- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has asked the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review new findings about the former Arthur G. Dozier school for boys, where dozens of bodies have been unearthed, and see whether they warrant more investigation.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Putnam - who is one of three members of the Florida Cabinet - cited a recent report by researchers at the University of South Florida.

Anthropologists have found the remains of 51 people buried at the school during a dig. That’s 19 more than had been identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a 2010 investigative report.

The USF researchers also uncovered garbage, syringes, drug bottles and a dog encased in an old water cooler buried in the cemetery.

They are trying to identify who was buried there and the stories behind how they and others died at the school.

The recent report, prepared for the Florida Cabinet, identifies two more people buried in graves, in addition to three who were identified previously.

The FDLE, in its 2010 report, said it was unable to substantiate or refute claims that inmate deaths were caused by the school’s staff or that staff members physically and sexually abused them.

In the letter to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen, Putnam said that the latest report could contain information not available to the law enforcement agency when it investigated the Dozier cases in 2009.

“I am requesting that the FDLE evaluate new findings reported by USF to determine whether or not there is new evidence that would otherwise warrant additional investigation,” said Putnam, who copied the letter to the other members of the cabinet and the governor.

Putnam also asked the FDLE Commissioner to report his findings back to the cabinet.

According to researchers, the school underreported deaths; didn’t provide death certificates, names or details in many cases, particularly involving black boys; and simply reported some boys who disappeared as no longer at the school. And many in the Panhandle community don’t want to talk about the school’s dark past.


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