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USF Researchers To Start Exhuming Bodies At Dozier Saturday

University of South Florida

Researchers are expected to start digging up the bodies buried on the grounds of the Dozier School for Boys at the end of the week.  Several families have been waiting years to get closure about their loved ones believed to have died from abuse at the now-closed reform school.

It could take awhile before University of South Florida researchers find the remains of the boys on the grounds of the Marianna school, but they’re expected to start the exhumations this upcoming weekend during a four-day period. Researchers have already found about 50 unmarked graves at Dozier, and hope to dig up those graves to give closure to some of the relatives of the boys. That includes Glen Varnadoe, who’s hoping the researchers will find the remains of his uncle Thomas…

“…who died there in 1934, after only being there for some 38 days at the institution. By the number of burials that are there, they’re obviously going to find other people, but if he [Thomas] would be the first one, I’d be ecstatic, I could close that chapter in my life and move on,” said Glen.

Researchers recently received unanimous approval from Governor Rick Scott and the rest of the Florida Cabinet members to exhume the bodies for one year. The first of the digs will begin this Labor Day Weekend, starting Saturday morning and lasting until Tuesday.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.