Search continues for graves at Dozier
According to some reports in Northwestern Florida, no additional unmarked graves were found outside of Boot Hill at the Arthur G. Dozier School for boys, where 55 bodies were exhumed earlier this year.
However, USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez USF archaeologists were not finished looking for bodies at the school in Marianna, Florida.
“We got lots and lots of work to do before we’re anywhere close to having any sort of resolution,” she said.
Media reports were based on a 33-page report released July 8 as a procedural requisite to the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (FBAR) that disclosed findings of 33 areas of interest at the South Campus dormitory site.
Though there have been no discoveries outside Boot Hill so far, the search radius is 3 acres out of 159 in the large Dozier property.
Wade said the accounts of survivors, families, staff and historical documents lead USF researchers to believe there are likely more undiscovered graves somewhere.
“There’s a ton of property left to explore,” she said.
To look for clandestine graves, Erin Kimmerle and her USF team use ground-penetrating radar to look for grave shafts hidden underneath the ground’s surface.
Though the radar has yet to lead to any discoveries on the South Campus, Wade said researchers would continue to explore the property until at least August when USF’s access to the site is set to expire.
The Florida Cabinet, which issued a land use agreement separate from FBAR’s permit, will decide whether to let researchers continue their search.
Wade said the USF team believes there are other regions of interest, even if no graves are found in the current search area.
“We got boys buried with no gravestones,” she said. “Our goal is to bring these children home to their families so they can bury them in a way they feel appropriate.
If more bodies are found, USF will work with law enforcement to collect DNA and track down relatives.
Wade said there is information that researchers are not yet ready to disclose to the public, but will be presented to the Florida Cabinet next month.
USF will issue a final public report in January.