The name of “Boy in the Box” has finally been decided.
On Thursday, police publicly identified a Philadelphia boy who was found dead in a box 65 years ago as 4-year-old Joseph Augustus Zarelli.
The identification done by DNA analysis represented investigators’ biggest break in the decades-old unsolved case when a child was found wrapped in a blanket inside a cardboard box in late February 1957. , showing “recent and past evidence”. It’s traumatic,” said Philadelphia Police Chief Daniel Outlaw.
The incident has generated “huge” public interest, Outlaw told reporters on Thursday. However, no one ever claimed that Joseph was their child, and despite numerous attempts over the years to identify him, his identity remained a mystery. did.
But this week, things changed when police announced they had successfully identified the child with the help of detective work and genetic genealogists. A family reunion that has lost a loved one.
“For 65 years, the story of America’s Unknown Child has haunted this community, the Philadelphia Police Department, our country, and the world,” Outlaw said at a press conference Thursday, addressing the case. I admired generations of police officers who worked, some of whom are no longer alive. “Despite the fact that all legitimate claims to Josef Augustus Zarelli’s identity and his own existence were taken away, he was never forgotten.”
Officials hope the techniques used to identify Joseph many years later will help other unsolved cases and future cases. The breakthrough “brings hope that there will never be another unidentified murder victim in the city of Philadelphia,” Outlaw said.
Still, while authorities are celebrating Joseph’s identification this week, an investigation into who was responsible for his death is ongoing.
Lieutenant Jason Smith of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Division said: “There are doubts as to who is responsible, but it is irresponsible to share these allegations as this is an ongoing criminal investigation. He hopes the ID news will prompt “an avalanche of tips from the public,” but notes that the age of the case poses an “uphill battle” for investigators. Admitted.
“We may not arrest,” Smith said. “We may never reveal the identity of the (murderer), but we will do our best.”
On February 25, 1957, Joseph’s body was found in a box near Susquehanna Road in a wooded area in northeastern Philadelphia. At the time, Outlaw told reporters on Thursday that it was clear the child had “experienced fear that no one, no one should be exposed to.”
He was “badly beaten,” Smith added, and multiple bruises were visible on his body.
An autopsy confirmed that the child was between the ages of 4 and 6 and was found to have “suffered multiple abrasions, bruises, subdural hemorrhage, and pleural effusion.”
There was great public interest in the case, and police received and followed up with hundreds of information from local and national sources. “But none of them can reveal the identity of the child,” Smith said, adding that if the victim remains unidentified, it would be very difficult to solve the murder and bring the killer to justice. He added that it would be
DNA was discovered in the 1800s, but DNA technology wasn’t that advanced until the 1950s, chief coroner Dr. Constance D’Angelo explained Thursday. Instead, “visual identification” was the primary method of identifying people, so authorities put pictures of children in newspapers, put up posters around town, and photographed gas bills sent to residents. I have attached.
Still, there was no breakthrough in the case.
The boy was originally buried at Potter’s Field in Philadelphia, but after his remains were exhumed in 1998 and reburied in Ivy Hill Cemetery, his gravestone now reads “Unknown Child of America.” ” is written.
Investigators retained some of the child’s remains for future testing, Smith said.
Smith said police exhumed the remains again in 2019 and determined the case could benefit from more modern forensic techniques.
Now, the DNA test results have been uploaded to the DNA database, Smith said. And with the help of genetic genealogists at Identiffinders International, a forensic genetic genealogy firm, detectives were able to locate and contact relatives in the child’s maternal family.
Investigators identified his birth mother and obtained his birth record, which also listed his father’s name. Further investigation led detectives to an individual who was later confirmed through additional testing to be the child’s father.
Police declined to identify the children’s parents, but Smith said they were both deceased.
Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, president of Identifinders International, said it was the most difficult case of her entire career, partly because her DNA had been degraded. But the discovery “means we can pay upfront,” she told her CNN.
Meanwhile, the Vidocq Society, Philadelphia’s crime-solving club and longtime advocate for the case, is finally preparing to name the child’s grave.
“Joseph Augustus Zarelli is no longer the boy in the box, he is no longer obscure,” Bill Fletcher of the Bidock Society said Thursday.