Decision to exhume bodies at Dozier nears - WFLA News Channel 8

Decision to exhume bodies at Dozier nears

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George Owen Smith, sent to Dozier in 1940 at age 13, never seen again. George Owen Smith, sent to Dozier in 1940 at age 13, never seen again.
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

The Florida Cabinet is set to discuss the former Dozier school of boys on Tuesday. The school was located in the Panhandle and operated as a reform school for decades in Florida.

Anthropologists at the University of South Florida say they have discovered a number of unmarked graves at the site.  They need permission from the state of Florida to exhume the graves.

7/22/2013 Related Story: Sen. Nelson critical of state response on Dozier

So far, the state of Florida has blocked the efforts of U.S.F. Anthropologist, Dr. Erin Kimmerle to exhume the graves at the school.

Dr. Kimmerle and her team say they have used ground penetrating radar at the site of the school and identified more than one hundred unmarked graves.

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

Dr. Kimmerle will be in Tallahassee for the discussion. She says the U.S.F. Team can begin work at Dozier later this month if they receive permission to excavate.

Lakeland resident Ovell Krell says he has been waiting for answers about the disappearance of her brother since 1940.  He was sent to Dozier and never seen again.

Krell says her brother was a born musician.  "He could walk into a music store and play any instrument he picked up. He ran away from home because he was a musician. He was born with music in his soul."

Krell says at the age of 13, her brother ran away and soon ran into trouble.  She remembers her brother meeting a 19 year old boy from Georgia and they were both accused of stealing a car.

Krell says, "The older boy said my brother stole the car and they wrecked it.  My brother didnt know to drive and I'm certain he did not steal the car."

Krell says her parents were never advised of a trial or even a hearing and her brother was sent to a reform school in Marianna, Florida in 1940.

The reform school would later be known as the Dozier school for boys.

Krell says her brother was beaten by guards at the school after he tried to run away.

"Back then, we got a letter from my brother and it was his handwriting, and he said, they brought me back and these words are just in my brain; he said, I got what was coming to me." says Krell.

Others who were sentenced to attend Dozier have testified in hearings that they too were beaten at the school.

Some say they witnessed some young boys beaten to death at the school, but the deaths were never reported.

Ovell Krell says, "I say to Governor Scott, the ball is in your court, you have the authority, you can do it, and everybody else has passed us up.  So, if there is any decency at all in our Governor tomorrow he will pass this."

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