Dozier School

Funding for a first-of-its-kind facility did not survive the Governor’s veto pen. That’s despite being named for an abused victim of the now-closed Dozier School for Boys.

Two bills offering a formal apology to former wards who say they were abused in a Panhandle reform school and creates memorials for those buried on the property passed their first House committee Thursday. After hearing some horrific stories, some Florida lawmakers issued apologies of their own.

Final recommendations on a memorial for the unclaimed remains uncovered on the Dozier School for Boy grounds are now heading to the Florida Legislature. But, during the final meeting of the panel tasked with making those suggestions, tensions were pretty high.

 Florida would pay to rebury students whose remains were once interred on the grounds of a now shuttered reform school, under a bill passed by the Senate.

The Dozier School for Boys in the Florida Panhandle town of Marianna closed in 2011, after allegations by former inmates of decades of torture and abuse.

University of South Florida researchers have been working for years to identify dozens of remains found in unmarked graves on the site, and they've just released their final report.

For years, claims of abuse, beatings, rapes and murder of students by staff have come from those who survived the Dozier School for Boys,  the now-closed state-run reform school in the Florida Panhandle.

Many families are still wondering what happened to their loved ones, and some are getting answers as researchers from the University of South Florida identify remains that have been exhumed from the grounds of Dozier.

Lucielle Salomon / WUSF 89.7 News

In 1934, 13-year-old Thomas Varnadoe and his brother, Hubert, were sent to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys for allegedly stealing a typewriter.

In 1944, 12-year-old Earl Wilson went to the reform school in the panhandle town of Marianna, Florida, for allegedly riding in a car a friend stole.

Neither Thomas nor Earl ever returned home -- until now. Science and perseverance are finally giving their families some peace.

University of South Florida researchers will announce Thursday afternoon that they've determined the identities of two more sets of remains buried on the grounds of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

The Ledger and a release from Senator Bill Nelson's office say that one is Thomas Varnadoe, 13, who died in 1934, a month after arriving at Dozier.

Tampa Bay Times

The Florida Cabinet voted Tuesday to allow University of South Florida researchers to exhume bodies at the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The secretary of state had turned down the request, but Attorney General Pam Bondi took up the cause. The research team wants to find out whose bodies are buried at the old reform school, allegedly the site of widespread beatings. 

A team from University of South Florida is finding more bodies than expected on the grounds of a state reform school for boys in Marianna.