U.S. Senator Bill Nelson & Former White House Boy Speak Out On D - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson & Former White House Boy Speak Out On Denied Dozier Permit

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Disappointment but also determination are emotions to describe reaction to Monday's decision from the Florida Department of State which denied scientists' request to exhume graves at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

Exhuming graves at the Dozier School for Boys was the next step in what researchers, Senator Bill Nelson and others thought would bring closure to families who say they're loved ones died suspicious deaths at the school.

However, the permit that would grant them the ability to do that was denied on Monday. 

"The state's position is very troubling," said U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

Despite the denied permit request that would allow researchers to exhume, Senator Bill Nelson says he's not giving up in support of their effort.

"So I'm gonna keep pushing for the truth, that's what the people of Florida deserve, that's what the families deserve," said Sen. Nelson.

Monday the Florida Secretary of State Ken Dentzer said the Department of State does not have the statutory authority to fulfill researchers' request. He goes on to say human bodies are not objects to be dug up for research purposes.

However, the Senator sees it differently.

"If the Governor wanted to do this, it could be done," said Sen. Nelson. "Saying that the Department of State doesn't have jurisdiction, that's just an excuse."

Over the last year, using ground penetrating radar, a team of researchers from the University of South Florida, led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, found evidence of nearly 50 burials.  

"We know there are graves here and in the woods beyond what was ever cared for or marked," said Dr. Kimmerlee in a previous interview back in March.  

Monday's decision also doesn't sit well with former White House Boy, Robert Straley, who attended the school in 1963 and 64, where he said he was beat three times.

"There were very loud noise when that whip struck you, double ply at least a half inch, 3/4 inch thick leather blogging strip," said Straley. "It weighed as big as a baseball bat."

While he's angry, he is also hopeful that this is not the end in the search for answers.

The University of South Florida met today with the Florida Attorney General's office and mutually agreed to follow up with Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Researchers believe he has misunderstood his office's authority and jurisdiction on this matter.