Ex-Reform School Student Says He Witnessed Boy's Beating Death

As authorities began investigating unmarked graves near a reform school where boys were brutally abused in the 1950s and '60s, one former student remembered the horrors that happened inside.

Don Stratton, now 63, went to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla., and says he saw the unimaginable at the place known simply as the "White House."

"I witnessed them killing a boy, OK. They beat him to death," Stratton told MyFOXTampaBay.com. "The state of Florida beat him at the White House. And I watched it; I seen it."

He said the school controlled students with fear. Twice a week, the children — ages 9 to 16 — would be taken into a room and beaten. The boys called it "going down," according to MyFOXTampaBay.com.

"They turned the fan on, so you wouldn't hear the screaming. But I could hear the screaming 'cause I was right there," said Stratton, who was beaten three times.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wrote to the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Tuesday, asking authorities to determine the origin of the more than 30 unidentified graves and whether any crimes were committed.

The agency said it planned an immediate investigation.

The move comes after a group of former inmates, now in their 60s, asked for an investigation into the graves marked only by white metal crosses — which they believe contain the bodies of boys who were beaten to death. The men say they were severely beaten while they were at the detention center.

Stratton also wants retribution.

"I would like to see the state of Florida take responsibility for what happened when I was 13 years old," he said.

Click here for more on this story from MyFOXTampaBay.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.