Dozier

Researchers say they have positively identified the remains of a 15-year-old boy who died at a Florida reform school where guards were accused of brutality throughout its troubled history.

University of South Florida anthropologist Erin Kimmerle said Tuesday the remains of Robert Stephens, who died in 1937, were positively identified. According to his death certificate, the teen was stabbed to death. His DNA was matched with his nephew.

Anthropologists found the remains of 51 people buried at the school.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson has asked the Department of Justice - and not Florida law enforcement officials - to open an investigation into the Dozier School for Boys.

In 2009, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing at the now closed Marianna reform school, despite decades of allegations of abuse of students by school officials.

University of South Florida researchers will announce Thursday afternoon that they've determined the identities of two more sets of remains buried on the grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

The Ledger and a release from Senator Bill Nelson's office say that one is Thomas Varnadoe, 13, who died in 1934, a month after arriving at Dozier.

  It's taken University of South Florida researchers more than three years to provide one family with an answer they've been looking for, for more than 70 years.

The researchers uncovered remains from 55 unmarked graves on the grounds of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna last year.  DNA testing has identified one set as belonging to George Owen Smith, who's believed to have died at age 14 -- shortly after being sent to the Florida Panhandle school in 1940.

55 Bodies Discovered at Dozier School for Boys

Jan 29, 2014

Work by University of South Florida researchers on a graveyard at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, is starting to pay dividends, and unlocking new mysteries.

Project leader, USF Associate Professor of Anthropology Erin Kimmerle, says her team has located and excavated the remains of 55 people - some of whom may have died under mysterious circumstances during the reform school's 100-year history.

That's five more bodies than previous research had indicated might be there and 24 more burials than official school records showed should be there.

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