Officials Set To Revisit Notorious Dozier School For Boys Reform School

Jun 25, 2019

Arthur G Dozier School For Boys grave sites
Credit University of South Florida

Further investigations into the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys are scheduled to start next month. This comes after the new state budget recently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis set aside more money for the project.

The notorious North Florida reform school is linked to decades of abuse.

Roy Conerly, who worked in the Dozier infirmary in 1961, recalls his horrific experiences.

“I saw things, you know. There was a guy that tried to kill himself, cut his wrists to keep from going to the white house where they beat ya.  They brought him back to the infirmary, sewed him up, took him back to the white house, and beat the hell out of him— then brought him back to the infirmary,” says Conerly.

“From the back of his knees up to the center of his up to the center of his back he was black, black and blue, and his thighs and his butt were split.”

The school closed in 2011. A report from NPR says at least 81 boys are known to have died there. In 2012, a team of University of South Florida researchers found 55 unmarked graves.

The case was presumed closed and researchers filed a final report. But earlier this year, scientists announced they found 27 new “anomalies” that appeared to be consistent with burial sites.

The new developments have prompted the state to continue investigations.  

“The Florida legislature allocated $850,000 during the past legislative session which we will use to fund the investigation of the recently discovered anomalies as well as conduct a survey of the entire property using LIDAR [Light Detection and Ranging],” said Timothy Parsons, Director of the Florida Division of Historical Resources. 

LIDAR uses lasers to detect anything that could be buried underground. Officials say depending on what scientists find, they could start new digging in the area.