Anthropologists have found evidence of 98 deaths at a notorious former reform school in Florida which has long faced accusations of abuse, beatings, rape and murder.
The researchers used ground penetrating radar to find at least 50 grave sites at the Arthur G Dozier School for Boys and said there could be more yet to be discovered. Evidence of other deaths was established by using archive records, other historical documents and interviews with relatives.
An investigation four years ago by Florida police that relied on the school's own records had reported that 81 died at the school, of whom 31 were buried on the property at a cemetery marked with white metal crosses.
But the team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida said they had verified the deaths of 96 children, mostly African-American boys ranging in age from six to 18, and two adult staff members, between 1914 and 1973. The reform school in Marianna, Florida, which was the largest in the state, opened in 1900 and closed in 2011.
According to the scientists' report: "The cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown. Where causes could be documented, the most common were infectious disease, fires, physical trauma and drowning.
"Many questions persist about who is buried at the school and the circumstances surrounding their deaths."
Seven died during escape attempts, including one 16 year-old who suffered gunshot wounds to the chest, and 20 died within the first three months of arriving, the report said.
Records indicated that 45 were buried on school grounds from 1914 to 1952.
The new grave sites were found in an area known as "Boot Hill," but the anthropologists said there may be more elsewhere on the 1400-acre campus.
Charlie Crist, the state's then governor, ordered the police investigation in 2008 after former students from the 1950s and 1960s claimed they and other inmates were beaten and abused.
They called themselves "the White House boys" because they said the abuse took place in a small white, 11-room building.
One survivor, Roger Kiser, told NPR last year that he witnessed one boy die in the bathtub after being beaten. "I thought he'd been mauled by the dogs because I thought he had ran. I never did find out the true story on that," he was quoted as saying.
Many questions persist about who is buried at the school and the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
"There was the boy I saw who was dead who came out of the dryer. They put him in one of those large dryers," he said in the interview.
The anthropologists have recommended the exhumation of remains for skeletal autopsies to determine causes of death.
Among those who died at the school in 1934 was Thomas Varnadoe, just one month after he was remanded there aged 13 when he was accused of "malicious trespassing" through a woman's yard on the way home from school.
His nephew Glen Varnadoe said: "We as a family are eternally grateful. We really have no idea where Thomas is buried, on the north side or the south side of the campus."
The Daily Telegraph, London