Forensic researchers will begin exhumations this weekend
They believe a total of 49 children were buried at the reform school
In 2009, Florida investigators said 31 children were buried there
The probe found none of the deaths was suspicious
Editor’s Note: Rich Phillips is a senior producer with CNN who first started reporting on the children buried at Dozier Reform School in 2008.
This weekend, Florida will begin digging into its tragic past as anthropologists start unearthing what they believe are the remains of dozens of children buried on the grounds of a former reform school.
The exhumations at the Dozier School for Boys – which closed in 2011 – are the culmination of years of controversy surrounding the reform school and a mythology that has taken on a life of its own.
Rightly or wrongly, the Florida Panhandle town of Marianna – just west of Tallahassee – has become synonymous with the school and its dark past.
Some of those who were once sent to Dozier – now senior citizens – have come forward with stories of abuse at the school, including alleged beatings, torture, sexual abuse, killings and the disappearance of students, during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
On the school grounds buried deep in the woods lies a small unkept patch of land with 31 white crosses. Rusting away with time, they mark the final resting place for the unknown students that the state has confirmed were buried there.