Ovell Krell was only 12 years old when her brother died -- but what she remembers most about him was his musical ability.
"He could walk into a music store and pick up any instrument they've ever made and within two minutes, he could play it," she said.
George Owen Smith, 14, tried to teach his sister how to play music, but those lessons stopped in 1940 when he was sentenced to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys after being caught in a stolen car with a 19-year-old friend.
Shortly after arriving at the reform school in Marianna, Fla., Smith reportedly escaped, but was found dead several months later under a house two miles away.
"Though the family told authorities to hold his remains at a local funeral, as they made their way on the long journey from Auburndale in a borrowed car, they arrived to be shown a mound of dirt by a superintendent who said that they had just buried him in an unmarked burial ground," according to University of South Florida associate professor of anthropology Erin Kimmerle.
That superintendent promised that a name plaque would be placed on Smith's grave -- a promise that was never met. Because of the mysterious circumstances of his death and the nature of his burial, Smith's mother refused to believe her son was indeed dead. That led Krell to make her parents a promise.
"I was searching for him, not only out of my love, but for a vow that I had made my mother and father on their deathbeds that I would find my brother if it was in my power, I would look till I died," Krell said.
Now, Krell has found her answer, thanks to a team of USF researchers.