As outlined in a public meeting on June 20, the Florida Department of State (DOS) is moving forward on a plan to research and investigate the recently discovered anomalies near the Dozier School for Boys. DOS entered into a land-use agreement with Jackson County and has contracted with the University of South Florida to conduct the necessary fieldwork to determine if human remains are present in the identified area of concern. The USF team is led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, who also led the original analysis and excavation at Boot Hill Cemetery from 2012-2016. Dr. Kimmerle and her research team began work at the site today.
“The Department of State is very sensitive to the significance of this matter and our hearts go out to those for whom this brings back painful memories and experiences,” said Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. “At Governor DeSantis’ direction, we have been working quickly to develop and execute a plan to determine the nature of the anomalies. We are fully committed to taking the appropriate action at every step in this process as the investigation moves forward.”
As part of the investigation, the USF team will determine if the 27 recently discovered anomalies are human burials as well as consult on an analysis of the entire property in order to determine if there are other areas that require further investigation. Dr. Kimmerle will be using much of the same personnel, partners, methods and processes as she did during the prior investigation at Boot Hill Cemetery. If any human remains are discovered, law enforcement will be immediately notified as is proper procedure.
“We understand there are a lot of people who care deeply about our findings,” said Kimmerle. “Our objective is to answer as many questions as possible, as we have done throughout the course of our research at the site.”
In order to maintain the integrity of the site and ensure the USF team is able to conduct their work appropriately, access to the site is strictly limited to the researchers, law enforcement and authorized DOS personnel. The site is being monitored by law enforcement.
The investigation could take from 6 months up to one year. DOS will communicate important updates or discoveries as appropriate throughout the process.