As dozens of bodies are exhumed from old graves at a Florida reform school, researchers investigating the cases this week released a report on what they had found so far.
The horrifying report sheds light on decades of violence, abuse, rape and includes evidence of a ‘rape dungeons’ that were used to abuse and murder children, reported the Daily News
The Latest.com reports: Anthropologists from the University of South Florida are beginning to uncover the disturbing stories of children who were abused and murdered at Arthur G. Dozier School in Marianna. The researchers have found the remains of 51 individuals, along with other materials, such as syringes, drug bottles and even a water cooler holding a dead dog buried in the cemetery next to the school.
In an attempt to uncover as much of the story as possible, university researchers are going through old records, newspaper articles and interviewing families to try to piece together the school’s painful past.
“Maybe I’ve been doing this too long, but I’m not surprised at what horrible things people do to one another,” said Erin Kimmerle, the lead anthropologist investigating the school. ”It’s just really sad the way people treat one another, which may be in part what’s captured the public’s attention on this — just the sense that it’s not right.”
The recently released report has also identified two more boys who were buried in the graves. Previously, researchers had positively identified three remains.
The first is Bennett Evans, a school employee who passed away when a fire broke out in a dorm in 1914. Researchers could not match DNA, but the remains found are consistent with Evans’ age and cause of death. The other, Sam Morgan, who attended the school at age 18 back in 1915, did have a DNA match.
Researchers say the school did not report every death that occurred and did not submit death certificates in many cases. In their interviews with former inmates and school employees, they also learned of the ‘rape dungeon’ where young boys were sexually assaulted by those charged to care for them.
Some of the boys were murdered after they tried to escape the school. Robert Hewitt escaped in 1960 and hid in his family’s house near the school. Relatives came home one day to find the boy had been shot dead with his father’s shotgun, which was lying across his body.
Others were beaten to death at the school, mysteriously disappearing from the school’s records soon thereafter.