More remains excavated at Fla. reform school yard

Dozier School for Boys in Marianna

A Dec. 17, 2013 photo, provided by the University of South Florida, shows Associate Professor Erin Kimmerle, center, facing camera, with investigators at a research site in a graveyard at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. Researchers from the university have excavated the remains of 55 people in the graveyard at Dozier, five more than previous fieldwork had indicated might be there and 24 more than official records indicate should be there.

AP Photo/Ho, University of South Florida Anthropology Team
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 04:53 PM.

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

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.



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