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Could DNA Finally Explain 98 Reform School Deaths?
Dozens of children died at Florida school between 1914 and 1973
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 15, 2013 9:55 AM CDT
Dick Colon, right, and Mike McCarthy, left, recall their time at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys during ceremonies dedicating a memorial to the boys' suffering, Oct. 21, 2008, in Marianna, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

(Newser) – Between 1914 and 1973, a Florida reform school—once the nation's largest—saw 98 deaths, of which 96 were children between ages 6 and 18, researchers have confirmed. But the deaths remain cloaked in mystery, and many of the bodies have never been recovered. Now, researchers at the University of South Florida are using DNA tests on victims' relatives to shed light on the story, the AP reports. According to records, 45 people were buried on the property of the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys between 1914 and 1952; researchers believe there might be more.

They're seeking permits to exhume bodies, hoping to compare DNA from at least seven relatives to local remains. "We're bringing a last measure of human dignity for these boys," says a professor. Just three years after the school opened in 1900, a probe found kids "in irons, just as common criminals"; during the 1950s and early 1960s, boys were beaten with a leather and metal strap for crimes like singing or talking to black peers. Most of the buried children were black, experts say. At least 50 graves have already been discovered, says US Sen. Bill Nelson. "The families deserve the answers. They deserve to know the truth."

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Showing 3 of 43 comments
KennyLLC
Jun 16, 2013 1:17 PM CDT
This should be treated just like a Nazi concentration camp investigation with trials of Nuremberg scale. Makes me sick to think this happened in America. But just consider what happens on any given weekend in county lockup to first-offenders. Gitmo doesn't hold a candle to this sh!t !
NoFun
Jun 15, 2013 8:15 PM CDT
Read the Wiki it is horrific. That fact that creeps like Devolutionary want to down play this mass rape, torture and murder is sickening. Right wingers wring their hands about 'white guilt', well heres something to feel to guilty about. Well I would feel something if the crimes were not so numbingly shocking.
HMD-SMD-ITY
Jun 15, 2013 3:25 PM CDT
This reminds me of the Hissom Memorial Center (LLoyd Rader Center) in Sand Springs, Ok. It was featured on underground websites as it had a morgue. Why should a state ran center for children have a morgue when you have a state operated medical examiner's office just a few miles away? There was some really bad stuff going on there through the years and the state finally shut it down and shifted the bad apples to private ran homes and centers. The center was sold off and is now an energy industry supply company.