The boy in the box - a terrible mystery unsolved
Despite the appearance of many theories over the years, the boy’s mystery in the box has remained unsolved for over 50 years.
At Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia, there is a large grave, almost completely covered with stuffed toys brought by local families and curious visitors. The tombstone reads: "Unknown Child of America." This is a constant reminder of the child who lies under him: his corpse, which no one has identified, was found in the box. The case of the boy in the box became one of the most difficult crimes of Philadelphia, perplexing the police for more than 50 years, but even today many questions remain unanswered.
In 1957, a young muskrat hunter was going to test his traps set up near a park north of Philadelphia. When he moved through the forest, he found a small cardboard box lying on the ground. Inside was the body of a boy, naked, but wrapped in a blanket.Fearing that the police would confiscate his traps if he reports a box, the young hunter ignored it and continued to hunt.
A few days later, a college student, passing by, noticed a rabbit running along the highway. The student knew that traps were being set up in the area, and he stopped to make sure that the animal was safe. When he crossed the undergrowth in search of a trap, he came across a box. Although the student was also afraid to communicate with the police, he still reported on the body.
Given that the boy was between three and seven years old, the police hoped that they would quickly identify him. However, as soon as they saw the body, their hopes collapsed.
His hair was matted and seemed to be cropped recently, as their shreds were still on his body. His body was very emaciated and covered with surgical scars, most of all on his ankles, groin and chin. Despite the fact that he looked abandoned, the police took his fingerprints, hoping to find similarities. Unfortunately, it did not give any results.
Over the next few years, more than 400,000 flyers were sent out across the state of Philadelphia, as well as to several cities in Pennsylvania.A judicial facial reconstruction was made, and a drawing of a happy little boy was posted on all the posters. Leaflets were posted in police stations, post offices and even put in envelopes with gas bills, but no one could provide any information.
The crime scene itself was searched and investigated several times, but, apart from a few items of children's clothing, nothing was found. To this day, the identity of the boy remains the same unsolved secret as in 1957.
Although the investigation was frozen for several years, interest in the case by amateur investigators spawned several theories.
In 1960, a psychic told a forensic medical officer that a boy in a box was from a local orphanage. The police went to the shelter and found there blankets, similar to the one in which he was wrapped, hung on a clothesline, and a wicker bed, which was sold in the same box in which the boy was found.
The employee put forward a version that the boy was born to the daughter of the manager of the shelter and that his death was accidental. Despite the employee’s confidence in the authenticity of these facts, no connection was found between the boy in the box and the orphanage.
Only more than 40 years later another theory emerged.
The woman, referred to as “M,” claimed that the boy was bought by her mother and tortured at her home for several years. “M” claimed that after the boy vomited a dinner of baked beans, her mother hit his head against the wall as a punishment. Then she tried to bathe him, during which he died.
The police first got hooked on this version, because in the boy's stomach they actually found the remains of baked beans, and his fingers seemed to be wrinkled because of water — these details were never shared with the public. They were also alarmed that “M” described the boy as a small child with long hair. It fit in with their theory that his hair was recently cut off, and also confirmed the testimony of a man who allegedly saw the boy put in a box near a forest.
Unfortunately, the police were eventually forced to abandon this theory, since they were unable to verify the testimony of "M". Finding out more information about the "M", they found that she suffered from a severe mental illness,and when they tried to confirm her testimony from neighbors and friends, they all denied that they had ever seen a child in the house. The version was eventually rejected as "absurd."
Several other theories have appeared over the years, but they all ended up falling apart. It seems that the secret of the boy in the box will never be revealed, and the "Unknown Child of America" will remain so forever.