Imagine that you were a parent of a troubled child in the early 1960's. You sent your child to a reformatory school, believing that this would do the trick -- and make your child an upstanding citizen. I know, it's hard to relate to something like that today, nobody does that anymore. But as parents we can all relate to the fear of never seeing our child again. We push those thoughts away every time one of those horrific child abduction stories pop into our newsfeeds. It's almost impossible to process the concept.
But that's what happened to over fifty sets of parents who had sent their children to Florida Industrial School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. They dropped off their sons only to never see them again.
Now this shocking mystery that has meant lack of closure for so many grieving and confused parents might find a resolution of sorts as a result of a recent gruesome discovery.
Using ground-penetrating radar, a team of anthropologists have determined what they believe to be an additional 18 bodies buried in the woods -- this on top of the 30 unmarked graves that have mysteriously stood behind the school for decades. For most of these children, who's bodies remain unidentified and unclaimed, there's no record of what fate these young boys met.
In 2008, a group of men dubbed "The White House Boys," came forward and claimed that the "White House," a concrete building on the school grounds of Florida Industrial School for Boys, was used for brutal types of punishments, including whippings and beatings. The charges were denied by former administrator of the school, Troy Tidwell.
Florida is selling the land where the school once stood, so the bodies of these unidentified children may forever go unnamed.
This now-defunct school plays the scene of a gruesome set of murders that have been lost through the years. A small cemetary was discovered, a row of white, rusted crosses stand to mark each of the 31 graves of unidentified students. While the former students claim that the cause of death for these students was homicide at the hands of brutal administrators of the Florida Industrial School for Boys, an investigation from the state of Florida determined no evidence of criminal activity was present or connected to the deaths of unnamed students.
Then where did over fifty additional students at the school go? Parents, former schoolmates, and siblings don't have that answer. They have no closure, no certainty of the fate that confronted their loved ones. Because these bodies cannot be idenfiied, they cannot be exhumed and properly buried with their beloved families where they belong.
Investigators are moving quickly on identifying the boys and trying to send them to a proper, dignified burial as the State of Florida has put the land up for sale and could be sold at any time.
We can only hope that these children are idenfied and buried with their families, where they belong, before it's too late.
Everyone deserves to rest with dignity.
What would you do if you were a parent or sibling who's child had gone missing at this illustrious school?
Image via Sam Howzit/Flickr