A team of forensic researchers from the University of South Florida is scheduled to announce this afternoon significant findings from their DNA work on remains found at the now-shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.
The team, led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, has spent more than a year unearthing dozens of unmarked graves on the grounds of the defunct reform school in Florida’s Panhandle.
The team is trying to identify the human remains they found buried in these graves by matching DNA samples to the living relatives of the boys.
Instrumental in funding of the DNA project was U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who helped the university secure a federal grant from the Department of Justice.
Nelson first got involved when a Polk County man two years ago asked the lawmaker’s office for help in locating his uncle’s remains, known to be buried on the grounds of the reform school that was the subject of numerous abuse allegations before the state finally shut it down three years ago.
“USF and Dr. Kimmerle have done a heroic job in helping bring closure to the families for their loved ones of what happened up at the Dozier school,” Nelson said. “And we’re not going to let this problem be ignored anymore. Thanks to USF, we are bringing this in for understanding and not letting this problem be ignored.
“And it’s important – it’s important for justice and it’s important for the loved ones of those missing,” Nelson said.