On Saturday morning, researchers in Florida began the heavy task of excavating bodies at the notorious Dozier School for Boys, according to the Miami Herald. Those who have pushed for the exhumation of bodies in the unmarked graves surrounding the campus hope that the excavations will reveal decades old secrets and give families the closure they desire.
Boys at the Dozier School who passed away of illness, or were brutally k!lled, died without a permanent plot marking their graves. As the excavation began, many hoped that the families of the deceased boys would finally be able to bury their loved ones.
Early in the day, researchers from the University of South Florida located a casket buried in a shallow hole under brush on the campus.
“The hardware puts it in the 1940s or later,” said Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF who has the responsibility of identifying the remains, determining cause of death, and returning the remains to the families. “It’s a very slow process and we wanted to start out using very traditional archaeological methods to control the context,” said Kimmerle.
At the grave sites were detectives, archaeologists, students, and anthropologists, all of whom will play a role in the excavation and identification process.
Boys who attended the Dozier School for Boys, which closed in 2011, recalled tales of gruesome abuse, which included s*xual molestation as well as mµrder and disappearances, going back to the 1940’s.
In 2012, radar was used to identify at least 19 bodies buried on the school’s campus.
“These are children who came here and died, for one reason or another, and have just been lost in the woods,” said Kimmerle.
Initially, Florida officials refused to allow researchers on campus to search for bodies, but outcry among former students of the school and legislators forced them to change their position.