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In a boarding school in Florida, 111 has tortured children. Survivors did not believe until they found the grave



No one believed the pupils of the closed Dozier boarding school until the detectives found the most terrible confirmation of their words - numerous children's graves on the territory of the educational institution. The dark story of a school with a bad reputation that has worked for 111 years - in the material

Photo: video screenshot

The closed boarding school for boys in the city of Marianna, Florida, also known as the Arthur J. Dozier School, served as a specialized institution for difficult teenagers and problem children for over a hundred years. They were sent to boarding school for not the most serious crimes - from petty hooliganism to theft. The school operated for 111 years, from 1 in January 1900 of the year to 30 in June of 2011.

During its long history, Dozier School has gained a reputation as a hellish place because of child abuse. Some of them simply disappeared - parents received only coffins with boards inside. No checks and replacements of the manual could stop the avalanche of bullying students.

In 2007, Justin Caldwell’s father wrote to the FBI about the abuse of his son in Dozier’s school: “My son was stifled, he fainted so many times that he lost count. He saw how he was mocked by other minors, and about three weeks ago he was hit twice on the concrete floor with his head. ” Some of the abuses were captured on camera and posted on YouTube.

This caused a new wave of attention to the correctional institution. The state governor has ordered a thorough investigation. Many allegations of abuse and violence were confirmed as a result of separate reviews conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 2010 and the Division of Civil Rights of the US Department of Justice in 2011. State officials closed the school in the same year 2011 - shortly before the release of the investigative report - delicately citing a "budget deficit".

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To establish the exact number of deaths at the school, the state authorities ordered a forensic anthropological study. As a result, 55 graves were discovered on campus, and almost 100 deaths were documented. One of the family members of a student who died at school in 1934 obtained permission through the court to exhume and identify the corpse. Painstaking work began: thanks to the identification of the remains and DNA expertise, experts accurately identified seven people and 14 more - only presumably.

On April 26, 2017, an official apology ceremony was held in Florida to the two dozen school survivors and families of other victims. It would seem that a terrible story that discredits the American justice system began to become a thing of the past, but two years later, on April 12, 2019, it became known about 27 more graves discovered on the school grounds. They were found quite by accident during the cleaning of the territory.

As a result, at the moment, 82 secret graves are known.

Photo: video screenshot

Bad place

From its opening until the 1980s, the Dozier School was an open campus of about 567 hectares. There was no perimeter fencing. The school was originally divided into two separate areas - "South Side", or "Number 1" for white students, and "North Side", or "Number 2" for "colored" students. Segregation continued until 1966.

On the territory of the “North side” was the But Hill Hill cemetery. Children who died at school were buried in a chaotic manner, often without any identifying marks.

In 1929, an 11-room building was built from white cinder blocks to hold the most problematic children in custody. Pupils called this place "White House". It was here, according to graduates of the school, that they were mocked at the most sophisticated.

Donald Stratton entered correctional school in 1958. He was 13 years old. Decades later, he could not forget the crib in the White House, on which the children lay, while the caretaker beat them with a leather belt. The affidavit, which he gave under oath in 2010, said: “I was forced to lie on the bed, with my face buried in a pillow. She was covered in vomiting and blood. ”

Dozier’s school wards sighed with relief after Governor Claude Kirk’s visit to 1968, but, as it turned out, there was nothing to rejoice about. After examining the campus, the politician told reporters: "If one of your children was held in such conditions, you would come here with guns." He outlawed any corporal punishment, but even this ruling could not change the order in school.

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“I was just 13 when I was sent there for school absenteeism,” recalls a former pupil who entered Dozier a year after the abolition of physical punishment. “The guards could not beat us, but they could bind us or deprive us of food.” They locked us up in solitary confinement for several days, even though we were not inveterate criminals. ”

After the governor's visit, the "White House" was converted into a warehouse, and in 2008 it was completely closed with a memorial plaque hung on it.

In recent years, Dozier’s school was a fenced residential complex located on an area of ​​64 hectares. It contained young men aged from 13 years to 21, who were sent here by court order for committing unlawful acts. The average length of stay at school ranged from nine months to a year. Young people lived in several cottages, each had their own room.

On the adjacent plot there was another building organized by the type of prison cells for juvenile offenders convicted for serious criminal offenses.

Photo: video screenshot

"Boys White House"

At the end of the XNUMXth century, former pupils began to come forward with statements about the bullying they experienced while serving their sentences at the Dozier Correctional School. They began calling themselves the "White House Boys". The name of the organization is associated with the very building that graduates associate with the site of the most brutal torture, sexual abuse and death. The most popular method of torture was beating with a leather strap attached to a wooden handle. The crying and screams of children only provoked the sadists.

