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6-Year-Old Among 55 Bodies Uncovered at Florida’s School of Terror

55 bodies of children have been found on the grounds of a notorious boys’ reform school in Florida. The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys was closed in 2011, yet for nearly a century boys at the school reported beatings, confinement, and witnessing boys going for punishment and never returning.

Opened at the turn of the 20th century the school, also known as the Florida School for Boys, was plagued by evidence of abuse from the very beginning. In 1903, an investigation revealed boys were being held in leg irons and beaten. During the ’50’s and ’60’s, the so-called ‘White House,’ a detention center for the boys, was said to be a place of torture for those who acted out.

Thomas Fred Medlock Jr. was incarcerated at the Florida facility in the mid-sixties. He recounts his harrowing arrival at the school after the Florida courts ordered him sent to the school for running away.

“Once I arrived at FSB my name was taken from me and I was then R297 for the rest of my time there,” he recounted on a web page devoted to the school’s alum. “After several days I was taken into a building, undressed and placed in a room with a blanket and a pot to use the bathroom in. There was a single bare light fixture in the ceiling that never shut off. I was fed once a day through a sliding slot at [the] bottom of the door with no silverware.”

Even today, Medlock insists, he does not know what he did to deserve his stint in ‘the hole.’ Yet, by Dozier standards, Medlock may have actually been one of the ‘lucky ones.’ Another boy, a 12-year-old sent around the same time as Medlock, returned home in a wheelchair, a patch over his eye and unable to speak. He soon died.

His brother, Jeffrey Sampson, is now left, decades later, trying to put together the pieces of his brother’s horrifying last days. “I do not know what he endured at Dozier and I may never know,” Jeffrey said of his brother Gregory, who died in 1966. “So rest in peace my dear brother, I still love you and miss you everyday.”

Yet unbelievably, despite the evidence of cruel abuse the state continued to operate until 2011, ordering boys deemed delinquent to the school and operating under a ‘professed ignorance‘ of the horrors inside the school.

“There have been allegations of abuse of the boys, and possibly even boys that were claimed to have run away but were never heard from,” said Arthur Eisenberg, Ph.D., chairman of Forensic and Investigative Genetics at the University of North Texas facility. “They never returned to their families. They just disappeared.”

Now the discovery of 55 graves, far more than the recorded number of deaths at the facility and some in a wooded area, point to a sinister atmosphere at the school that may have cost some young boys their life.

Sadly, the discovery has also revealed that even the very young may have suffered a cruel fate at the state-run school. “Last week, she [Attorney General Bondi] evoked the discovery of at least one boy, believed to be age 6, who was buried with a marble in his pocket,” a Tampa Bay Times editorial calling for justice for the boys read, “a small, poignant testament to the innocence lost when government shuts children out of sight and out of conscience.”

Photo Credit: The White House at Dozier/The White House Boys


About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.