A boy who had been missing for over 70 years has been identified and will finally be with his parents again, if only in their graves. The boy was sent to the notorious Arthur G. Dozier School for boys for stealing a car when he was 14 back in 1940. That was the last time his parents ever saw him, according to Bayou Buzz News on Aug. 9.
The parents were told that their son George Owen Smith had run away and was found dead of pneumonia after hiding under a vacant house in town. The school’s notorious history was recently brought to light again when a group of archeologists started a dig on the grounds in hopes of identifying the mass graves filled with boys who died at the school.
George Owen Smith was the first body taken from the ground during that dig. While his parents are no longer alive, his sister is, and she promised her parents that she wouldn’t stop searching for her brother. She also promised if he was dead, she would bury him with her parents, according to CNN News.
Ovell Krell, George Owen Smith’s sister, had DNA taken by the group trying to identify the bodies of the boys buried on the school grounds. She was one of many families that offered up their DNA in hopes of finding a match and getting the remains of their family members back home for a proper burial.
The 85-year-old Krell was ecstatic when she received a visit from the head of the excavation team along with Hillsboro County officers with the news that they had found her brother. The woman running the dig said she went personally to Krell's home out of respect, but mostly because she didn’t want Krell to be alone when she got the news.
The team doing the excavation is led by Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist from the University of South Florida. When she started this dig, it was her hope to identify all the boys remains who were put in the graves decades ago without so much as a thought given to them or their families.
The Dozier School for Boys closed in 2011 for financial reasons, but when it closed it left behind the 111-year legacy of brutality. The team found 55 graves, buried under 31 rusty white crosses leaning every which way in the field around the buildings. The horror stories coming from the institution for decades described the Dozier school as a place of nightmares.