North Texas team to identify bodies exhumed at Florida boys school

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 29 at 10:44 AM

Dozier School for Boys

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FORT WORTH — Experts at the University of North Texas Health Science Center are preparing to identify the remains of additional dead bodies found at a shuttered juvenile detention facility in Florida.

Florida officials said Tuesday the number of bodies they've found at the Dozier School in Marianna is up to 55.

With long-standing allegations of abuse, rape, torture, and murder, the very thought of Florida's Dozier School — for a time the largest juvenile detention camp in America — still brings chills.

And now researchers believe they've discovered 55 unidentified graves at Dozier, five more than they previously believed existed.

A team at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Department of Forensic and Investigative Genetics will now work to identify the names of the dead.

"Essentially, we’re going to process these samples and then use the DNA technology that we work with on a daily basis to see if we can get any association between the reference samples and the remains,” department chairman Dr. Arthur Eisenberg told reporters.

Reference samples come from the DNA of living relatives. Right now, the UNT Health Science Center already has five bone samples in house from earlier discoveries and reference for five missing boys.

Dr. Eisenberg also hopes anthropologists at the site in Florida find clues — like coffin fragments — that help date the time of a boy’s death.

It's painstaking work, but, says Eisenberg, gratifying as well.

"To give a family closure is a good feeling,” he said.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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