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Researchers To Return To Dozier School, Keep Up Search For More Graves

Sascha Cordner

Forensic experts plan to conduct a radar sweep of the grounds at a notorious Panhandle reform school where survivors remain convinced bodies of long-lost boys are still concealed. State officials provided an update Monday on an investigation into the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Jackson County. 

University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle says her team intends to return to the property next month to conduct Light Imaging Detection and Ranging tests. She says there is no timeline for the latest tests on the 1,400 acre site, where the remains of 50 people were unearthed in 2015 at a location known as Boot Hill.

“The real challenge is that we don’t have a list of missing persons that we are still looking for. In fact, the work that we did at Boot Hill resulted in more bodies than names already. That is what makes it kind of a shot in the dark.”

The tests follow a search earlier this summer in one portion of the site where 27 “anomalies” had been detected. Each of those anomalies turned out such things as tree roots from a previously removed pine forest.

Former Dozier students, including Charles Fudge, remain convinced officials will find more bodies.

“I was thrilled that they did not find any additional bodies. I was thrilled about that. My concern was that it went real fast. It did not go the way the others were exhumed, and was something missed?” He asked.

More than 500 former Dozier students have alleged brutal beatings, mental abuse and sexual abuse at the school, which closed in 2011 after 111 years of operation.