He’s in his 60’s, married for 42 years, and owns a multimillion-dollar company. He established a scholarship fund at the Arthur Dozier School for Boys where he speaks each year to the students about hard work and a hopeful future.
It was at that same school he learned his trade as an electrician, which turned him into a self-made success story. But, the future wasn’t always so bright for Dick Colon.
Roger Kiser, Dick Colon, Robert Straley and Michael O'McCarthy call themselves the ‘White House Boys’. All served time at the Florida School for Boys during the 1950s and ‘60s.
The men connected on the internet and began sharing stories of horrific physical beatings with long leather straps, reinforced with metal. Often, a large industrial fan was turned on during the beatings to drown out the screams of the boys, as they were tortured.
A makeshift cemetery on the grounds of the school holds thirty-one steel tube crosses. Painted white and unmarked, the men believe the crosses mark the graves of boys who suddenly vanished from the school, never to be seen again.
When boys disappeared from the school, administrators explained it away, said former student Roger Kiser.
They'd say, "Well, he ran away and the swamp got him," Kiser recalled. Or, "The gators got him." Or, 'Water moccasins got him."
It was the ‘White House Boys’ who convinced Florida Governor Charlie Crist to open an investigation into the school. They believe authorities will find the remains of children sent to the Florida School for Boys half a century ago.
Crist wants Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FDLE, to determine if anyone is buried there, whether crimes were committed, and if so, who was responsible.
The investigation will not be an easy one. Locating records and witnesses from fifty years ago will be difficult if not impossible. Many of the administrators and supervisors of the reform school are long dead.
The ‘White House Boys’ live with painful memories and say they want justice. They have waited most of their lives and will wait as long as it takes.