Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has petitioned a judge to allow a Panhandle medical examiner the right to exhume human remains at the site of the former state reformatory for boys in Marianna, reports the Tampa Bay Times. If approved, the petition would give Dr. Michael Hunter up to a year to investigate clandestine graves at “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas at Florida’s longest-running reform school, which was closed in 2011.
“The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” Bondi said in a prepared statement. Forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida have been using ground penetrating radar to map the forgotten burial grounds. They’ve identified 50 possible graves; previous investigations found just 31. They also identified nearly 100 deaths that occurred at the school, using state records. Erin Kimmerle, who has led USF’s work, believes there may be another unmarked cemetery on the south side of the campus. She has asked the state to fund ongoing efforts to find all the graves and to identify the remains.