The University of South Florida released its 119-page report Monday on the
school's investigation into "Boot Hill Cemetery," trying to solve multiple
mysteries, including whether there are previously unknown graves in the old
cemetery at Dozier School for Boys, once the largest reformatory in the United
The report was authored by USF representatives Erin Kimmerle, Richard Estabrook, E. Christian Wells and Antoinette Jackson.
The investigators at the university say they have been able to find 50 graft shafts, while previous reports through the years have listed only 45 graves on the site, but the report indicates that there's a long way to go if full knowledge about the cemetery is ever to be gained.
"Throughout, the historical records are incomplete and often provide conflicting information. The cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown," the report stated. The team did seek expert opinions on several of the deaths, but cited the need for more research and preservation of the site. The state had previously announced plans to sell the Dozier property; that had been put on hold for the conclusion of this study, and it is not known what will happen to it ultimately.
The USF team also reported there are 22 deaths at Dozier for which no recorded burial location could be found, and indicated that more study is needed to determine whether any other burial locations exist on the grounds of Dozier.
The team used interviews, archaeological and forensic anthropology techniques interviews, along with field probes to conduct the study in trying to delineate the boundaries of the cemetery.
It cites conflicting reports, continued public suspicion about the circumstances surrounding some of the deaths, and states that more research is need to answer lingering questions.
The report can be read in its entirety by downloading the 119-page PDF file here.
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