Graves Found at Former Reform School Help Many Dead Boys’ Families Get Answers

gravesThe horror story at a former reform school in Florida has just gotten more chilling. Rumors that more graves had been found at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna started floating earlier this fall, and now they've been confirmed. We're now up to 50 graves, some of which are believed to be the final resting place of more than one young boy who attended the school.

But the press conference that brought this awful news of 19 more graves has also brought us new perspective on the atrocities in Marianna this week. Among the people there? The family of a boy who died on the premises, a boy who was just 13 when he was sent there for "malicious trespassing" and who died within three months of leaving home.


For the Varnadoe family, the discovery of these graves at the old reform school is something for which they are grateful. Not exactly the reaction I would have expected. These boys are believed to have died in horrific ways -- from fire to being shot during escape attempts -- at a school where even the survivors reported unspeakable abuses. The response certainly gave me pause.

What would be worse? The horrors of years past coming out of the closet? Or never knowing?

Finally, decades after the death of their uncle, the Varnadoe family has the chance of finally finding out what happened with Thomas Varnadoe.

While the rest of us are shuddering as we have to face the fact that horrible things happen, for these people, it's closure. Finally.

Often that's what comes out of these awful news stories. The general public is horrified by the fact that such atrocities are possible; the people directly involved are being given the chance to possibly move on. In this case, the more work that is done on the reform school property, the more information these families will have.

Somehow the way the families are looking at the search for these graves, the discovery of the bodies of young children, doesn't make it better ... but it does make it easier to stomach. If this will give people comfort and give families answers to the questions that have haunted them for years, this can only be a good thing.

Would you want to know if your family member were buried there?


Image via Der_Krampus/Flickr

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