Wednesday, December 10, 2008

White House Boys, Search of 32 Graves Ordered at North Florida Dozier Reform School, 2nd Teen Scandal for Panama City - Marianna Area

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has ordered an investigation to determine whether the remains of 32 students were buried decades ago in shallow graves on the grounds of a former reform school for boys, Marianna in the Florida Panhandle.

See also related story about Henry Dickens and nurse Kristen Schmidt, Federal Probe lingers in Florida boot camp death of Black youth, cover-up, Panama City in the Florida Panhandle.

Now there are going to be two Federal Investigations into the murder of teen's in the custody of the Florida Correctional system!

Florida Authorities are investigating whether boys were beaten decades ago in this building, known as the White House. The governor's action came at the urging of four former residents of what was known as the Florida School for Boys. The four alleged that students were abused and killed by guards decades ago at the school in Marianna, Florida, just south of the Georgia border.

In a letter Crist asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the graves and determine whether any crimes were committed. "Questions remain unanswered as to the identity of the deceased and the origin of these graves," Crist wrote in his letter to the FDLE.

"The main goal is to determine the location of the graves, who owned the property at the time, and determine if any crimes were committed," FDLE spokesman Kristin Perezluha told CNN. Authorities are only now beginning their investigation, so no one can say for certain who, if anyone, is buried in the 32 graves with the white metal crosses.

Four former residents of the school on Monday asked Crist to launch the investigation. They call themselves the White House Boys after the concrete building, where, they claim, the beatings and torture were carried out by the "one armed man". The White House Boys -- Roger Kiser, Michael McCarthy, Bryant Middleton and Dick Colon -- found each other on the Internet, after Kiser started a Web site. They began to talk about experiences at the reform school and eventually decided to go public, and call for an investigation.

UPDATE...Troy Tidwell, the former supervisor and the "one armed man" still lives in Marianna FL would not talk with a CNN crew that visited his home on 12/14/2008, I hope news crews and satellite trucks start parking out in front of this dirt bags home everyday !

The four believe many of the boys who were sent to the White House were killed and their remains buried on the grounds of what is now known as the Dozier School for Boys. Reached at his home in the Florida panhandle, Middleton, 64, was told by a CNN producer that the governor ordered the probe."My god! That's remarkable. My god! That's all I ever wanted," he said. "That will begin a lot of the healing for those that survived that school.""Some of us will never get over the brutality, the sexual assaults and the fear. But this is a major step in the right direction," he said.

Middleton told CNN he was "an incorrigible youth of 14 or 15" when he was sent to the reform school for breaking and entering. During a 30-minute phone interview, he recounted story after horrific story about his time there. Middleton said he took six trips to the concrete White House, where he endured brutal beatings. He says boys were regularly struck with a metal-reinforced double strap with a long wooden handle. "You could hear it coming through the air and when it hit your body, the pain was unbelievable," he recalled. "
They just beat you to the point of unconsciousness, or you could no longer understand what was happening to you." I have also been told that with some of the boys, the giant strap was turned sideways so that on impact the sheet metal edge would slice open the skin of the children, this is barbaric, what kind of man was the one armed tormentor, Mr. Troy Tidwell Jr, who is still living in Marianna, Florida..... he is 84 today.

Mr. Tidwell Jr. the one armed man, who accidentally severed his left arm with a shotgun when he was 6 and his father Mr. Tidwell Sr. and a Mr. Hess were the chief tormentors at the Dozier School for boys.

The White House boys, who are all white, told CNN that black kids at the school were beaten even more savagely than white kids. Another question no one seems able to answer: Why was there no outcry from the parents of boys who disappeared? Why did no one look for them?

Colon and Middleton say it's a valid question. They firmly believe that bodies will be found, and they will be the bodies of both black and white boys. "I believe, in my own heart, that there has been a cover-up", said Middleton.

Added Colon, "White, African-American, they're all there ... I believe they will find crushed skulls, and broken bones -- and hopefully, one day, the murderers, like the one armed man."

Following article from a prior post of March 8th 2008 by Roger Dean Kiser, Sr. and describes the White House torture; I was about 12 years old, living in the Florida School for Boys at Marianna, when they called me to the head office. They told me that I would soon visit the ‘White House,’ which was a torture room for boys who broke one of their many rules or tried to escape. I was sent to the school for trying to escape from the Children's Home Society orphanage in Jacksonville. I had been incarcerated there for 10 years for the ‘crime’ of having no parents to care for me. When I heard that they were taking me to this ‘White House,’ an extreme fear came over me. I almost passed out and was trembling so badly that my legs collapsed under me. I fell to the floor and lay there. The men told me to "get my sorry butt up" and sit down on the hard, wooden bench outside the office. I waited there for the two men who would take me to the ‘White House.’