In the early 2000s, the victims at Dozier's school were talked about across the country. More than 300 people spoke publicly about the torture. State authorities could no longer ignore public accusations of funding child abuse and initiated an investigation. Security guards and administrators of the school, who were still alive, denied their guilt.

Government investigations in 2008 and 2009 failed to gather enough evidence of juvenile abuse to warrant charges. Despite this, members of the White House Boys continued to tell the world their stories.

“This is not only about beatings - children were being killed there,” admits Roger Kaiser, a former pupil of the school, 67-year-old. “We tried to tell people about it for years, but nobody listened to us.”

The latest discovery of 27 graves only confirms the claims of the victims about the indescribable nightmare in which the children lived for more than a hundred years, while the school was open.

The management never denied that several pupils died in the fire of 1914, epidemics of the Spanish flu and pneumonia. They were buried in the adjacent cemetery, which has a total of 31 graves. School workers did not bother to mark the burial sites with anything other than crosses made hastily from iron pipes.

The graves found by the investigators are located outside this cemetery. The boys were secretly buried in the forest and in the territory of the content of pupils of African-American origin.

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“Many of the graduates of this school did not know each other, but they told exactly the same stories,” said former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013. “Some of the dead children were only six years old. We should have paid attention to this place earlier.”

“I grew up in an orphanage. When I was 13, I ran away, and the judge sent me to the Dozier school, - recalls a former pupil of the school, Roger Kaiser. - I saw the campus, I thought: "I'm in paradise." But the violence started from day one. I was assigned to work in the hospital wing. I have seen boys with all kinds of injuries. I was spotted by one of the adult employees and has been harassing me ever since. I know for a fact that some of the boys have died. When the guys tried to escape, the guards set their dogs on them.” At the end, he added: "So many years have passed, but now everyone knows that I spoke the truth."

Photo: video screenshot

“We have tried many times to tell the state of Florida that there are many more bodies there,” notes Bryant Middleton, who was sent to Dozier’s school in 1959. - I have a list of 130 boys who died at school or were missing. Their bodies have not yet been found. ”

Another former pupil of the school, Terry Burns, insists that it is necessary to scan the entire area around the campus: "I guarantee that they will find more 200-300 dead boys."

“Am I surprised by this find? asked Jerry Cooper, 74, president of the White House Boys. - Not. I have always said that these are not all bodies. I know this place, I know what happened there. It's much worse than people already know." Cooper recalls how one night he was stabbed 135 times with that same leather belt, from which he almost died. There are many such stories.

“It is necessary to put an end to this”

It is amazing that, according to the results of the investigations, the leadership of Dozier’s school did not take any action to adequately take into account the number of dead and the cause of death. Often the parents of the victims received sealed coffins, inside of which, instead of the bodies of the dead children, there were blackboards. One of these coffins was received by parents of 17-year-old Thomas Curry, who, being a pupil of the school, died in 1925 under suspicious circumstances.

An accountancy entry in the Dozier School says that he was "killed at the Chattachi Bridge, Florida." In the documents of the old cathedral cemetery in Philadelphia, where the teenager was buried by his family, it is said that he was "shot down by train."

In 2008, when the child abuse investigation began, Thomas's death certificate was found at the school. It stated that his skull had been crushed as a result of "an unknown cause". Anthropologists, having received permission to exhume the body to determine the cause of death, did not find any human remains in the coffin - no bones, no clothes. Scientists have established that the coffin was filled with ordinary boards. The remains of Thomas Curry have not yet been found.

Photo: video screenshot

Erin Kimmerly, an anthropology professor at the University of South Florida, said more research is needed across campus to uncover new burials, if any. “I think it needs to be checked and checked further,” said Dr. Kimmerly. “Given how sensitive this story is, it needs to be done. And put an end to it once and for all."

The history of the Dozier school brought a lot of pain to its pupils and their families. The "White House Boys" want the atrocities committed against them by the school staff to become known throughout the world. They believe that thanks to their work, such a crime will never happen again.

On March 16, 2019, the remains of 40 boys who died at Dozier's school were reburied in a cemetery in Tallahassee, far from the place where they experienced an indescribable nightmare. For many former pupils of the school, the funeral was another step towards finding peace.

“This is our most important achievement,” said Jerry Cooper. “I could easily have been one of these children, but God spared me.”

“Now we have buried 40 people, and we have nothing to worry about,” added Pastor Johnny Lee Gaddy, who spent five years at the Dozier School, from 1967 to 1971.

At the burial, each grave was marked with a number in case the identity of the dead was ever established.

Despite the fact that so much has already been done, the survivors understand that their work has not yet been completed. How many more boys are buried in school grounds is unknown.

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