27 ‘Possible Graves’ Found at Notoriously Abusive Florida Boys’ School

Grave markers at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.
Grave markers at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. Photo: AP Images

During what should’ve been a routine procedure, a Florida company doing pollution cleanup near a notorious reform school unearthed something much more sinister than expected: evidence of 27 potential graves.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, workers discovered the “anomalies” about 165 yards from a cemetery at the shuttered Dozier School for Boys, where imprisoned boys say they were subject to brutal beatings, forced labor, and neglect. In the years since the school closed in 2011, anthropologists have already uncovered 55 graves and the remains of 51 people on the 1,400-acre campus in Marianna. If the company’s analysis is indeed correct, and the 27 “anomalies” are human burials, that would bring the total number of confirmed bodies to 82.

In response to the recent findings, governor Ron DeSantis has asked state agencies to “develop a path forward” a determine whether the “anomalies” are graves with Jackson County officials, per a letter he sent to the Commission Chairman, which was obtained by the Times.

Opened in 1900, Dozier wasn’t closed until eight years ago, following increasing public pressure and media investigations into the systematic abuse and suspicious deaths of boys there. The stories to come out of the reform school are chilling: Jerry Cooper, 74, who was at the school from 1960–61, told the New York Times that he once received 135 lashes as punishment at 2 a.m., which nearly left him dead.

“Does it surprise me about what they located?” Cooper said. “No … Mark my words: there are more bodies out there.”

27 ‘Possible Graves’ Found at Notorious Florida Boys’ School