Jun 14, 2022 - News

Book details story of uncovering Dozier School for Boys graves

A photo of five "We Carry Their Bones" books stacked on top of each other.

Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

A new book from a forensic anthropologist who led the yearslong investigation into Florida's notorious Dozier School for Boys publishes Tuesday.

Driving the news: "We Carry Their Bones" is USF associate professor Erin Kimmerle's story of the decade she spent trying to account for a century of abuse, neglect and killings at the state's oldest reform school, in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

Why it matters: Even with the intense international interest in the case, Kimmerle's personal story — which involves sacrifice, stress, and remarkable courage — hasn't yet been fully told.

  • She learned about the Dozier school from newspaper stories a decade ago, when questions were raised about a small graveyard on campus.
  • She and colleagues used ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery and found 51 sets of remains buried in 55 graves, nearly twice the number school records showed were buried on campus.
  • She met resistance from judges, politicians and locals, but eventually earned the right to excavate the burials, identify boys, and reunite them with their families.

What they're saying: "In a corrupt world, her unflinching revelations are as close as we'll come to justice," said Whitehead in a cover blurb.

Disclosure: Ben Montgomery, who covered the Dozier school for the St. Petersburg Times, helped Kimmerle write the book.


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