TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The remains of 40 boys who died of suspected abuse at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna were reinterred in what will likely be their final resting place Saturday afternoon.
For more than ten years a group of survivors of the Dozier School for Boys, known as the White House Boys, have been fighting to expose abuses that plagued the school for more than 100 years.
Now the last of more than 50 unidentified boys unearthed at the school in 2015 have been reinterred in a Tallahassee Cemetery; far away from the grounds where they suffered unspeakable horrors.
“This is it. This is the most important part of it all," said Jerry Cooper, President of the White House Boys.
For many of the White House Boys, the burial was another step towards finding peace. “I’ve gotten closer. Not 100%, but I’m there. I’m getting closer," said James "Harley" DeNyke, who attended the school from 1964 to 1966.
"We’ve got 40 in the ground now that we don’t have to worry about anymore," said Pastor Johnny Lee Gaddy, who spent five years at Dozier from 1967 to 1971.
“[I] Very easily could have been one of these kids, but God spared me. I’m a survivor and I wish they had been too," said Cooper.
Each grave is marked with a number, in case any future attempts to identify the remains are successful families can be notified.
“These boys are gone, but they will never ever ever be forgotten," said Cooper.
Even as the final casket was lowered into the ground, survivors know their work isn’t finished.
Plans for a possible memorial at the State Capitol are in the works.
Many also believe there could be more than 100 boys still at Dozier, that have not been discovered.
The State Legislature issued an official apology for the atrocities committed at the Dozier School for Boys in 2017.
As part of the agreement, the state has covered the cost for the reentering the remains found at the school.
News Service of Florida