[Report Abuse]
[Login to Blog] PoliticsNation's Blog
Grave Excavation Begins At Florida Reform School

Take Me To Post Comment Form



University of South Florida researchers began exhuming dozens of graves Saturday at a former Panhandle reform school where horrific beatings have been reported in hopes of identifying the boys and learning how they died.

The digging and work at the site of the former Dozier Boys School will continue until Tuesday, with researchers hoping to unearth the remains of four to six boys before resuming at a later date, said Erin Kimmerle, the USF anthropologist leading the excavation.

After work began Saturday, relatives of one of the boys believed to be buried at the school held a private prayer at the grave sites. The family has provided DNA in hopes of finding a match with Robert Stephens. School records show he was fatally stabbed by another inmate in 1937, but his family hopes to confirm how he actually died through the exhumation efforts.

If his remains are found, his family says they will be reburied in a family plot in Quincy.

"That will be a great sense of homecoming," Tananarive Due said. The boy was Due's great-uncle. She was at the site Saturday with her son, father and husband, and said she hopes that other families will also be able to locate relatives buried there.

"Their families never had a proper opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones. In a lot of cases children just disappeared," said Due, who lives in Atlanta.

Former inmates at the reform school from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings 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.

"In these historic cases, it's really about having an accurate record and finding out what happened and knowing the truth about what happened," Kimmerle said of efforts at the school, which opened in 1900 and shut down two years ago for budgetary reasons.

Kimmerle said the remains of about 50 people are in the graves. Some are marked with a plain, white steel cross, and others have no markings.

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 Florida's 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.

The holiday weekend's initial work is meant to ensure that the process works smoothly before researchers return to the site. The remains will be brought to Tampa to be studied. DNA obtained will be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for analysis. The hope is that it can be matched to relatives. Ten families have contacted researchers in hopes of identifying relatives that might be buried at Dozier.

If matches are found, remains will be returned to the families


Latest Activity: Sep 01, 2013 at 2:13 PM


Bookmark and Share
Forward This Blog
Print Blog
More Blogs by PoliticsNation
Send PoliticsNation a Message
Report Abuse


Blog has been viewed (459) times.


Log In to post comments.

Previous blog entries by PoliticsNation
 
Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You--Liberty County
May 30, 2016
I can't count the number of times that someone born and raised in this community has stated- if the military wasn't here-the community would be in better shape. I usually brush it off because I realize they are clueless regarding the positive impact the military has on Liberty County and ...
Read More »
 
Coastal Empire First Black Rodeo
May 28, 2016
I'm excited about the Coastal Empires first Black Rodeo. The fact that it's being called the "First Black Rodeo" will upset some. I'm sure the reason they choose the name has to do with the fact that it's unique and you don't see many minorities participating in the local rodeos. ...
Read More »
 
GOP--Want's The Troops (BAH) Housing Allowance--
May 28, 2016
Congress is targeting military housing stipends, and it could cost troops thousands.You don't have to look far to know who's targeting the troops. Senate lawmakers want to radically overhaul how military housing stipends are awarded and end the practice of troops pocketing extra cash from the payouts. The plan is ...
Read More »
 
Breaking! Wayne County Coach/wife arrested.
May 24, 2016
WAYNE COUNTY, Ga. -The former Wayne County High School Football coach / Athletic Director Jody Grooms and his wife were arrested Tuesday. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent in Charge said 47-year-old Grooms and his wife Sharon turned themselves in to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators say Grooms if ...
Read More »
 
Why The Church Is losing Its Influence
May 24, 2016
The evidence that the church is losing is as clear as the writing on the walls and the rattle in the collection plates. Western Christian religion is crumbling, its authority and influence is fading. Last week someone posted a blog about a pastor stealing funds and this week we're reading ...
Read More »
 
[View More Blogs...]





 
Powered by
Morris Technology