USF Researchers Identify First Set Of Remains From Dozier's Unmarked Graves

Aug 7, 2014

Ovell Smith Krell, 85, speaking during a press conference in Tampa, about hearing the news USF researchers identified her brother's remains.
Credit Florida Channel

A team of researchers say they’ve identified the first set of unearthed remains on the property of the now-defunct Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. It’s the first move towards closure one family has received, and some say it’s about time.

At a Tampa press conference, lead University of South Florida Researcher Erin Kimmerle announced her team had made their first positive DNA match in 14-year-old George Owen Smith, whose last known location was Dozier about 70 years ago. The match came from his now 85-year-old sister Ovell Smith Krell, who says she was surprised when she heard the news.

“At first, I was totally speechless, and I really didn’t know whether to believe it,” said Krell.

Robert Straley says he too was surprised by the news, but he’s just glad the process to bring closure to the families searching for answers can begin.

“Of course, the importance of them finding this boy’s body after 74 years, I believe it was, means that anybody in there has a shot of finding their loved ones as well,” said Straley.

Straley is one of the so-called White House Boys, who say they survived abuse at the North Florida school. He says he’s happy that state officials agreed to extend the permit for the researchers to continue their work until early August of next year. USF Researchers have so far uncovered the remains of 55 bodies.

Stay tuned to Friday's Capital Report for more on this story!

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