Dozier burial marks start of healing for victims

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
January 30, 2019

MARIANNA, Fla. (CNS) -- On Wednesday, the bodies of five teens and two adults were returned to their graves in a cemetery known as Boot Hill at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

They died in a fire more than one hundred years ago.

The eight coffins were unloaded one by one. Each was brought in its own hearse.

Two of the coffins contained former staff members at the Dozier School for Boys, while five held children who attended the school and the eighth had mixed remains.

Survivors of the boys school, known for its abusive past, said their final farewell to their brethren.

Mark Engelsen, who attended Dozier from 1973 to 1974, drove all the way from Texas.

“A lot of things happened to a lot of people at this place and I'm one of them," said Engelsen.

The remains were recovered as part of an investigation into the abuse at the school. In total, the remains of more than 50 boys were unearthed.

The reason the seven are being buried on former school grounds is because they were originally laid to rest there. Also, the nature of their deaths was not related to the abuse that plagued Dozier for more than 100 years.

The Florida Legislature formally apologized for the atrocities at Dozier in 2018.

Charles Fudge, who spent 1960 and 1961 at Dozier, says the abuse both haunts and unites those who experienced it.

“We need love and kindness," said Fudge. "Not torture."

However, this ceremony was part of the healing process, says James “Harley" DeNyke, who attended the school from 1964 to 1966.

“It helps the healing for a lot of us guys that are up there in our years now and brings peace," said DeNyke.

More than 40 boys whose bodies were also recovered in 2015 will be buried starting this weekend far away from the school grounds in a Tallahassee cemetery.

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