Tampa, FL, United States (4E) – Researchers announced Tuesday they have exhumed 55 bodies so far from the graveyard of a former reform school for boys in Marianna, Florida.
The number of bodies dug up at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys (AGDSB) from September through December is five more than expected by researchers, who will identify them through DNA testing and conduct an autopsy before turning them over to relatives for proper burial.
The exhumation will continue in the next several months as an estimated 96 boys died during detention at the AGDSB based on state records.
The researchers led by Erin Kimmerle, a University of South Florida (USF) associate professor, are also searching for 42 families from which to collect DNA samples for matching with the DNA from the bones and teeth found in the school.
The AGDSB was the subject of several investigations since 2008 aimed at finding if its staff committed abuse in disciplining young detainees there during its operation from 1900 to 2011.
Kimmerle and her team obtained a permit to to conduct archaeological research at the site in 2011. Using ground penetrating radar, the team initially found grave shafts of at least 50 unmarked burial sites. During the excavation, five more bodies were uncovered.