University of South Florida researchers will begin exhuming dozens of graves today at a former reform school in hopes of identifying the buried boys and learning how they died. Former inmates from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings that took place in a small, white concrete block building at the facility in Marianna. A group of survivors call themselves the "White House Boys" and have long pressed for investigations into the graves. In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended an investigation and said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff.
USF later began its own research and discovered even more graves than the state department had identified. USF has worked for months to secure a permit to exhume the remains, finally receiving permission from Gov. Rick Scott. A spokesman for the White House Boys said the school segregated white and black inmates and that the remains are located where black inmates were held. He suspects there is another white cemetery that hasn't been discovered. "I think that there are at least 100 more bodies up there," he said. "At some point they are going to find more bodies, I'm dead certain of that. There has to be a white graveyard on the white side." (Read more Florida stories.)