The badly beaten body of this murder victim, 4-6 years old, the Boy in the Box, aka America’s Unknown Child, was found naked wrapped in a worn blanket (that had a green, white and rusty red block and diamond pattern), stuffed into a cardboard box that had once held a white bassinet purchased at JC Penney, and dumped in a garbage-filled area on Susquehanna Road in Philadelphia in February 1957.
The blanket had been divided in to three pieces, one was missing, the other was in the box and smeared with automotive grease. In addition to the blanket, police found a tan child’s scarf and a boy’s size-4, yellow flannel shirt determined to be his size, at the scene. There was also a long brown hair found with the body and a man’s handkerchief with the letter “G” on it. The handkerchief had short strands of hair on it, which were tested to see if they matched the victim’s. The results of the testing were never released.
The child is described as Caucasian with pale skin, 40 1/2 inches tall, weighing 30 pounds, blue eyes, medium-to-light brown or blond hair in an unusual bowl-shaped cut, which had likely been trimmed shortly before his death. The boy’s nails had been cut shortly before death. The soles of his feet were pruned indicating that he had been in the water during or shortly prior to his death.
He had all his baby teeth and was slightly bucktoothed. He had three moles on the left side of his face, one below his right ear, three on his chest, and one 2 inches above the wrist on his right arm.
Examiners found three scars which could have resulted from surgical procedures: one on the chest, one on the groin, which were both healed and hairline, and one on the left ankle, which could have been from an IV. Other scars included a 1 1/2-inch scar on the left side of his chest, a rounded, but irregular scar on his left elbow and a 1/2-inch long L-shaped scar on his chin. The child was circumcised and had no vaccination scars.
Near the box they found a blue corduroy, Ivy League-style cap with a buckle and leather strap across the back, which had been made in a south Philadelphia shop. The store owner described a man, who had no accent, between the ages of 26 and 30 who made the purchase, but the man was never identified.
Interest in the case has resurfaced many times since it was opened, the last time during the 1990s when the body was exhumed for DNA testing. Mitochondrial DNA is available.
Anyone with any information is urged to call the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Division at( 215) 686-3334. You may remain anonymous of you wish.