After a wait of about 30 minutes, these two men came to get me. They grabbed me by my arms and lifted me off the bench. There were several other boys in the office with me, so I had to try to act as though I was not scared, but they knew. The two men walked with me across the grass circle that divided the offices from the ‘White House.’ We stopped at another office and a man with one arm walked out (Troy Tidwell). He took the place of one of the men holding me. We continued walking toward the mess hall. As we rounded the building, I could see it right in front of me: ‘THE WHITE HOUSE.’ My mind was just going crazy with fear.

When we reached the door, one of the men took out his keys and stuck one into the lock. I looked back over my shoulder and I saw about 50 boys. They stared in silence. As the door opened, an ungodly odor filled my nose and I could hardly breathe. I remember trying to step through the doorway, but the odor was so overwhelming that I fell in the short hallway inside.

My whole body was just numb and it was very difficult for me to breathe. I tried to pull the shirt down from around my neck, but the man jerked it once again and hit me on the top of the head with his knuckles. I hit the floor again and bloodied my nose from the impact. The two men picked me up and carried me into a small room, which had nothing in it except a bunk bed and a pillow.

They put me down on the floor and ordered me to lie on the bed facing the wall. Crying. I did what they told me to do. One of them said to move my hands to the top of the bunk bed and grab the bar at the headboard. I did so as quickly as I could. Not one sound could be heard. I turned over quickly and looked at the one who was standing near me. He had a large leather strap in his hand. "Turn your damn head back toward the wall!" he yelled. I knew what was going to happen and it was going to be very bad.

I had been told what to expect by some of the boys, who were taken to the ‘White House.’ I never heard from some of them again. I also heard that this giant strap was made of two pieces of leather, with a piece of sheet metal sewn in between the halves.
Again, everything was dead silent. There was an ungodly look on his face and I knew he was going to beat me to death. I will never forget that look for as long as I live. I tried to jump off the bed, but I was knocked backward when the leather strap hit me on the side of the face.
The men grabbed me and held me to the floor. I was yelling to God to save me, begging for someone, anyone, to help. There was blood all over everything. It was everywhere. "Please forgive me! Please forgive me," I repeated at the top of my voice. "Please forgive me! Dear God, please help me!" But it didn't do any good; God didn’t hear me that day.

After about five minutes of begging, pleading and crying, they told me to get back on the bed and grab the top rail again. They warned that if I tried to get off the bed, the whole thing would repeat from the beginning. I slowly pulled myself up off the floor and got back onto the bed. Again, I grabbed the rail and waited; everything became quiet, except for the two men breathing really hard.
Once again, I tightened up my buttocks and waited. Then all of a sudden, it happened. I thought my head would explode. The thing came down on me over and over. I screamed and kicked and yelled as much as I could, but it did no good. He (Troy Tidwell) just kept beating me over and over. However, I never let go of that bed rail. Then there was nothing.

The next thing I remember, I was sitting on another wooden bench in the one-armed man's office. I remember wiping the slobber and blood from my mouth. My body felt like it was on fire. I stood and found that I hardly could. God, God, God, it hurt badly.
I will never forget that until the day I die. One of the men in the office yelled at me to sit down. I told him that I had to go to the bathroom really bad. He pointed at a doorway and said that it was the bathroom; he told me to "make it quick." I slowly walked into the bathroom and closed the door. I looked in the mirror. There was dried blood all over my black and blue face, my hair and in my mouth. I took my torn shirt off, which was hanging from the waistband of my pants and then I turned around and looked into the mirror.

My back was black and blue, and also bloody. I almost panicked out of my mind when I saw my reflection. I looked like a monster. I started to cry, but I covered my mouth with both hands so no other boys would hear me. I loosened my belt buckle to get my pants down. It was very painful, but the worst was yet to come. Once they were down, I noticed that my legs were all bloody and my skin was black in color. I stood over the toilet and tried to urinate, but it just would not come out.

