Pennsylvania- Philadelphia- The Boy In The Box

Unidentified White Male

* Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 25, 1957
* The child was severely beaten and bruised.

Vital Statistics

* Estimated age: 4-6 years old
* Approximate Height and Weight: 40 1/2 inches; 30 pounds
* Distinguishing Characteristics: He had blue eyes and pale skin. His hair was medium to light brown, or blond in color, and was trimmed in an odd, bowl-shaped haircut. There were seven scars on the body, three of which could have resulted from surgical procedures. Two of these “surgical” scars were on the chest and groin. They had healed quite well, leaving only a hairline trace. There was also a scar on the boy’s left ankle, which looked like a “cut-down” incision. Such an incision is made to expose a vein so that a needle may be inserted to give an infusion or transfusion. There was a 1 1/2 – inch scar on the left side of the chest, and a round, irregular scar on the left elbow. On the chin was an L-shaped scar – a quarter of an inch long in each direction. There was no vaccination scar. The boy had been circumcised. He had several small moles on his body, including three on the left side of his face; one below his right ear; three on his chest; and one on his right arm, two inches above his wrist.
* Dentals: The boy had a full set of baby teeth, and was also slightly bucktoothed.
* Clothing: A tan child’s scarf and a boy’s yellow flannel shirt were also recovered at the scene. Investigators determined that the size four shirt matched the child’s size at the time of his homicide. A child’s pair of black shoes were also located; however, they did not fit the unidentified boy. An Ivy League style cap made of blue corduroy was also found near the box; the hat had a leather strap and buckle across the back. It was determined that the cap was made in a south Philadelphia shop; the store owner recalled that a man between the ages of 26 – 30 made the purchase. He did not speak with an accent. The purchaser was never identified.
* DNA: Mitochondrial Available

Case History
The boy, referred to as “America’s Unknown Child” or “The Boy In The Box,” has never been identified.
The child’s unclothed body was placed inside a cardboard box and deposited at a garbage-filled locale on Susquehanna Road in Philadelphia in February 1957. His body was beaten, although coroners’ investigations were unable to pinpoint any previous broken bones or inflicted trauma. The child’s nails were recently trimmed. The palm of his right hand and the soles of his feet were rough and wrinkled, indicating that the limbs had been submerged in water prior or shortly after his death. Strands of the child’s own hair were present on his body, leading authorities to believe that his hair had been cut shortly before or following his homicide.
The boy was wrapped in a large piece of an inexpensive, well-worn blanket with a faded design of diamonds and blocks in green, rust-colored red, brown and white. An additional piece of the blanket was found inside the box, which was smeared with automotive grease. The third piece of the blanket remains missing.
The box which contained the child’s body was from JC Penney’s in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and had been used for a white bassinet. Records were unable to pinpoint the purchaser of the item.
This case has been reopened and closed many times in over 40 years. The boy’s remains were exhumed in the late 90’s for DNA testing; he was then re-interred into a tomb marked “America’s Unknown Child” in Philadelphia.
A long strand of brown hair — identified as being from someone else, not the child — was removed from the scene. In addition, a man’s handkerchief with the initial “G” was located near the box. Short stands of hair were present on the material and were tested to determine if the hair came from the unidentified boy; the results of the tests are unknown.
If you have any information as to the identity of this boy or the circumstances of his death, please contact:
Philadelphia Police Department
Homicide Division
You may remain anonymous if you wish.