University of South Florida Researchers to Exhume Unmarked
Graves of Dozier Reform School Boys
Posted by Russell Westerholm
The Florida Cabinet has decided to let researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) exhume the bodies of
boys buried behind the infamous Dozier reform school for boys in Marianna, Fla., the Miami Herald reported.
The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, known as "the White House," was a reform school in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
The boys who were taken from their homes and put into the school claim they were mercilessly beaten and raped
repeatedly. Some did not live to tell their story and are buried in unmarked graves behind the school.
When Florida Gov. Rick Scott and three other state officials announced their decision Tuesday, the "White House
Boys" (surviving attendees of the school) present stood and cheered, many cried with joy.
Erin Kimmerle, a USF forensic anthropologist, will lead the team of researchers in the one year they were granted to
exhume the bodies to identify them and hopefully return them to their families for proper burials.
"We've very grateful to [Attorney General] Pam Bondi for helping to make this happen," Kimmerle said after the
meeting. "And we're thankful to the Cabinet and the governor. It's been a long process."
The researchers have been blocked from digging up the unmarked graves for a long time and they believe there is
more buried than previously thought. Just from using ground-penetrating radar, they found 50 burial shafts, 19 more
than a previous search. There could also be more, the researchers are looking for a possible second burial site.
"There's not going to be enough crime scene tape in the state of Florida to take care of this situation," said Jerry
Cooper of Cape Coral, who received more than 100 lashes during a beating at the school.
Roger Kiser, now 67, of Brunswick, Ga., said he was sent to the school for running away from an abusive orphanage.
"I'm numb," he said. "I don't know what to say. I'm just glad that Florida is finally doing the right thing."
The school opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 after scandals and allegations continued to arise over its
century-long lifetime. Since 2008, when five men came forward with their stories of abuse, hundreds of men have
made public their horrific experience. Many also remember classmates disappearing, while some remember being
ordered to dig graves large enough for a boy.
According the NBC News, school records indicate 31 boys were buried on the campus and most died in a fire or
during an influenza outbreak.
"We have fought so hard to get to this point," Bryant Middleton, 68, told the Herald. "They're going to find out the