Tuesday, January 28, 2014

USF confirms: No Mass Grave at Dozier School Cemetery

Memorial area at Dozier School Cemetery
BREAKING NEWS:  Tampa and Hillsborough County authorities beat, tortured and killed prisoners during same era as Dozier School allegations. Click here to read about the Tampa Atrocities

In a press conference this morning in Tampa, employees of the University of South Florida (USF) confirmed that the number of graves found at the Dozier School Cemetery matched exactly the number provided by me and others in the community.

The media all day has been claiming that researchers found "24 more graves than should be there."  That is categorically false. They found exactly the number of graves that documentation indicates should be there.

The university, which has spent more than $600,000 in taxpayer funds to dig up the historic cemetery at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, FL, confirmed this morning that it had found 55 graves in the cemetery.

I tried to provide the university with evidence of 55 graves at the cemetery, but its employees refused to meet with me.

For more than 18 months, I have indicated that I believed there were "approximately 53 bodies there" (quote from the Tampa Bay Times, 4/13/2013). On September 22 of last year, I provided the university's legal office with documentation of 2 additional deaths at the school from the years prior to 1906, bringing the total to 55. University researchers never responded.

Artifact left behind in tracks of USF vehicle.
In October of last year, at the request of individuals from the local historic preservation trust, I loaded my documentation up and carried it to Marianna so the team from USF could go through it. It included clear evidence of 55 known graves in the cemetery. Even though USF had requested that the local group provide it access to any information available on the cemetery, its researchers refused to meet with me or examine the documentation I was making available to them.

It raised a question that remains unanswered today. What kind of scientist or professional researcher, being paid with taxpayer money to find the truth about the cemetery, would not examine a box containing thousands of pages of documentation?  You can answer that question for yourself.

Today's announcement by USF confirms an article I posted here on December 29, 2013: No Mass Grave at Dozier School Cemetery. There was no mass grave at the Dozier School Cemetery. In fact, claims by one former student that more than 150 graves would be found there, the university's announcement now confirms, have been proved to be completely false.

Memorial at Dozier before its destruction by project.
USF today did not comment on the causes of death for the individuals it dug up, more than 80% of them without the permission of their families and next of kin, but we already know that answer too: they died of sickness, in a tragic fire, in a couple of accidents - or were murdered by other students.

I said in early 2013 that if no bodies of students murdered by employees - as some have claimed - were found at the school, then employees of USF would owe the people of Marianna and Jackson County an apology. I predict, however, that no apology from them will ever come.

They say they will continue to search and dig in what is now becoming a clearly desperate effort to find more graves. Let them dig, but in my opinion no more public money should be provided to them once they have finished spending the more than $600,000 they have already been given.

I hope they can find the families of those known to be buried in the cemetery. It would be a shame if  80% of the bodies they dug up without first taking the time to do so are just thrown back in a hole with nothing but a number.  How is that an improvement?  Regardless, hopefully they can find the families that do not know they need closure so they can "give them closure" as they have promised.

1947 map showing original cemetery fence.
The media continues to try to spin the story, but to its credit USF timed the press conference well. By tomorrow, most likely, the news about Dozier will be lost in coverage of tonight's State of the Union speech and the big winter storm.

The media also continues to show its inability to understand that the little area at the school with metal crosses and a cable around them was a memorial, not the actual cemetery. The actual cemetery - once surrounded by a wire fence, portions of which were found in spoil piles left behind by USF - enclosed a somewhat larger area of around 50 by 100 feet. All of the graves found were inside the line of the original cemetery fence, not "outside the cemetery" as some media outlets have already claimed today.

Apparently they either can't understand that simple fact or they are lying to save their reputations.

 As far as Marianna and Jackson County are concerned, our community has been vindicated. The media will never say that and USF will never say that, but we know it and we can hold our heads a bit higher today.

I wish only peace and happiness to all involved in this fiasco.


Mitchell Whitehead said...

The people of our county deserve an apology from USF. That is very disrespectful of them to squander that much tax-payer money in search of unfounded rumors.

Anonymous said...

I would like my apology from the naacp, as I am sure that stick did the most stirring.

Anonymous said...

No mass graves huh?
County deserves an apology huh?

55 graves found, some even under a road.

So if 55 isn't enough what constitutes mass graves in your fine county that turned it's back on the abuse that went on for what? 100 years?


Dale Cox said...

Yes, Jackson County deserves an apology.

No mass grave was found at Dozier School. All bodies were buried in individual graves in coffins and given proper religious ceremonies.

None of these graves have anything to do with allegations of abuse at the school. If you have some real evidence that they do, present it?

I'm running your one anonymous comment. In the future, have the courage to use your name.


Anonymous said...

Fair article, Dale.
I am an anthropology student, concentrating in archaeology, at the University of Alabama (Birmingham). I have been following this story and wish to say that you make a very important point about USF disregarding your documentation. Secondly, I would like to say that it goes against the goal of archaeology to put "shovel to dirt" without first pouring through all available maps, historical documents, and quite often, listening to local voices. A good archaeologists digs last and only if it's deemed necessary, especially when burials are involved. A lot of individuals may disagree with me, but our goal is to present solid facts. What we're seeing today is a number of individuals pumping out a "romanticized archaeology" that draws mass public attention.
I wish you, and the citizens of Jackson County, well.

Sebrinia Davis said...

