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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

FDLE says Dozier school can account for all 31 bodies

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced its findings into the unmarked graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna Friday and concluded that there were 31 bodies buried there between 1914 and 1952, and each of the deaths were attributable to a known cause.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the school or the staff made any attempt to conceal any other deaths,'' said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey at a press conference Friday.

Although the investigation into the alleged abuses is active and ongoing, FDLE said it was releasing the report about the graves sites to start answering questions of families of former students.

"We found no student who had specific knowledge of any unexplained death or burial at this site,'' said Bailey said. "We found no evidence to suggest that this was a secret or hidden cemetery. In our quest to determine the identify of the individuals buried at the grave site we conducted an extensive and exhaustive review of available records.''

Using official records of the school,death certificates, news reports and obituaries, aerial photographs and interviews with more than 100 former students and staff of the school, FDLE determined that the official record is clear and all suspected bodies are accounted for.

But investigators didn't exhume the bodies or do an analysis of the site to determine if there were more than 31 bodies buried there, said Mark Perez, FDLE chief of executive investigations. 

And when asked why they relied on official documents when there are allegations that school officials may have tried to hide beating death of a student by failing to record it on official documents, Perez said: "There is nothing to refute the information that is provided in that information.''

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 6:00pm]


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