Researchers from the University of South Florida have wrapped up a four-day dig for human remains at a former reform school in the panhandle.
The researchers are now turning their attention to analyzing and identifying the remains of two boys exhumed, in hopes of determining how they died. The remains will be brought to Tampa, where they’ll be studied.
A team of 25 researchers and graduate students from USF wrapped up a long weekend of excavating a burial site at the former state-run Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla.
IMAGES: USF holds 4-day dig for remains
The dental remains of two boys they found, during the first phase of the dig, suggest they were 10 to 13 years old and are among at least 50 bodies buried there.
"More information we can write up a little narrative about that individual and send samples off for DNA testing,” said Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle.
Questions have been asked for years about whether boys, who at the time were said to be victims of pneumonia and other natural causes, were killed by staff at the school.
“A lot of things transpired here that need to be reconsidered and looked at.. A lot of things that need to be brought to surface,” said John Bonner.
Bonner attended Dozier School for Boys in 1967.
Literally bringing the past to the surface is what these researchers will do for the next year. Horror stories from inmates that said they were beaten at what was called the "white house" at the school, sparked the investigation in 2008.
During their first dig, researchers also found coffin hardware and wood in the unmarked graves. Plans are in the works to prepare for a longer dig this fall.
"We've got to have power and water and sewer and lights. We've got to have everything you would need to operate for over a month,” said Larry Bedore with the Florida Emergency Mortuary Response team.
Researchers will be back at the campus over the next year to search for other forgotten former students. Their goal is to return any identified remains to loved ones.