Florida Senator Bill Nelson is demanding action and answers concerning a notorious school for boys.
The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna Florida closed in 2011. It was once called a reform school, then the Florida School for Boys. Senator Nelson says the school opened at the site in 1903.
Throughout it's history, hundreds of boys were sent to the school, many for very minor crimes. An F.D.L.E. Investigation discovered nearly one hundred young men may have died at the school from 1914 through 1973. Many of the deaths were undocumented and Senator Nelson believes many more deaths may be discovered.
Robert Straley of Clearwater says he was sent to the school as a thirteen year old in 1963. Straley says he was severely beaten on several occasions. He says he also witnessed the beatings of other boys while he was there.
Straley says soon after he arrived, he was accused of plotting to run away along with other boys. Straley says they were taken to a building and beaten. Straley says he can still remember the horrific screams of the other boys as they were beaten. When it was his turn, he couldn't believe he was being hit so hard. "I turned over to see what this guy was hitting me with and saw a whip in his hand. It looked like one of those old razor straps," Staley says. After the beating he was black and blue and bleeding, he recalled.
84-year old Ovell Krell says her brother was taken to the school as a young man in 1943. She says he never returned. Krell says her brother apparently tried to run away from the home. She says her mother was told that his body was discovered under a home in Marianna. The family was told the body was so badly decomposed, he had to be identified from the number on his shirt. Krell doesn't believe it. She says another boy at the school told the family he had been shot running away from the school. Mrs. Krell says there is not record of his death and his grave has never been found at the school.
A team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida recently discovered a number of unmarked graves at the school. The U.S.F. Team wants more time and money to explore for more graves.
The state of Florida is seeking to sell the property where the school was located. Senator Nelson has sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott, asking for the sale to be postponed.
Nelson also wants the U.S.F. Team to continue their work to find where boys at the school were buried.
Nelson says, "I want to find out where the graves are, I want them exhumed, I want them examined and I want to see if potential crimes have been committed."
Nelson wants the criminal investigation into deaths at the school reopened, he believes some of those responsible for the deaths may still be alive and he wants those people brought to justice.