FORT WORTH -- After months of working to help 'associate' fragments of bone and teeth recovered from a mass grave in Florida, DNA specialists in Fort Worth say they have helped identify the first person known to be buried at a former boys school in Florida.

The family of George Owen Smith, who died in 1940, said at a press conference in Florida that they were relieved to finally know where Smith was buried in the sea of unmarked graves found at the now-shuttered Arthur Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla.

'It shocked me totally numb for a moment. I couldn't say a word,' Ovell Krell said of finding out it was her brother's remain that were identified. 'This, to me, is a miracle [he was identified ...] when I think of all the boys and all the graves.'

DNA experts at at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center used fragments of Smith's bones and teeth to make a positive association. The work took months.

'They aren't whole, intact teeth. The bones themselves aren't whole or intact, so they can fall apart very easily,' said Dixie Peters, who oversees the missing persons lab.

Peters said only eight other families have come forward offering up DNA samples to match with remains removed from the school's graveyard.

'If we don't get additional families to compare them to, we're not going to make additional associations,' she said in a plea to get more DNA samples.

The school, which was closed a few years ago, was long rumored to be a site of abuse.

Smith's family was suspiciously told that he had already been buried when they showed up to claim his body some 74 years ago.

Researches at the University of South Florida, along with investigators from the Hillsborough County Sheriff in Florida, are continuing to investigate the case.


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