Florida denies Dozier exhumation - WFLA News Channel 8

Florida denies Dozier exhumation...for now

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

There's been another setback for those who believe there could be unidentified bodies on the grounds of an old Florida boys school.

Monday afternoon University of South Florida researchers learned Florida's Department of State will not give them permits to exhume remains at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, an old reform school where past inmates have made claims of abuse and possibly even murder.

7/10/2013 Related Story: USF professor submits more evidence for Dozier exhumation

"I understand the importance of telling the story of the Dozier School and recognize that the significance is all the more poignant for those whose loved ones may be laid to rest on the school grounds," said Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner in a letter to Dr. Erin Kimmerle of the USF Anthropology department."If there is reason to believe that crimes were committed at Dozier School, I share the deep concern that the truth be discovered."

But Detzner said he's unable to give the green light to exhume the remains.

3/12/2013 Related Story: Pam Bondi filed petition for Dozier School cemetery exhumation

"The Department of State does not have the statutory authority to fulfill your request," Detzner wrote. "The [Bureau of Archeological Research]'s existing statutory authority to grant archaeological research permits is restricted to the recovery of objects of historical or archeological value, not human remains, absent a danger to the grave site that actually threatens the loss or damage of those remains. To the contrary, the law presumes that buried human remains will rest undisturbed, and allows their intentional disinterment only in narrowly defined circumstances for which specific procedures are provided in law."

5/2/2013 Related Story: Bay area man wants bodies at Dozier identified

USF researchers believe there could be as many as 50 unmarked graves on the school campus; maybe more. But the head researcher on the case, Dr. Kimmerle, asked the Bureau of Archeological Research for permits to excavate human remains. They had initially granted her access around the Boot Hill Cemetery to "facilitate efforts to identify and protect human burials." That included surface-level research to determine the location of grave sites in order to preserve the cemetery "as a valuable historical resource for Florida and surviving family members."

A spokesperson for USF points out the newest development isn't an out-right denial, just the state saying the Bureau of Archeological Research doesn't have jurisdiction to give the green-light for exhumations. USF staff will meet with their counsel Tuesday to figure out what their next step should be.

The state's current action makes some family members suspicious.

"I think there's a lot of stuff going on that they don't want know,"said Bobby Stephens, whose uncle died at the school in 1937. "If I don't have anything to hide, I don't have any problem showing you my phone, my books, my records...my computer. I don't have anything on it so go ahead - go through it. They should feel the same way."

Stephens was one of three who gave DNA samples at USF in June, hoping Kimmerle could match their DNA with the remains her team eventually exhumed.

"People want to know about their loved ones," Stephens said. "I think whatever you do in the dark will come into the light. It may not happen this year...next year ... But I think we have a bunch of quality people working and it's out in the public now and the fight's going to continue."

The Dozier School for Boys closed in 2011.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:02:23 GMT
    File Photo: Nick CongletonFile Photo: Nick Congleton
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
  • Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:55 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:55:41 GMT
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breachHome Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breach
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:45 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:45:21 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Suspect who ran over Palm Harbor security guard to turn himself in says attorney

    Suspect who ran over Palm Harbor security guard to turn himself in says attorney

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-09-03 01:59:51 GMT
    The suspect was involved in an altercation inside the establishment just before 3 am Friday.The suspect was involved in an altercation inside the establishment just before 3 am Friday.
    The man who investigators say intentionally ran over a security guard at a Palm Harbor nightclub early Friday morning will turn himself in on Wednesday according to his attorney, Barry Cohen.
    The man who investigators say intentionally ran over a security guard at a Palm Harbor nightclub early Friday morning will turn himself in on Wednesday according to his attorney, Barry Cohen.
  • Online business complaint lands Sarasota woman and BBB in lawsuit

    Online business complaint lands Sarasota woman and BBB in lawsuit

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:46:44 GMT
    Can you be sued over your online complaint about a company? That's what happened to Sarah Kessler, of Sarasota.
    Can you be sued over your online complaint about a company? That's what happened to Sarah Kessler, of Sarasota.
  • Is your data safe in Apple’s iCloud?

    Is your data safe in Apple’s iCloud?

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:04:56 GMT
    Hackers gained access to celebrities private pictures including nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence. Apple says it has fixed a security flaw but cybersecurity experts say anyone can become a victim.“Anybody can get hacked.
    Hackers gained access to celebrities private pictures including nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence. Apple says it has fixed a security flaw but cybersecurity experts say anyone can become a victim.“Anybody can get hacked.
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.