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University of South Florida still waiting for permit to exhume graves at Dozier School for Boys

8:40 PM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) -- University of South Florida researchers on Friday did not get the green light to begin exhuming graves at the now closed Dozier School for Boys. Instead, the state asked for more information before it makes a final decision.

Meantime, three families of boys who died at Dozier gave DNA samples that could help identify possible remains at the school.

"After 75 long years, we're finally getting close," said Richard Varnadoe after getting a DNA sample taken from his mouth.

Varnadoe's brother died at Dozier in 1934 at the age of 13. The family is not sure where he is buried, and they suspect abuse played a role in Thomas Varnadoe's death.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who participated at a news conference where the DNA samples were taken, said he suspects USF will eventually get a permit to exhume graves at the controversial school.

"You can't do something by not doing anything when you find 50 bodies that were unaccounted for and the state can simply not away from this," Nelson said.

USF researchers released a report last year showing significantly more grave sites and deaths at the Panhandle school than state records show.

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