I pulled my pants back up and washed my face, mainly because I did not want the other boys to see that I had been crying. I was so scared that I could not stop shaking. Finally, I walked back into the outer office and saw Mr. SeaLander, my cottage house parent, standing by the doorway. He took me back to my cottage.
He called the office to complain about what happened to me. Then he took me to the hospital where the old nurse, Ms. Womack, soaked me in Epsom salts. With tweezers, she pulled the underwear from my skin.

Why was this done to me? I never knew until years later, why I was beaten like that. They did it because I said ‘shit’ when I slipped on the diving board at the pool. I do not even remember saying that kind of word. I never was a boy who cursed. I will never forget for as long as I will live, that vicious beating done to me without even knowing why. I will never forget the monster that I saw in the mirror that day. I will never forget what adults are capable of doing to a child.
I will never forget that the State of Florida was behind what happened to me and to many, many other boys - just for running away from an abusive orphanage.
BACK TO PANAMA CITY FL, Federal probe lingers in Florida boot camp death, October 13, 2008 By Melissa Nelson Panama City Fl – A looming federal investigation and possible trial is making it difficult for seven juvenile Florida boot camp guards and a nurse acquitted last year of state charges in the death of a 14-year-old boy to move on with their lives, their attorneys said.

The eight left a Panama City courthouse with their jubilant families one year ago on Oct. 12, 2007, after jurors found them not guilty in the beating death of Martin Lee Anderson. The death and verdict prompted protests and Florida's juvenile boot camps were abolished. The eight employees were fired from the Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp.

"All of their lives have changed. They are no longer doing what was their first choice in life to do," said Hoot Crawford, attorney for former camp guard Henry Dickens, who is now a hotel security guard. Dickens had wanted to dedicate his life to reforming juvenile offenders but "now he is doing something very different," Crawford said.

The federal inquiry remains open, said Karen Rhew, a Tallahassee-based assistant U.S. attorney. She declined to give other details or a time-frame for a decision on whether or not there will be a second trial. Attorneys for the eight said their clients did not want to talk publicly about the verdict because of the federal investigation.

Anderson died Jan. 6, 2006, a day after being hit and kicked by the guards as the nurse watched. He had just been assigned to the camp. He was caught trespassing at a school, which violated his probation imposed after he was convicted of helping his cousins steal their grandmother's car.

A video of the 30-minute altercation showed the seven men punching him and using knee strikes against him, pushing ammonia capsules into his nose and dragging his limp body around the yard. The video also showed the nurse doing nothing to help Anderson or stop the men.

A coroner initially determined Anderson fatally hemorrhaged because he had an undiagnosed sickle cell trait, a condition which can cause red cells to change shape and not carry oxygen when the body is under extreme stress. A second autopsy, completed when then-Gov. Jeb Bush ordered an independent prosecutor take over the case, determined the guards killed Anderson by depriving him of oxygen when they pushed the ammonia tablets into his nose, covered his mouth and didn't give him time to recover his breath.

During the two-week trial, the defense argued employees were using accepted camp tactics and that the sickle cell trait caused Anderson's death. Jurors, who spent days watching and rewatching the tape, agreed and acquitted the eight of all charges. Anderson was black, the jury was all-white. The defendants were black, white and Asian.

The verdict prompted protests two hours away in Tallahassee where angry college students blocked downtown intersections, calling for a federal investigation. U.S. Justice Department officials calmed the students by meeting with protest leaders and assuring them they would investigate.

Messages seeking comment from Anderson's family were not returned by Benjamin Crump, the attorney who represented the boy's parents in their lawsuit against the state. The family was awarded $7.4 million to settle lawsuits against the state and Bay County (Panama City Fl).

Waylon Graham, attorney for lead guard Charles Helms, says he believes no decision on federal charges will come until after the Nov. 4 election. He said Helms and the others are "still all jittery and nervous about what the feds might do." Robert Sombathy, who represented guard Patrick Garrett at trial, said he hoped and believed that "the investigation is being done above politics and that this doesn't come to do what is the right political thing to do."

The Rev. Rufus Woods, pastor of Love Missionary Baptist Church in the east Panama City neighborhood where Anderson grew up, said time has tempered some of the community's initial outrage, but he and others hope federal charges will come. "We remain prayerful that we won't be disappointed," he said.

It appears the Florida Department of Juvenile Corrections has bodies buried from Panama City to Marianna in the Florida Panhandle.

Bill Warner
Private Investigator
WBI Inc Private Detective Agency
Phone 941-926-1926