Saturday, March 1, 2014

Graveyard At The Dozier School For Boys

A former reform school is under scrutiny this week after excavations in a graveyard near the school yielded the bones of 55 young males.  Stories from the archives at the school would make for a grisly horror genre movie.  Boys were beaten, raped, killed, burned up in the incinerator and witnesses saw body parts  in the hog slop.  The Florida Department of Agriculture ran the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the boys were used as slave labor in the city of Marianna.  Threats kept anyone from telling the truth about the school.

As we know, bones never lie and the story they tell is that official reports were untruthful about how many boys were buried near the school.  The graveyard was found across the street from the school and the University of South Florida was given authority to excavate the site and send bones and teeth to Texas for DNA testing to try to identify those dumped in unmarked graves.  Parents were not notified when boys died and so many families were left believing their child had just disappeared.  USF Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle has lead the team and said, “We’re bringing a last measure of human dignity for these boys.”
A former resident at Dozier, Robert Straley, thinks there could be another 100 bodies in the graveyard that was dubbed “Boot Hill.”  Straley went on to say, “From 1900 to 1940 were the most brutal years in that place. Back then, a white boy’s life wasn’t worth much and a black boy’s life wasn’t worth anything.”
Another former resident, Roger Dean Kiser,  wrote a book on his experience at Dozier, “The White House Boys,” and he claimed when he heard about the excavations, “They’re going to find a lot of bodies out there, and there are a lot more bodies they’ll never find.”  Kiser wrote in his book that he was beaten twice with a leather whip reinforced by sheet metal.  He reported that other boys were sodomized and beaten until their underwear became one with their skin.  This is the White House:

The excavations started in September 2013.  Ground probing technology identified 50 possible burials that were unmarked save for thirty-one white crosses erected in memory of the boys in the 1990s.  No criminal charges will be pressed and I imagine that most of the guilty are dead anyway.  And many of the dead may never be found.

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