|Dozier School Cemetery prior to its destruction|
by the University of South Florida.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
No evidence of murders by staff members at Dozier School: USF final report is released
The University of South Florida (USF) has submitted its final report on the "Boot Hill" Cemetery at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna to the Florida Cabinet.
No physical evidence was found to support claims that employees of the former state facility killed any of the students buried in the little cemetery.
No evidence of a mysterious "second cemetery" - a theory widely promoted by the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and other major news outlets - was found.
No evidence of "hidden burials" was found in any of the dozens of locations pointed out by former students of the school, many of whom call themselves the "White House Boys."
The only "projectile" found in association with any of the graves was a small bb-size piece of lead. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department previously said there was no evidence the individual in this grave was shot and suggested that the item could have been in his pocket. Analysis confirmed this assessment. The item could not be positively identified as a projectile at all, but was consistent in size with a buckshot from a black powder muzzle-loading firearm. These types of weapons were antiques by the time the Florida Reform School (later Dozier School for Boys) was even built.
The only verifiable murders that took place at the school were those of Robert Stephens, Earl Wilson and Eddie Black. All three were murdered by other students who were arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison for the murders.
USF said it was not able to view documentation about the 1966 drowning of Alphonse Glover in the school swimming pool. This statement is inaccurate as the coroner's report on Glover's death was among the documents in my possession that I offered to let researchers examine. They refused to look.
So far, USF has positively identified only seven of the bodies that it dug up from the school cemetery. The total cost of the project was nearly $700,000. The names of the others are mostly known and are consistent with the report completed by FDLE prior to the beginning of the USF project. DNA analysis is still pending and may determine the identifies of seven of the other bodies.
The report indicates that USF found three more graves than it can account for by name. The school, however, missed four deaths known to be associated with Dozier School. Three of these (2 students and one employee) took place prior to 1910. The fourth, of a male employee, took place during the influenza outbreak of 1918. Since one of these individuals is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Marianna, the other three could and probably do account for the three additional graves found by the university at the school cemetery. This information was offered to USF researchers but they refused to review it.
The school has no money to rebury the 51 bodies that it exhumed.
So in the end it comes down to this simple fact: The Dozier School Cemetery ("Boot Hill") is gone. No evidence of murders by staff was found. There was no mysterious second cemetery.
The USF report concludes with social justice language about "restorative justice," etc., and brags that the project generated news stories reaching an estimated 1.18 billion people around the world.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will have the final say on the cemetery, likely sometime in February. So far, there has been no indication that the state agency will draw any different conclusions about the nature of the graves.
If you would like to read the real story of the Dozier School Cemetery now that the vast majority of the media coverage has been discredited, please consider my book: Death at Dozier School: The Attempted Assassination of an American City (available in Paperback and Kindle formats).