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Sixth Family Reunited With Remains Of Loved One Buried On Dozier Grounds

Aimee Blodgett
USF News
Dr. Erin Kimmerle speaking about the latest research at the now closed Dozier School for Boys.

A sixth family has now been reunited with the remains of their loved one buried on the troubled Panhandle property of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. University of South Florida Researchers looking into finding answers for more families also got an extension to continue their work until January of next year.

On Tuesday, lead USF researcher Erin Kimmerle announced she and her team have positively identified Robert Stephens by matching his DNA with that of his living nephew with the same name. In 1936, Stephens was sentenced to two years for breaking and entering. But, almost a year into his sentence, the school’s records state Stephens was stabbed to death by another inmate. Still, Robert Straley says no matter the circumstances, these boys deserve a proper burial.

“It’s as important as starting this thing that we end it correctly, that this doesn’t end up on a dusty shelf somewhere in the USF library. But, there’s a memorial where people can go to and physically touch it, you know, and see it and remember this happened. I mean boys were flogged for 68 years at this school and most of them were under the age of 12,” said Straley.

Straley is one of the so-called White House Boys, who say they survived the abuse at the school. Meanwhile, a reburial plan is in the works. A final report is also due January 2016.

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.