USF Researchers Get Dozier School for Boys Excavation Extended

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MARIANNA, FL-- University of South Florida researchers will have at least another year to search the old Dozier School for Boys campus in Marianna, looking for unmarked graves.

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida cabinet extended the excavation permit for University of South Florida researcher Dr. Erin Kimmerle until August 5, 2015.

Kimmerle and her team began searching for unmarked graves at Dozier last August.

The search came after years of accusations by some former inmates at the school who claimed boys were tortured, murdered and buried on the campus.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the claims in 2010 and did not find any proof.

But Kimmerle claimed she and her team have uncovered several graves that were undocumented, and state officials want to give her more time.

"Think about all the other families that still don't know. So, this investigation is going to continue, and it's important that we do that for justice, and it's important for closure," explained Senator Bill Nelson.

"I may not have much of a voice today, but I will always have a voice to speak out in favor for what we're doing to fight for these families, regarding the Dozier issue," said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Kimmerle announced today their research has led to the identification of the first set of remains, 14 year old George Owen Smith.

Authorities sent Smith to Dozier in 1940, but he escaped.

Officials found his body in January 1941, under a house about two miles from the school, and buried him in an unmarked grave on campus.