Bay area man wants bodies at Dozier identified - WFLA News Channel 8

Bay area man wants bodies at Dozier identified

Posted: Updated:
Don Stratton says his days at the Dozier School for Boys haunt him 50 years later. Don Stratton says his days at the Dozier School for Boys haunt him 50 years later.

In 1958, 13-year-old Don Stratton thought he'd found paradise. At least it was better than jail, where he spent the last six months, for running away from home.

"When I got there I thought 'wow what a nice place. What a nice campus,'" Stratton said.

It didn't take long to see the dark side of the Dozier School For Boys, a reform school in Marianna, FL.

"After I was there for a short period of time I realized how they kept it so beautiful," Stratton said. "They just tortured, beat, and abused these children. They had no fences but they had men that controlled the lives of young children."

Stratton learned to fear a building called "the White House" on campus. He watched as inmates would walk up to the house and crawl out.

He vividly remembers the first day school officials beat him in the house.

"When he hit me with that strap he beat me, and beat me, and told me just to lay there, and take it," Stratton said.

Stratton told News Channel 8 unimaginable stories of beatings, sexual abuse, and even murder. He says he watched his friend Billy walk in "the White House" but didn't see him walk out.

"They beat him to death. They killed him. They murdered him," Stratton said. "They beat him to death. He was 10 years old."

The school closed in 2011 and now USF researchers say there are as many as 50 unidentified bodies buried on campus.

Senator Bill Nelson and Attorney General Pam Bondi are trying to get the bodies exhumed and identified.

Now, 68 years old, Stratton says those three years at Dozier have sabotaged the rest of his life. He started a group called "the White House Boys" and together they're determined to push politicians to identify the bodies.

"The bodies that are buried under those crosses haunt me today," Stratton said. "They are crying out for justice and this needs to be solved."

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:15 AM EDT2014-08-29 11:15:46 GMT
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
  • NewsMore>>

  • Thief steals lawn equipment from struggling Spring Hiill family

    Thief steals lawn equipment from struggling Spring Hiill family

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:57 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:57:09 GMT
    Michael Depace says he was asleep when more than $3,500 worth of lawn equipment was stolen.Michael Depace says he was asleep when more than $3,500 worth of lawn equipment was stolen.
    A thief stole a trailer full of lawn equipment from a home in Spring Hill overnight on Wednesday.Michael Depace says he was asleep when more than $3,500 worth of lawn equipment was stolen.“I wanted to die. I really did,” he said.He used the lawn equipment to cut grass for free for people suffering from cancer and other serious health conditions.
    A thief stole a trailer full of lawn equipment from a home in Spring Hill overnight on Wednesday.Michael Depace says he was asleep when more than $3,500 worth of lawn equipment was stolen.“I wanted to die. I really did,” he said.He used the lawn equipment to cut grass for free for people suffering from cancer and other serious health conditions.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Ride sharing service Uber says Tampa Taxi companies don't want their competition

    Ride sharing service Uber says Tampa Taxi companies don't want their competition

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:41 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:41:28 GMT
    Daryl Rodgers is a driver for Uber and Lyft.Daryl Rodgers is a driver for Uber and Lyft.
    The ride sharing service Uber says traditional Taxi companies are trying to restrict competition in Tampa.Recently the Public Transportation Commission started giving tickets to drivers who are lot licensed to drive through the PTC." It's an abuse of power.
    The ride sharing service Uber says traditional Taxi companies are trying to restrict competition in Tampa.Recently the Public Transportation Commission started giving tickets to drivers who are lot licensed to drive through the PTC." It's an abuse of power.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.