Yes Jackson County deserves an apology but as you stated that will never happen. If you presented evidence of 55 graves and 55 graves are what the USF found and then desecrated by digging them up then they do need to apologize to Jackson County and Marianna. But, You know what happens when someone gets a bee in their bonnet.. they just keep buzzing and stirring the pot.

Daniel Spencer said...

You as an historian, should be more than willing to want more investigating on this tragedy, rather than trying to preserve the pristine beauty of Jackson County by sweeping any dirt under the rug.

Carrie Kelley said...

Wow, Really? I suggest you read the article from the Tampa Bay Times AGAIN. Let me guess - You're a White guy who can't imagine that there was remotely any wrongdoing going on in the South. Read again -- "Only 13 were found in the area marked as a cemetery with pipe crosses..." "They also found remains under a road, under a tree and spread throughout surrounding forest." Among the unidentified remains -- many of which appear to have been unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths..."
Those descriptions sound much like a mass grave to me. Willfull ignorance much?

Dale Cox said...

Carrie, Even USF agrees that there was a larger fence around the original cemetery. I suggest you ask them if it was a "mass grave" and see what they say? Do not confuse media hype with the truth, which is sadly what too many people are doing. The Tampa Bay Times is spinning what actually was found. What actually was found were individual graves, all in coffins, all buried according to standard religious practices and all within the original cemetery fence. The area with the crosses, as noted in the post on which you are commenting, was a memorial, not the actual cemetery.


Anonymous said...

USF wasted $600,000. The problem is, too many universities all over America are wasting money. So much research is just a way for PhDs and universities to find ways to spend somebody else's money.

Bruce C. said...

Dale, an old saying goes, "Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still." People love to hunt a problem and hunt clandestine situations without having the foggiest idea about the truth.

Bob Wick said...

Dale, who ever said there would be mass graves found? These children were murdered one at a time. So they will be and have been found in individual graves. And remember 3 murders by one man makes a serial killer.

Dale Cox said...

Bob, The answer to your question regarding "whoever said there would be mass graves found?" is simple: The White House Boys. On December 8, 2008, a prepared statement released by The White House Boys Survivors Organization labeled the Dozier School Cemetery as a "mass grave site" and noted an expectation there were "more mass graves surrounding the facility."

In addition to the White House Boys themselves, numerous media outlets - including ABC, NBC, CBS, The Daily Mail and others - have used the term "mass grave" with regard to the Dozier School Cemetery.

I am pleased to learn, however, that you agree all such claims were and are false.

With regard to your allegations of murders at the school, if you have actual evidence of murders at the school you should immediately provide it to law enforcement and stop impeding justice. If you do not have any real evidence - which seems to be the case with all such claims - please just admit it.

Dale Cox

Bob Wick said...

Evidence? Evidence apparently could fall out of the sky, land on your face and wiggle and you still would deny it was there!!

Dale Cox said...

Bob, I will let your personal attack pass. They seem to be a typical tactic and I've gotten used to them.I

I answered your question about who had claimed there were "mass graves" at Dozier by providing a direct quote from a White House Boys press conference. I note that you did not respond to that in your latest comment.

And I again suggest that if you have real evidence of murders at the school (or anywhere else), you should provide that evidence to law enforcement. Otherwise you are preventing families of victims from having closure.


Bob Wick said...

Dale..... Thank you for letting me know who claimed there was a mass grave there..... obviously there are people and organizations which do not know the definition of mass grave and have misused the phrase. Their misuse of the words in no way changes what has been found out there at the site. It surely does not change the past. Your capitalizing on some else's misuse of the words for whatever reason you have is distasteful to me.

Dale Cox said...

Bob, You should consider that fact that me and other residents of this area have been subjected to an onslaught of "mass grave" claims int he media. There is a difference between "capitalizing" and setting the record straight.

I find it bizarre that when claims about are community are proved to be false, if we say anything at all we are accused of "capitalizing." Let me be very clear, no one in our community is seeking money off this fiasco. We aren't the ones "capitalizing."

The facts about the cemetery are clear. There was no "mass grave" and thus far USF has produced no evidence of murders of students by staff. Those are the real facts as they stand today. You wouldn't know that from the media, which most definitely has capitalized on false claims surrounding the cemetery.


Dale Cox said...

Too many typos in my last post. Tablets are not made for typing.

Bob Wick said...

Would you please post your 55 names online along with other info like age....cause of death...race etc....

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see some of your facts. The papers I have read outside Marianna actually claim all 55 people were black.

Bob Wick said...

It would be nice to see some of your facts. The papers I have read outside Marianna actually claim all 55 people were black.

Dale Cox said...

Bob, I have no problem doing that and will post them tomorrow. I don't pay attention to race so I will have to insert that information for you, but you will find that white, black, Hispanic and possibly Seminole Indian individuals are included.

Dale Cox said...

Bob, There is no need to post the same thing over and over. Comments to this blog go through moderation before appearing due to previous issues with people posting obscenities and threats.

The individuals buried in the cemetery are most definitely not all of one race. You are referring to inaccurate reports in the media. USF and FDLE both concluded that individuals of various races were buried there.

My list has never been a secret and was provided to the Attorney General's office and offered to USF and the media before the dig ever began. It is a shame they didnt take it and confirm the information because they would have saved more than $600,000 in taxpayer money.

I will post the list tomorrow for you after adding a column with the racia data you requested.


Dale Cox said...

Bob, Here is the link to the list you requested: