The National Institute of Justice approves more
than $420,000 to return children’s remains to families and proper burial.
WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2013) – The Office of
Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice has announced a $423,528 grant award to the University
of South Florida to assist in the investigation of missing and unidentified
children who died under unexplained circumstances and buried in unmarked graves
at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla.
of this grant are to perform DNA testing and conduct forensic anthropological
examinations of human remains for identification, the NIJ announced Wednesday.
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification will perform all
of the DNA analyses, compare the samples and enter that data into the Combined
DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons
The project is
lead by USF Associate Professor of Anthropology Erin Kimmerle, an expert on international
human rights and forensic anthropology, who earlier this month was granted
permission by the Florida Cabinet to excavate the unmarked grave site in an
attempt to return remains of children buried there to their families, who are
being identified through DNA testing. Unidentified remains will be reburied
under an identifying number in hopes of eventually linking identities to the
project, funded and approved by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott
this spring, is scheduled to begin Saturday.
Kimmerle thanked Greg Ridgeway, Acting
Director of the National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Department of
Justice, for its support for the Dozier project, and “U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for
identifying federal funding opportunities and providing his support to the
“The NIJ offers an incredible program for
cold cases and identification of missing persons.This funding is critical
for completing the next steps in our research at the Dozier School for Boys
including excavating human remains and performing a full anthropological
analysis on them,” Kimmerle said.
The Dozier site
contains a cemetery with 31 metal crosses, but the USF team has identified at
least 19 additional grave shafts in wooded areas outside the marked cemetery.
Dozier school records show 84 boys died at the institution between 1911 and
Working with USF
Associate Professor of Anthropology Christian Wells, archaeologist Richard
Estabrook and Associate Professor of Anthropology Antoinette Jackson and
numerous graduate students, the research team began examining the site more
than a year ago.
ground-penetrating radar to look for anomalies beneath the surface that could
indicate burial shafts. Their work has identified at least 19 additional graves
than previously recorded in school records. There is also speculation a second
burial site may exist on another tract of land.
The new grant
was awarded through NIJ’s 2013 competitive funding solicitation, “Using DNA
Technology to Identify the Missing.” In recent years, newer DNA technologies
have become available thanks in part to NIJ-funded research and development,
which has contributed to the ability of crime laboratories to successfully
analyze aged, degraded and compromised biological evidence.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed
by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, provides federal leadership in
developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer
justice, and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice
Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of
Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office
for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring,
Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking.
More information about OJP can be found at http://www.ojp.gov. For more information on USF’s findings at Dozier, click here.