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More Graves Identified at Dozier School, Former Student Recounts Abuse

By: Associated Press; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Associated Press; Lanetra Bennett Email

Tallahassee, FL -

Anthropologists say they've found evidence of more deaths at the now-closed Dozier School for Boys.

Eyewitness News had an exclusive interview with a man who describes the abuse he says he endured there.

"You take a 350 pound man against a 125 pound youngin', who's gonna win? The man. I've had both of my arms broke on account of them."

Norman Whiddon is talking about instructors at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

The 61-year-old Perry resident says he was sent to the reform school in 1964 at age 12.

He says, "I've been beat from the back of my neck all the way down to my ankles with a leather paddle about that long, that wide with a wooden handle on it. You could hear it hit the wall behind them, the ceiling, the wall, you, and then the wall behind them again. You had to lay down and put your hands on a metal bed while they done it."

The University of South Florida released a report Monday saying researchers found at least 50 gravesites at Dozier.

That's 19 more graves than previously identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's 2010 investigative report.

The Juvenile Justice Secretary says, "We will continue to work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site."

Whiddon says, "They'd send you up on the hill to this little place and put yo in a room that was about as big as a bathroom with a bunk bed and a commode and a sink. Then turn the air conditioning on in there on you. You wouldn't have no blanket, mattress or nothing, just a metal bed to sleep on. That's the kind of abuse they did to you. That's the State."

The school was shut down last year.

Whiddon recalls, "I was chained to a wall with a dog collar around my neck. I've had my nose broke because I had to go to the bathroom. The man wouldn't let me go. He hit me square in the nose, broke my nose and told me don't bleed on the floor. I had one of my arms broke on account of I didn't cook a steak right for a staff employee. The instructor grabbed me by my arm and twisted my arm until my elbow snapped. He told me he'd teach me how to cook."

The following is the complete statement by Secretary Wansley Walters, Dec. 10, 2012: “As secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, I am profoundly aware of the historical significance of the North Florida Youth Development Center (NFYDC), formerly the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. One of the decisions I am most proud of is that this administration closed NFYDC in 2011. As we have in the past, we will continue to work with the researchers at the University of South Florida on how best to provide them access to the site.”


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's law-enforcement agency chief is being asked to explain why university researchers found evidence of more deaths and more graves than previously identified at a now-closed state reform school.

An interim report released by the University of South Florida in Tampa says the researchers found at least 50 gravesites at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, about 60 miles west of Tallahassee.

That's 19 more than had been identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a 2010 investigative report

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Tuesday publicly asked the FDLE commissioner to look at the findings and report back to state officials.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said he has still not seen the USF report and said he could not comment on its findings.


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