Sen. Bill Nelson urges Justice Department to join Dozier graves investigation
From the Times' Ben Montgomery:
Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday called on the Department of Justice to assist a team of anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of South Florida that has been investigating the deaths of nearly 100 children at Florida's oldest reform school, the now-shuttered Dozier School for Boys outside the Panhandle town of Marianna.
Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after the USF team released a report on Monday saying it had found 50 grave shafts on school property, 19 more than Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators found during an investigation in 2009.
"The reform school may yield some ugly reminders about our past, but we absolutely must get to the bottom of this," Nelson said.
The USF team also said it believes there is another burial site on what had been the white side of campus before integration in the late 1960s. Erin Kimmerle, a professor and forensic anthropologist, said Monday that she had been in contact with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida to talk about how to proceed. The team is continuing its investigation.
The state was trying to sell the property, but a judge ordered the sale be put on hold while the team searches for the remains of a boy who died under suspicious circumstances in 1934. The boy's family has been trying to locate his remains for decades.
"For the sake of those who died and the family members still living, we've got to find out what happened at that school," Nelson wrote to Holder. "I'm asking your department to provide support and assistance to USF researchers in a broadened search to look for more graves, as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes. The families deserve closure once and for all."