 50's.SOT 17:58 Through cleaning and cataloging and the process of analysis, we have been able to identify individual makers marks and individual companies and track down the dates of production. 18:45 It's really useful to be able to identify individuals that were interred in the cemetery to narrow down the list and identify who is who.VO Some relatives of boys who were sent to the school, but never heard from again were at the news conference today. Ovell Krell is hoping one of the sets of remains found is that of her brother, so she can bury them between her mother and father.SOT 32:49 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 on of the lucky ones that gets some closure.VO In addition to bones and teeth researchers found in every burial, they also found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, and a child's marble. Some of the burials were under trees, a roadway, and other brush in the Boot Hill area on what used to be the side of campus for black inmates.Tommy Moore is convinced the same would be found on the other side.SOT 24:00 If you get into the white side, you will find the same thing. They were buried where you wouldn't think you could find them. 23:31 You had about eight or nine supervisors that would beat you to death. And you'd go down there and take 35-40 licks with a barber strap, there's not too many people who can survive that. 3 The skeletal remains found so far will be sent to the forensics lab at the University of North Texas for analysis and possible matching with family members who have submitted DNA samples already. They have also released a list of 42 more known deaths and are hoping that people recognize the names of family members and submit a DNA sample to possibly match some remains. We have put that list on our website


JC FLORIDIAN
USF researchers find 55 bodies at Dozier site - 24 more than official records indicate; Work continues to identify remains

Angie Cook / Jackson County Floridan

Researchers from the University of South Florida on Tuesday provided an update on their ongoing work at the site of the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

During the press event hosted in Tampa, project leader Dr. Erin Kimmerle and other members of the USF team, which consists of more than 50 people from nine agencies, discussed the work so far, and what lies ahead.

55 SETS OF REMAINS

To date, the USF team reports that it has located and disinterred 55 sets of remains from a graveyard at Dozier. That number is 24 more burials than official records indicate should be at the site and it exceeds previous field work estimations by five.

During excavation work done September through December 2013, USF says the team recovered bones, teeth and numerous artifacts — coffin hardware, buttons and a stone marble among them — in every one of the 55 burials.

Scientists working on the project, which has been going on nearly two years, aim to identify the bodies buried at the school, which was the subject of investigations into claims of brutality and child abuse that occurred during its 100-year history. The team is attempting to identify the remains and cause-of-death information using DNA matches and advanced technology.

The excavated remains are still being analyzed -- bone and tooth samples will go to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for DNA testing -- and as that process continues a summary report is expected for each body, including information gleaned from skeletal/dental remains, artifacts and the context of the burial.

SEARCH FOR MORE FAMILIES

Tracking down possible next of kin of former Dozier students in order to collect reference samples for DNA identification continues. So far, 11 surviving families have been located and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of collecting their DNA. Still, researchers hope to collect samples from an additional 42 families.

A list of the families being sought has been published by HCSO and anyone with information related to their whereabouts is asked to contact HCSO Master Detective Greg Thomas at 813-247-8678.

RETURN TO MARIANNA

There is still more work to be done in Jackson County. Fielding questions on Tuesday, Kimmerle said the team’s experience in Marianna had been largely positive so far, noting helpful assistance from local residents familiar with both the layout and the history of the areas in and around the work site and the security provided at the dig site by local law enforcement agencies.

Researchers will continue searching for additional unmarked burials on the Dozier grounds, in areas adjacent to the Boot Hill cemetery and other parts of the grounds.

The team will return to Marianna over the next few months as fieldwork resumes on the Dozier project, which is funded by the State of Florida and the National Institute of Justice. Planned are additional excavations, ground-penetrating radar analysis and the use of specially trained K9 teams to locate any other burials that remain.

“Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” Kimmerle stated in a release from USF.

“At this time, we know very little about the burials and the children in terms of who specifically was buried there, their ages or ancestry, as well as the timing and circumstances of their deaths.

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

WUSF UNIVERSITY BEAT




Cadaver dogs helping with search for bodies at Dozier School

Ben Montgomery
Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer
 
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 8:33pm

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times
Marian Beland of Somersville, Conn., and her cadaver dog, a Portuguese water dog named Tracer, search Tuesday for additional grave sites at the former Dozier School for Boys. Researchers from the University of South Florida enlisted teams of cadaver dogs to help in their search. 

MARIANNA — A spot of buried blood. A drop of subsurface semen. A bone fragment in the ground for decades.

Those are things cadaver dogs have been trained to smell, according to handlers from NecroSearch International, a nonprofit group enlisted to help find the bodies of boys who died in custody of the state's oldest reform school here on the outskirts of town.

The search continues this week for boys buried outside the known cemetery on the campus of the now-shuttered Dozier School for Boys, known through the years as the Florida Industrial School and the Florida School for Boys.

