Monday, December 15, 2008


Thirty-one crosses dot a clearing on the grounds of the former Florida School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

Roger Kiser, Dick Colon and Robert Strayley are original "White House Boys" who pushed for the investigation.

Florida Govenor Charlie Crist has ordered an investigation into the crosses as a possible burial site.

Investigating reform school's past won't be easy

By Rich PhillipsCNN Senior Producer / Mon December 15, 2008

MARIANNA, Florida (CNN) -- Disturbing memories came rushing back when four men in their 60s, who call themselves the "White House Boys," started sharing stories over the Internet about their experiences at the Florida School for Boys.

Roger Kiser, Dick Colon, Robert Straley and Michael O'McCarthy allege that unspeakable acts of torture happened at that reform school nearly half a century ago -- that boys died, and that their deaths were covered up.

"Well, he ran away, and the swamp got him," was one story Kiser said school administrators told him. "The gators got him. Water moccasins got him" were others.

The White House Boys pushed Gov. Charlie Crist for an investigation.

Last week, Crist ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into who might lie beneath the 31 anonymous crosses on the grounds of the school, just south of the Alabama border.


Finding records and witnesses from decades ago is a massive task and investigators are asking for the public's help. Records can be lost or destroyed and memories can fade or distort what happened.

And so, it may be months before authorities decide whether to dig under the 31 white crosses. It could take years for the investigation to be completed.

Some nagging questions are bound to come up. Where was the public outcry? Why did no one speak out until now? Why weren't the families searching for their missing sons?


2 comments: said...

I was there! 1952 to 1955. I know the horror! I think I hold the record for the longest stay! I was at "the white house" every week, then they suddenly kicked me out when I reached " explorer with 3-4s. I was on the must list. I was sent there when I was 12 years old, a scrawny terrified child, from a home of frequent physical abuse, and preyed on by sexual predators,when I left I was 15 years old, I was a monster, full of rage and totally unfit to be loosed on the public.The only person there who treated me well was a Mr. dickson? dixon? dickinson? you should know him.

Anonymous said...

The horror of physical and mental abuse suffered by those boys is immeasurable and the lasting physcological scars would have to be even worse.

I am not trying to mitigate their suffering or pain but whether is was the Florida School for Boys, The Maryland Training School or any other of dozens of such "schools" around the country that type of abuse was not uncommon.

I can't speak for conditions at Marianna but I can definitely tell you that the Maryland Training School and other institutions for childrean were just as cruel and onerous.

I speak as the youngest (at that tim)"inmate" to have been subjected to the tender ministrations of "staff" that were overburdened with their own physcological baggage.

I was six years old when I was sent to the Maryand Training School for boys, just out side of Twonson, MD. My "crime"? I ran away from home.

Rasmutn said he was full of rage and totally unfit to be loosed on the public. Hear him well... because these "schools" were training grounds where children learned about sex, drugs, abuse and crime.

Rehabilitation came too late for too few. The ones who survived to live "normal" lives might be considered "lucky" except for the nightmares that will never go away.

I empathize with The White House Boys. However, can guarantee you that the State of Florida will do its level best to cover up any wrong doing.

Murder? Rape? Extortion? Hell, yes! Those things were the currency of the day. Not only in Florida by around the country as well.