Florida Reform School For ‘Troubled’ Boys Unearths Student Bodies in Basement
Just in time for Halloween comes a story so chilling that it sounds like a fictional horror story. Sadly, for too many of its students and their families, the nightmare that took place at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys was all too real.
The Los Angeles Times reports that authorities have recently uncovered several unmarked graves of what they believe to be former students of the school, located in the building’s basement. The school, located in town called Marianna in the Florida panhandle, operated for over 100 years before finally closing its doors in 2011. It was finally shut down by the state government over charges of abuse and negligence, but it’s only now, through the work of a few dedicated friends and survivors, that the extent of that abuse is coming to light.
Records indicate that between 1914 and 1973, 96 boys died at the school. Causes of death were listed as influenza and pneumonia, and there were eight students who burned to death in a locked dormitory. As for the others, researchers with the University of South Florida have uncovered approximately 50 buried bodies using sonar technology, and are attempting to unravel the mystery of what happened to these young men.
As the news has come to light, several witnesses have come forward to tell their stories of abuse at the school and the horrors that took place there. Students recall lashes with a leather strap, oftentimes more than 100 being doled out at a time, as well as brutal, bloody beatings. Several students reported that they were forced to dig graves for their fellow classmates.
The school was segregated until the late 1960s, and the beatings and abuse appear to be racially motivated, which is sure to stir up controversy in the community of Marianna, which has a history of violent racial tension.