Scientists have discovered 19 unknown grave shafts at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys (also known as the Florida State Reform School) in Marianna, Fla., which closed in 2011 after state investigators and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division confirmed widespread abuse over many decades, according to NBC News.
This discovery suggests that many more boys may have died there amid brutal conditions then had previously been known.
The state had attributed its decision to close the school due to budgetary reasons. But even before then, the institution had a long history as a target of investigations and lawsuits alleging physical and mental abuse, forced labor, rape and murder.
Researchers at the University of South Florida, in Tampa say they now estimate that there are at least 50 grave shafts in the area of the school’s cemetery and the surrounding woods. Christian Wells leader of the anthropological work says all of the grave shafts were located on the side of the campus, where African-American boys were segregated.
Wells and the other researchers believe that there may be many more secret graveyards on the grounds, considering the number of unaccounted for cases and the practice of segregating cemeteries during the first half of the last century.