Exhumations at Dozier School for Boys could begin
in the near future
By Preston Rudie WTSP-10 News
Tampa, FL -- A plan is being worked on that could mean exhumations at the
former Dozier School for Boys will begin in the near future.
The comment was made after a meeting Tuesday between University of South
Florida researchers, a representative of the state Attorney General's Office,
the NAACP and others. It also follows a judge's decision last week not to issue
a court order permitting the exhumation of more than 50 unmarked graves at
the controversial Marianna school.
But Glan Varnadoe, who attended Tuesday's meeting and whose uncle died at Dozier, says the judge's ruling doesn't mean USF researchers can't move forward with
their work. In fact, Varnadoe says the judge made it clear the medical examiner already has the authority to approve exhumations.
"(The judge) left open several avenues for us to go down. He basically has washed his hands of it and we have plenty of avenues to go down to continue the process,"
Varnadoe told 10 News.
Varnadoe went on to tell 10 News that it's his hope exhumations could begin within the next 30 to 60 days at Dozier.
USF anthropologists and archaeologists say they have uncovered 50 grave sites on the campus of Dozier which is 19 more than officially reported.
In recent years, dozens of former boys sent to the school have also claimed they were victims of brutal beatings and abuse at Dozier.
In a 200-page report issued earlier this year, USF researchers also said 98 deaths occurred at the state-run reform school between 1914 and 1973... which is 17 more
than previously stated.
USF officials declined to answer questions after Tuesday's meeting but they did issue the following statement in the afternoon:
"This morning, the University of South Florida had a productive meeting with Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox and others regarding the Dozier ruling including
representatives from Senator Bill Nelson's office, the Varnadoe family, the NAACP and the Medical Examiner's office. USF is working collaboratively to continue the
research begun by USF Associate Professor of Anthropology Erin Kimmerle and her team. The USF researchers appreciate the continued interest and support this
project has received throughout Florida and the nation, and will be forthcoming with more specific information as it becomes available."