Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sen. Bill Nelson asks Justice Department to investigate Dozier boys' deaths

Sen. Bill Nelson has asked the Department of Justice to look into the decades-old deaths and burials of boys at the state's oldest reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

In letters sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and to President Obama's nominee to replace him, Loretta Lynch, Nelson asked the Justice Department to include the reformatory deaths in its ongoing investigation of inmate deaths at Florida prisons.

"Given new information about wards of the shuttered reform school, and a long history of mistreatment allegations surrounding the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys," Nelson wrote, "I believe the department is uniquely positioned to provide an outside and independent review."

The letter was sent soon after a report was issued from anthropologists at the University of South Florida who unearthed the remains of 51 people who died at the school, 48 of them boy inmates. That's 20 more than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said were buried there after an investigation in 2009. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam last week asked the FDLE to review the USF report and investigate the discrepancy.

Several former wards from the 1950s and '60s, part of a group called the White House Boys, complained that an independent agency should conduct the investigation, not the FDLE.

"We don't trust them to do this," Jerry Cooper, 70, president of the White House Boys, told the Tampa Bay Times. "If they're going to reopen this and they can't get the feds in there, they need to use an independent outfit to investigate this."

Several boys known to be buried at the school died under suspicious circumstances. But anthropologists have said their remains are too deteriorated to determine causes of death.

The FDLE found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but Nelson pointed out that anthropologists have determined boys suffered from nutritional deficiencies, lack of dental care and underdevelopment. He also noted that they found a small metal ball with one boy's remains that they think might be buckshot.

"Local law enforcement, meantime, has expressed no interest in investigating," Nelson wrote. "Thus, a federal investigation may be the best alternative."

Sen. Bill Nelson asks Justice Department to investigate Dozier boys' deaths 02/25/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg's ballooning sewage debt could threaten credit rating (but there's a Hail Mary plan to avoid that)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city needs a lot of money — $435 million over the next five years — most of it to fix its leaky sewer pipes and aging sewer plants.

    In September 2016, signs at St. Petersburg's North Shore Park warned people to stay out of the water due to contamination from sewage released by the city's overwhelmed sewer system. The City Council on Thursday learned that the very expensive fix for its sewage woes could hamper the city's credit rating. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Pinellas County receives $30 million for beach renourishment

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– While Pinellas beaches continually rank among the best in America, they need help to stay that way.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $30 million to help with beach renourishment at several Pinellas locations, including including Sand Key, Treasure Island and Upham Beach. This photo from 2014 shows how waves from high tides caused beach erosion at Sunset Beach near Mansions by the Sea condominium complex SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  3. Straz Center parking squeeze infuriates patrons, motivates search for solutions

    Transportation

    TAMPA — When the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened 30 years ago, it welcomed just 30,000 patrons its first year.

    Fireworks shoot into the sky over the David A. Straz Jr. Center For The Performing Arts. [SCOTT MCINTYRE, Times]
  4. Video shows naked man who stole swan sculpture in Lakeland, deputies say

    Crime

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office is searching for a large swan sculpture that was stolen from a Lakeland cold storage facility last weekend, possibly by a naked man.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office says this naked man stole a large black and white swan sculpture, upper right, from a Lakeland storage facility last weekend. Surveillance video showed the man walking into Lakeland Cold Storage. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."