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Exhumations set to begin at Florida reform school

Aug. 28, 2013 at 4:31 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Men who were imprisoned in a Florida reform school as teenagers hope exhumations at an old graveyard will shed some light on what happened there.

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, which opened on Jan. 1, 1900, and closed in 2011, was notorious for the rough treatment given its inmates. Men who spent time there say the old cemetery may hold the bodies of boys killed by guards, the Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday.

Records show 29 boys and two men were buried in the cemetery. But researchers from the University of Southern Florida who used radar to search the area found 50 possible graves, some of them in the woods outside the actual cemetery.

The 31 crosses in the graveyard do not mark actual grave sites. They were placed in 1996 by a former superintendent.

Forensic anthropologists from USF are scheduled to begin excavation Saturday. The university received a $423,528, grant from the U.S. Justice Department to help pay for the work along with $190,000 from the state of Florida.

Scientists hope to identify any remains found using DNA testing.

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