The Boy in the Box

The aforementioned little boy, also known as America’s Unknown Child was murdered in 1957, his body dumped in Fox Chase off Susquehannah Road in Philadephia. A La Salle college student strolling alongside the dump site spotted the boy but for some reason was afraid to contact police, perhaps fearing he would be blamed. The next day however, the turd screwed up his courage and contacted police.

americas_unknown_child_boxThe little boy, who was approximately 4 – 6 years old, wasn’t a pretty sight. He was nude, partially wrapped in a plaid blanket and placed inside, ironically, a J C Penney bassinet box. He had “washerwoman” fingers – the wrinkly pads on the fingertips when you’ve been in water for a long time. His hair was chopped off crudely, with bits of it still clinging to his pitiful little body, which was covered in fresh and old bruises (and God knows what else). In spite of intensive media coverage and devoted detective work, the boy’s identity, and his killers, were never found. In this picture, his head is facing the foreground, closest to the camera, and his body extends down into the box.

Personally I have a theory as to who killed the child: his mother. Why? He was freshly bathed, wrapped in a blanket and placed in a bassinet. These are all signs of affection and remorse after a “loved one” has been killed. Yes, the child was horrifically abused but it’s doubtful that a stranger or a male would have washed and wrapped the child in a blanket before abandoning him in the dumpsite. This seems to be a female act, in general.

boyinboxposterAlthough local police assumed they would quickly solve the case, decades have passed and the case remains open. At the time a man  who ran a foster home for “wayward” girls and his stepdaughter, were suspected in the murder. However police thoroughly investigated this lead twice, the second investigation occurring years later (when   had married his stepdaughter – ick). DNA later proved conclusively that the child wasn’t the girl’s.

A woman named “Mary” came forward and told police that her  mother had bought the child from his natural mother in 1954, shut him in the basement, and abused him for two years before beating him to death. Mary stated the child, Jonathan, had never spoken a word the entire time he lived with them. Mary was also abused by her mother. She stated Jonathan’s death was an accident.She was 12 when it happened. She remembered the boy had thrown up after eating some baked beans. Her mother, enraged at the mess, threw the boy in the bathtub and then beat him, slamming his head again and again against the bathroom floor. The boy let out a shriek, the only sound Mary ever heard him utter.  However investigation into her story led investigators to believe she was misleading them, particularly since her neighbours claimed the story was “ridiculous.” Also, Mary had a history of mental illness. To the cops it confirmed that her tales were the delusions of a madwoman. The matter was dropped.

The boy was first buried in a potter’s grave then later when his body was exhumed to extract DNA from a tooth, thboy_in_the_box_1957_recon_001ce boy was re-buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia, with a donated plot, coffin and beautiful tombstone.The media covered the funeral which was attended by many mourners. The stone reads “America’s Unknown Child.
The Vidocq Society, compromised of retired police officers and detectives, have been following the case for decades but they haven’t had significant leads. The picture on the left is a recent reconstruction of how the little boy may have looked in life (cute, isn’t he?)

America’s Most Wanted presented the case twice – in 1998 and 2008. Three television shows aired fictionalized accounts of the boy’s killing. Sadly, it appears that no one will ever know the little boy’s identity, nor that of his killers. The only explanation anyone can provide for his death with any surety is that the child lived and died at the hands of a cruel, sick abuser. When all is said and done, even if the killer is identified, she is probably dead and will never see justice for her crimes.



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