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Action News Investigates Delays in Digging Up Dozier School

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Updated: 7/09/2013 12:01 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News Investigates delays in digging up graves at the old Dozier School in Marianna.

We found the grounds at the former school in Jackson County falling apart during a recent visit.

The school housed children from around the state, including the Jacksonville area, who served court-ordered sentences there.

Over the years, boys who have survived the facility have claimed atrocities, including beatings, torture and other abuses.

Some families say their loved ones never returned home after being sentenced to the facility.

The remote location has 31 metal crosses painted white to mark the burial of more than two dozen children.   None of these markers include names of who is buried.

Researchers from the University of South Florida used a ground sonar device to discover at least 19 other bodies buried on the land.

Daniel Holloway served time at the school in the 1970s.   He had choice words for the location when he sat down with Action News.

"I'd call it a slave camp," Holloway says.

He alleges beatings in a small building known as the White House.

"They went in there, hit me 30 times, let me out," Holloway says.

The state officially closed the school in 2011, years after it ceased operations.  

Since then, researchers, families and survivors have tried to expose the secrets buried in the ground, and hidden inside the now empty buildings.

US Senator Bill Nelson tells Action News delays are just keeping the truth from being revealed.

"There are too many questions about whether crimes were committed there," Nelson says.

USF is working with families whose loved ones were sentenced to the Dozier School decades ago. 

They are taking DNA samples, and submitting them to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

USF is waiting on the state archaeologist to approve digging at the site.

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