Breaking: First remains exhumed at Dozier - WFLA News Channel 8

Breaking: First remains exhumed at Dozier

Posted: Updated:
MARIANNA, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa researchers have started exhuming the first human remains from unmarked graves at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

"The very small part we've seen so far, I would characterize them as large bone fragments or large pieces of bones," said Christian Wells, associate professor of anthropology at USF.

Wells said it appears the body was likely wrapped in a shroud in the 1920s or 30s because of brass pins they found with those remains.

"There's evidence that there, in this one case, was most likely a coffin of some kind," Wells said.

That's because researchers found evidence of burial hardware as well, which are things like hinges on coffins.

This is happening in an area that contains 4 to 6 unmarked burial shafts. It took researchers hours Saturday morning to use picks and shovels to get through the black, thick top soil. But once they made it to the sand, silt and clay beneath that this afternoon, they made the discovery.

"Excavation now that we're through the top soil is going to proceed much more quickly," Wells said.

Researchers believe there could be about 50 remains altogether that aren't identified by markings.

"Having done all this prep work and background work – we have a good sense of what's there," said Erin Kimmerle, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida.

"We approached this with the goal of identifying every one," Kimmerle said.

But she knows that likely won't be the case.

Researchers have DNA information for 10 families who never had firm answers as to how their boys died at the campus for juvenile delinquents.

"[In] a lot of these cases – the children just disappeared," said Tananarive Due, whose great uncle could be buried on these grounds.

Due's uncle was Robert Stephens, who died in Marianna in 1937.

"[His] official cause of death was a stabbing by another inmate…that's what it was listed as" Due said. "But what happened with a lot of these boys –who knows … how they died? That's one of the things I'll hope we'll be able to learn by studying the bones."

If researchers are able to identify Robert Stephens' remains, Due says her family would like to take them back to their family cemetery so he could rest in peace.

"That would be a great sense of homecoming," she said. "Families never had a proper opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones."

 

  • NewsMore>>

  • Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

    Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:32 AM EDT2014-04-20 13:32:48 GMT
    Pope Francis is celebrating Christianity's most joyous day, Easter Sunday, under sunny skies in St. Peter's Square.
    Marking Christianity's most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the...
  • Marijuana firm purchases buildings in Manatee County

    Marijuana firm purchases buildings in Manatee County

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:31 AM EDT2014-04-20 13:31:04 GMT
    Registered voters in Florida vote on the issue in November. Registered voters in Florida vote on the issue in November.
    A publicly traded firm that appears to be positioning itself in advance of a medical marijuana vote in Florida later this year has acquired a trio of industrial buildings just north of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.The Herald-Tribune reports that Cannabis Rx is believed to have recently paid roughly $1.2 million for the 9.26-acre property.
    A publicly traded firm that appears to be positioning itself in advance of a medical marijuana vote in Florida later this year has acquired a trio of industrial buildings just north of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.The Herald-Tribune reports that Cannabis Rx is believed to have recently paid roughly $1.2 million for the 9.26-acre property.
  • Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation

    Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:52 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:52:42 GMT
    The confirmed death toll from South Korea's ferry disaster rose past 50 on Sunday as divers finally found a way inside the sunken vessel, quickly discovering more than a dozen bodies in what almost certainly is...
    A transcript released Sunday shows the South Korean ferry that sank was crippled with confusion and indecision well after it began listing dangerously, possibly adding to a death toll that is officially at 58 but could...
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Arcadia dog set on fire improving, could be released early

    Arcadia dog set on fire improving, could be released early

    Tuesday, April 1 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-04-02 03:26:55 GMT
    "Hope" was doused with kerosene and set on fire. BluePearl Veterinary photo"Hope" was doused with kerosene and set on fire. BluePearl Veterinary photo
    A 1-year-old DeSoto County dog that was set on fire is improving and could be released from 24-hour care to a primary care veterinarian next week.
    A 1-year-old DeSoto County dog that was set on fire is improving and could be released from 24-hour care to a primary care veterinarian next week.
  • Trending: World's most haunted island up for auction

    Trending: World's most haunted island up for auction

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:17 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:17:05 GMT
    Poveglia. Image Wikimedia CommonsPoveglia. Image Wikimedia Commons
     A small "haunted" island off the coast of Italy near Venice will hit the auction block in May.
    A small "haunted" island off the coast of Italy near Venice will hit the auction block in May.
  • News Channel 8's set teardown and rebuild

    News Channel 8's set teardown and rebuild

    Monday, March 31 2014 2:04 PM EDT2014-03-31 18:04:05 GMT
    We're excited to announce the construction of a brand new set here at News Channel 8!
    We're excited to announce the construction of a brand new set here at News Channel 8!
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.