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State Department Denies Request for Exhumation of Gravesites at Dozier

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The Florida State Department denied a request to exhume and examine gravesites at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna today.

In a letter written to Dr. Erin Kimmerle and Dr. E. Christian Wells at the University of South Florida's Anthropology Department, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner denied the request by the University of South Florida. USF researchers wanted to look for more evidence in the disappearance and deaths of former inmates housed at the site.

South Florida had requested the Bureau of Archeological Research (BAR) to permit the exhumation of the remains.

Dentzer said that because the Division does not "have the authority to issue archaeological permits to excavate human remains" that the Florida State Department is unable to take action on the permit request.

The BAR had issued the original permits to identify and protect human burials at the former Dozier School property in Marianna. the permits were authorized to determine the location of grave sites in order to preserve the cemetery as a "valuable resource for Florida and surviving family members," according to Detzner's letter.

USF's work under those permits is not complete and the BAR has granted USF extension on those permits in order to continue that work.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) had been an advocate for the investigation after his office was contacted by family members last year.

"At this point, it's starting to look like a classic run-around," Nelson said in a statement. "This is a state-owned land and it's the state's responsibility and the state of Florida needs to do the right thing and not pass the buck."