A former boys’ school in Florida is in the headlines this week as authorities prepare to dig up bodies buried on the grounds.
The Dozier School for Boys–which is no longer open–was reportedly the site of endless horrors for its students over several decades, and now the family members of boys who were buried in the small cemetery in the woods behind it say they want closure…and perhaps some answers. Students who survived their time at the school have reported rape and various abuses, and several students mysteriously became ill and were buried on the property. However, authorities have determined that there are about 18 more sets of remains buried in the cemetery than there are markers for. 31 little white crosses already sit in the area, disclosing no information about who might be buried there.
“This decision puts us a step closer to finishing the investigation,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. “Nothing can bring these boys back, but I’m hopeful that their families will now get the closure they deserve.”
Former student Roger Kiser, now 67 years old, wrote a book about his time there. “The White House Boys — An American Tragedy” details the savagery bestowed upon the boys who were sent there for various behavioral problems and says he was once beaten so badly that his bloodied underwear was stuck to his skin. Kiser has been lobbying for 25 years for an investigation into the deaths of the boys on campus. The title of his book refers to the dungeon-like building in which most of the abuse took place, which the boys referred to as the “White House”.
“When the evidence is just so overwhelming, you can’t deny it anymore,” Kiser said.
In recent years, horrifying tales of physical and sexual abuse have come out from several schools across the country, including the Horace Mann School in New York and, of course, Penn State. Now, after decades of living with the memories, former students are finally going to get closure, and families of the victims will hopefully get some answers as to what really happened to their loved ones.
“These are children who came here and died, for one reason or another, and have just been lost in the woods,” Erin Kimmerle, who is leading the exhumation, said. “When there’s no knowledge and no information, then people will speculate and rumors will persist or questions remain.”