USF researchers identify two bodies found in Dozier School graves


On Thursday, researchers at the University of South Florida identified two more victims from the site of the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

One body belonged to Thomas Varnadoe, who was taken to the Dozier school in September 1934. A month later the 13-year-old was dead, reportedly after succumbing to pneumonia. USF researchers said were not able to establish the final cause of Thomas’ death due to the condition of his remains.

Thomas’ nephew, Glen, has long been a crusader for former inmates of the Dozier school.

“I’m overwhelmed that we’ve achieved the goal that we initially set… in removing him from a place of atrocity-laden soils at the now-defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys,” the Lakeland resident told reporters. “It gives me pleasure and spiritual relief that Thomas will not spend eternity in the demeaning surroundings, but with his brothers and family members who have never forgotten him.”

The second body belonged to Earl Wilson; a 12-year-old African American boy.

According to court documents, he was killed in 1944 by four other inmates while they were confined to a small cottage. Medical evidence shows that Wilson died from head trauma.

Researchers at USF have yet to identify 52 other bodies exhumed from the site of the former reform school.

You may also like

Felony charges dropped against USF protestors ‘The Tampa Five’

Listen: Five demonstrators, known as the “Tampa 5”, will avoid...

Barbara Petersen
How a tiny non-profit startup broke the year’s biggest Florida politics story

A tiny non-profit last week broke the biggest story in...

The Scoop: WMNF Daily News Digest
The Scoop: Tues., December 5, 2023 Tampa Bay & Florida headlines by WMNF

Criminal investigation of FL GOP chair The Republican Party of...

Aerial photo of downtown Tallahassee, Florida and the State Capitol
Democrat Gary Curry will challenge State Rep. Kevin Steele (R-Dade City)

Trinity Democrat Gary Curry opened a campaign account Monday to...

Ways to listen

WMNF is listener-supported. That means we don't advertise like a commercial station, and we're not part of a university.

Ways to support

WMNF volunteers have fun providing a variety of needed services to keep your community radio station alive and kickin'.

Follow us on Instagram