“We’re not here to castigate the state of Florida, but it was important to me to be here so that my grandson could understand,” said her father, John Due, an attorney, who draped his arm over the boy’s shoulder. “So that we could resolve some of the bitterness.”
“That you all for your good work,” Tananarive told the researchers.
“Thank you for keeping the story alive,” her father said.
The Dues and the families of six other boys who died here have submitted DNA samples to help identify remains. They were happy the project was approved by the Florida Cabinet earlier this month, after several challenges.
Some Jackson County residents, led mostly by amateur historian Dale Cox, have been upset by the project and have tried to stop it. Cox only recently quit his campaign to halt the exhumations. Local politicians say they’re worried the media coverage of the exhumations will reflect poorly on rural Jackson County and on Marianna, “The City of Southern Charm,” population 9,000.
But many here have been welcoming. Deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office are providing security at the site. The Marianna police chief drove out to see if the researchers needed anything. One woman approached the group at a Mexican restaurant on Friday evening.
“Are you the folks doing the exhumations?” she whispered. “I hope you find the truth.”
Jan Poller, who has lived in Marianna since 1983, drove to the site Saturday morning and introduced herself to a USF representative. She said she wanted to thank the team.
“I know you got a lot of negative responses, but this is something that needs to be resolved,” she said. “If you had a relative missing all these years, you’d want to know what happened.”