Anthropologists from the University of South Florida are leading the search. They announced last week that they found remains of 55 people in and around a cemetery on campus known as Boot Hill, 24 more than a 2009 state investigation turned up.

They found one burial under a tree, several under a road and some near a more modern dumping ground.

There may be more. The school's records indicate more than 80 boys died in custody.

The teams of dogs from as far away as Utah and Massachusetts joined the search Monday. The specially trained dogs can pick up scent from human remains buried long ago and are often used to find lost burials.

The dogs combed the 1,400-acre campus Tuesday, sniffing through the thick Panhandle woodlands, soggy swamps and kudzu-covered fields. They alerted their handlers to a variety of spots that will be tested with ground-penetrating radar and an anthropological method known as ground-truthing to determine whether human remains have been buried there.

USF wants to identify all the remains and turn them over to families who want them.

Former wards of the scandalous school, which opened in 1900, have reported stumbling onto grave markers or burial depressions on the south side of campus. Family members of boys known to have died in custody have also told the Tampa Bay Times that they recall being shown a cemetery that is not Boot Hill.

"I just want to help find them and get them all," said Marian Beland, who brought her Portuguese water dog Tracer from Connecticut to help search. "And get them all out of there."

Cadaver dogs helping with search for bodies at Dozier School 02/04/14  [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 9:38pm]

 

Remains of 55 bodies found near former Florida reform school
BY BILL COTTERELL
TALLAHASSEE Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:27pm EST

U.S. »
(Reuters) - Excavations at a makeshift graveyard near a now-closed reform school in the Florida Panhandle have yielded remains of 55 bodies, almost twice the number official records say are there, the University of South Florida announced on Tuesday.

"This is precisely why excavation was necessary," said USF professor Erin Kimmerle, head of the research project. "The only way to truly establish the facts about the deaths and burials at the school is to follow scientific processes."

On a hillside in the rolling, tall-pine forests near the Alabama-Georgia border, a team of more than 50 searchers from nine agencies last year dug up the graves to check out local legends and family tales of boys, mostly black, who died or disappeared without explanation from the Dozier School for Boys early in the last century.

The school, infamous for accounts of brutality told by former inmates, was closed by the state in 2011.

The University of South Florida was commissioned to look into deaths at the school in the Panhandle city of Marianna, after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced the presence of 31 official grave sites in 2010.

Excavation began last September with bones, teeth and several artifacts from grave sites sent to the University of North Texas Science Center for DNA testing.

Members of 11 families who lost boys at Dozier have been located by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for DNA sampling and researchers hope to find 42 more families for possible matching.

State investigators initially located 31 suspected graves in the woods across a busy highway from the shuttered reform school. Kimmerle's more detailed probes raised the number to 50 or 51 last year, and USF announced on Tuesday the searchers had found remains of 55 bodies.

"Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team," said Kimmerle.

"All of the analyses needed to answer these important questions are yet to be done, but it is our intention to answer as many of these questions as possible."

Research will continue in areas adjacent to the graveyard, dubbed "boot hill" by school officials and inmates a century ago.

Greg Ridgeway, acting director of the National Institute of Justice, praised Kimmerle's work. He said the discoveries made by the USF team "will not only bring resolution to these cases but will add to our knowledge about investigations of missing and unidentified persons in jurisdictions throughout the country."

(Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh)

Video: Update: 24 more bodies found at Dozier School for Boys

Video: 55 bodies found buried at Dozier reform school

Dozier School for Boys graves
 PDF Document: 5997 Dozier family chart

 
St. Petersburg, FL - University of South Florida researchers say they've located 55 bodies at the now-closed Dozier School for Boys in the Florida panhandle. That's 24 more than official records indicate.

See Also: Exhumation begins of bodies found at reform school

A team of more than 50 people from nine different agencies are now attempting to identify the remains, as well as determine the cause of death. USF Associate Prof. Dr. Erin Kimmerle says they'll use bone and tooth samples to try to identify the bodies.

"This project has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right," Kimmerle told reporters on Tuesday morning. "For families who, like all of us, have a right to know what happened to their loved ones and are entitled to bury their relatives in a manner in which they deem proper."

Click here for a PDF list of families that researchers are searching for. Anyone with with information is asked to contact Hillsborough County Sheriff's Master Detective Greg Thomas at 813-247-8678.

Some former students of the reform school claim they were abused and beaten at Dozier.

USF researchers will continue doing field work at Dozier through early August. The researchers needed permission from the state before they were allowed to begin exhuming graves.

Kimmerle says they'll resume work on site next month, using specially trained K9 teams to locate any additional burials. They have already used ground-penetrating radar to find bodies.

So far, bone and tooth samples from five bodies have been sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for DNA testing.

Dozier, located in Marianna, had been open for more than 100 years before it closed in 2011.

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