The documentary film Deadly Secrets: The Lost Children of Dozier investigates the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, Florida also known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. The juvenile reform institution opened in 1900. Over the years, it gained a reputation for horrific abuse, beatings, rapes, torture and murder of students by staff. 111 years after its opening, the US Department of Justice closed the school permanently in June 2011 for budgetary reasons. At that time, 104 boys and young men aged 13 to 21 were committed there by a court. They were sent to other facilities around the state.
[Several books have been written about Dozier including journalist David Kushner’s The Bones of Marianna: A Reform School, a Terrible Secret, and a Hundred-Year Fight for Justice]
The State planned to sell the 159 acre property but a nephew of one of the victims “filed suit and a judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the sale until Thomas Varnadoe’s 13-year-old body was exhumed.” Varnadoe was sent to the school in 1934. According to his death certificate he died of pneumonia 34 days after being admitted. In 2013, Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle of the University of South Florida excavated the campus looking for the remains of missing students. She and her team discovered the remains of 55 bodies — including Varnadoe’s on the Dozier site. Deadly Secrets: The Lost Children of Dozier premieres on LMN on June 3 at 8pm. It will air again on June 4 at 12am.