The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in is host to more than just young men looking for a second chance and an education- it also is the former place where young boys were abused for infractions, some dying in the process. Bone fragments and other evidence was uncovered at the school by researchers Saturday.
The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys had staff that regularly beat their wards, killing at least 98 boys total from 1911 to the 1950s and 1960s, according to University of South Florida researchers. The Mariana, Fla. school's previous survivors have told of their abuses and deaths at the school, but the extent of the horrors there are only now being uncovered.
"I think there's at least 100 more bodies," Robert Straley, a former ward at the school for 10 months, told The Los Angeles Times. "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."
So far 13 graves have been uncovered, and there is evidence that the black children and white children killed were buried separately.
"At some point they are going to find more bodies up there," Straley confirmed. "I'm dead certain of that. There has to be a white graveyard on the white side."
The researchers, who are led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an anthropologist from USF, will work on the site until Tuesday, and have plans to unearth two to four more graves by then. After that, they will resume their work at a later date.
This isn't the first time the issue of the school, whose survivors call themselves the White House Boys, has been revealed. A Miami Herald article in 2008 first exposed the abuses, but the Florida Department of Justice did not find enough evidence to pursue criminal charges for alleged sexual and physical abuse. In 2011, the school was closed.
However, Straley's persistence, along with support from public figures like Republican attorney general Pam Bondi and Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, made the issue too large to ignore. Remains will be tested for DNA, so family members can identify them at a later date.
"They want to bury them in family plots and next to the boys' mothers and things like that," Kimmerle told the Jackson County Floridian. "Anyone whose remains are unidentified will be re-interned here at Boot Hill."