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USF researchers release final report from Dozier School for Boys
By Jason Lanning/Holly Gregory , Team Coverage
Last Updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016, 5:19 PM
The University of South Florida has released its final report on the Dozier School for Boys.
USF anthropologists have discovered 51 unmarked graves at Dozier, a former boys reform school in Marianna, which researchers and former inmates believe to be
the final resting places of predominantly African-American boys who were beaten to death.
Officials said most of the deaths that occurred there were because of illnesses, but others were more mysterious, involving shootings, drownings and beatings.
Final USF report on archeological work at Dozier School for Boys
The 168-page USF report stops short of saying anything criminal happened at the school, which was established in 1900 and closed in 2011. However, the report
also indicates that wasn't the focus of any investigations.
Researchers do say the remains show evidence of poor nutrition and no dental care. In one case, it appears a boy was shot, and in another, a boy may have been
beaten to death, evidenced by kidney damage.
One set of remains was found with a lead ball — consistent with buckshot from a rifle — although law enforcement could not confirm what the lead ball was.
Using old maps, pictures and old school ledgers, USF researchers on Thursday presented a final report to the state of Florida that tries to piece together the
conflicted past of the school.
USF researchers made positive DNA matches on seven of the remains and 14 presumptive matches from old school records and pictures from the 1950s.
Because thorough school records were not kept over the years, there are multiple holes in the history of the school once prided as a place for at-risk children and
"We see direct evidence of marginalization," the USF report says, "such as the discrepancies among those who lived and died, which of the deaths were
investigated or even reported to the State."
Survivors of the school have told researchers that at least three boys were beaten to death, although evidence and remains could not confirm those accounts. In
1934, a 13-year-old boy died just 38 days after arriving at the school, according to reports.
USF, along with other agencies, has helped families cover the cost of reburials. A Pasco County funeral home donated caskets and services for free.
Two more sets of remains were recently positively identified. One of them is a St. Petersburg boy who died in 1935. The cousin of Grady Huff gave DNA samples
that matched the remains from Dozier grave number 54.
The 17-year-old was sent to Dozier for stealing a car. His family never knew what happened to him.
“It was a big relief to know they were working on it and there was a chance to identify his remains," said Elmer Hutchins, who lives in Pinellas Park.
Now, eight decades after his death, Huff's remains will be buried next to this of his father in Georgia.
“It's like a weight has been lifted being able to send the remains back to where his father was buried,” said Linda Julier, another cousin of Huff’s from Pinellas Park.
"To be able to put him with his dad - it's closure."
The death certificate lists Huff's cause of death as inflammation of the kidney followed by a hernia, but the family says they will never know exactly what happened to
USF officials say researchers will continue working to identify remains found at Dozier. The teams at work there will also be a part of a documentary about the
school that will be released this fall.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), has called for a federal investigation into Dozier.
University of South Florida researchers sift through remains at the Dozier School for Boys in
Marianna in this undated image.