Unsolved: The Boy in the Box (1957)

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On This next case we are going to cover The Boy in the box this has been an open case for 64 years. This one will contain graphic images, please advise.


It was February 1957, a body of a young boy was found wrapped in a plaid blanket in the woods in Fox Chase Philadelphia. The little boy inside the cardboard box was naked and the cardboard box was the box from a bassinet sold by J.C. Penney’s. The little boy inside had recently been cropped, maybe after his death, there was also signs of malnourishment as well as surgical scars on his ankle and groin and a odd L Shaped scar under his chin.

The cardboard box and body was found by a young man who was checking his muskrat traps, fearing that the police would take his traps he didn’t report the body and the cardboard box. But then a few days later a cold student spotted a rabbit running into the underbrush he knew there was traps in the area so he stopped his car and found the body, and just like the young man he did not have any contact with the police be he did report what he found, but not till the following day after hearing of the disappearance of another little child.

The police received the report and opened an investigation on February 26, 1957. The boys fingerprints were taken but no other useful information would follow.

The case attracted massive attention with the media in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The Philadelphia Inquirer had 400,000 flyers printed out and sent out across the area and they even included them in every gas bill in Philadelphia. Now that’s what I talk about coverage. They wanted to make sure everybody got a look at this boy.

The crime scene was searched over and over again by at least 270 police recruits from the academy, while searching they discovered a man’s blue corduroy cap, a child’s scarf, and a man’s white handkerchief with the letter “G” embroidered in the corner but with all this evidence it would lead nowhere.

The police also took the risk and passed out a post-mortem picture of the boy which by the way he was fully dressed and in a seated position. Which is weird…they tried to make him looked what he would have looked like alive, they hoped this would lead to a clue, but the case still remains unsolved to this day.

On March 21, 2016 the National center for Missing and Exploited Children released a facial reconstruction of the little boy of what he would look like then and added it to the database but no hits have came through still to this day.

In August 2018, a genetic genealogist, who helped identify the Golden State Killer use a DNA profiling technique said that she was going to use the same method to try and identify the little boy in the box. There have been other amateur groups that have also tried to solve his identity but have yet to find out who he is even 64 years later.

There have been may tips and theories that have advanced this case. But most of them have been dismissed, but there was 2 theories that have been considered interest among the police and media and they have both been extensively investigated.

One theory concerns a foster home that was located around 1.5 miles from where the body was found. 1960, an employee of the medical examiner’s office dogged the case until his death in 1993, had made contact with a New Jersey psychic who told him to look for a house that matched the foster home, and when the psychic came to Philadelphia she led the employee directly to the foster home.

When the employee attended a estate sale at the home, he found a bassinet that was similar to the one sold at J.C. Penney. He also found blankets hanging on a clothesline that resembled the one that the boy was wrapped in. The employee believed that the boy belonged to the stepdaughter of the man who ran the foster home, and they got rid of his body so the stepdaughter would not be exposed as an unwed mother, he believed the boy’s death had been an accident. So just because the mother  was unwed they wanted to get rid of the body of her little boy?

With all the circumstantial evidence, the police were still not able to find any definite links between the two.

In 1998, the police lieutenant who was in charge of the investigation and several members of a group of retired police officers and profilers interviewed the foster father and the stepdaughter who he eventually married, but the investigation was closed.

The 2nd theory came forward in February 2002 by a woman who everybody knew as “Martha.” Police consider “Martha’s” story to be plausible but were very concerned by her testimony as she had troubles with mental illness. She claimed that her mother purchased the unknown boy (his name was Jonathan) from his birth parents in the summer of 1954. Another coincidence was that he was subjected to extreme physical and sexual abuse for about 2 ½ years, during one evening the little boy got sick and threw up his baked beans and was beat to death which involved slamming his head on the floor multiple times, and then given a bath which is when he died, and guess what, these exact details matched the information known only to police as it was not released to the public as the coroner had found that the boy’s stomach contained the remains of baked beans and his fingers were water wrinkled. So your telling me this woman could tell the police this but they had nothing else to go on? Seriously? This is probably who killed this little boy.

The boy in the box was buried in potters field but in 1998 his body was exhumed for the purpose of collecting DNA which came from his tooth enamel. He was reburied in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia who donated a plot of land and headstone says “America’s unknown child.” City residents make sure the grave is decorated with flowers and stuffed animals.

Even with all the theories and no other evidence this case will probably remain open and unsolved. Its been 64 years and they still do not have a clue who this little boy is he was just 4 years old.


Boy in the Box (Philadelphia) – Wikipedia

Boy In The Box: America’s Unknown Child | Historic Mysteries

Boy In The Box – Talk Murder To Me

The Boy in the Box | Cold Case Wiki | Fandom

UNSOLVED COLD CASE MURDER: The Boy in the Box/America’s Unknown Child – The Missing and the Lost