Tallahassee, Fla. — A report says a company doing pollution cleanup at a shuttered Florida reform school may have found more graves of the nearly 100 boys estimated to have died there. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Geosyntec told the Florida Department of Environmental Protection last month that a subcontractor using ground-penetrating radar found 27 so-called anomalies that could be unmarked graves near the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.
Permanently closed since 2011, the school near Marianna, some 60 miles west of Tallahassee, garnered a lasting reputation for brutality that has haunted former inmates and the families of the boys who died while incarcerated there. University of South Florida (USF) researchers have previously documented 55 graves near the school, though they estimate nearly 100 boys died there between 1900 and 1973.
The Tampa Bay Times and other local media reported extensively on alleged abuse, neglect and mysterious and suspicious deaths at the school during that time span.
USF researcher Dr. Erin Kimmerle, whose team led the effort to search for and exhume the dead on the property after the Florida state legislature approved the plan in 2013, said the new anomalies are a "a real mystery" because another burial ground isn't supported in the historical record.
"From a forensic and archaeological perspective, additional fieldwork is critically important to establish if these are in fact burials, the actual number, and context," Kimmerle told CBS News in an email.
Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter Wednesday to Florida agencies directing them to work with Jackson County officials "to develop a path forward," according to the paper. The governor's office fielded a request for the letter from CBS News Friday but couldn't immediately provide a copy.
Of the 51 sets of remains previously exhumed, seven have been positively identified and 15 have been presumptively identified, Kimmerle said. Historical records indicate the body of another boy was sent to Philadelphia, but those remains were never found, according to Kimmerle.
CBS News in 2013 reported on the search for the dead at the Dozier school in a four-part Web series. Read the entire series here.
- The Search for the Dead, Part 1: Families of boys who died at shuttered Dozier juvenile detention facility seek answers
- The Search for the Dead, Part 2: Former inmates at shuttered Dozier juvenile detention facility detail alleged abuse
- The Search for the Dead, Part 3: Victims of alleged abuse at shuttered Dozier juvenile detention facility push for justice
- The Search for the Dead, Part 4: Exhumation of bodies set to begin at shuttered Dozier juvenile detention facility