A week after a circuit court judge denied a request for USF researchers to exhume bodies from graves at the former Dozier School for Boys, USF is seeking permission from state authorities to exhume the graves.
Exhuming the graves at the Marianna reform school, which was notorious for abuse and the deaths of many boys, would “help answer these remaining questions about who is buried at the site, the burial practices and circumstances of their lives and deaths and the significant role of this institution in Florida history and heritage,” a letter signed by two professors on the research team said, according to the Associated Press.
The Florida Legislature already appropriated $200,000 toward the project, and in late May, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
expressing his support for USF’s grant application to the Department of Justice for $3 million that would support the project.
The exhumations would take approximately a year to complete, and the research is being led by Erin Kimmerle, an assistant professor of anthropology.
According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, Circuit Court Justice William Wright, who denied the request,
stated that a medical examiner has authority over exhumations, while a state archaeologist would have that authority for remains “interred for more than 75 years.”
— Staff report