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A Year After State Approves Dozier Dig, USF Researchers To Talk Latest Developments

Lead USF researcher Erin Kimmerle and her team working on an unmarked grave.
Lead USF researcher Erin Kimmerle and her team working on an unmarked grave.

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University of South Florida researchers are expected to make an announcement Thursday regarding their continuing dig to unearth the remains of boys believed to be buried on the property of the now-closed Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

The goal behind exhuming the bodies is to provide closure to families searching for answers into the fate of their loved ones believed to have died from alleged abuse at the former North Florida reform school.

The last big update on the dig—from late January—was the discovery of the remains of 55 bodies in an area called Boot Hill Cemetery.

USF researchers were analyzing more than 10,000 artifacts in the unmarked graves as well as analyzing the skeletal remains themselves to help identify those buried. They've since released facial composites.

According to the school’s latest release, researchers are expected to announce what they call “a significant development” regarding the ongoing DNA testing/identification process at a press conference Thursday.

Lead Researcher Erin Kimmerle is also expected to be joined by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to provide updates on the land use agreement with the Florida Cabinet that allows the team to do their work.

Last year, the team had trouble getting the state to approve a work permit, until Attorney General Pam Bondi stepped in and helped get the matter on the Cabinet’s agenda. Wednesday marked a year since the item was approved.

Thursday’s press conference will take place at 1 p.m. in the Galleria of USF Research Park on the Tampa campus.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Copyright 2014 WFSU