Time to read: 2 minutes
On February 25th, 1957 a box was discovered in a wooded area of Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighbourhood. Inside the box was the body of a boy, no older than 5 years old, beaten and wrapped in a blanket. The body also appeared to have been starved and likely died to the horrendous injuries to the body. Although the boy appeared to be cleaned and groomed, with a recent haircut and trimmed nails, he had clearly been beaten to death.
The crime scene was combed over by 280 police officers and they discovered a mans blue cap, a childs scarf and a handkerchief was the initial “G” embroidered into it.
Police tried to identify the boy by putting posters up and reporting it in the local media. The boys fingerprints were also taken.
The police assumed that he would be identified quite quickly as surely someone would report a missing 4-year-old boy?
Many leads came into the police, and they were all followed up. However after hours of reviewing leads and interviewing people, the police could never identify who the boy was.
Years went by and the boy was always referred to as the “boy in a box”.
It wasn’t until 2022 that police finally had a breakthrough. Using latest DNA technology and the use of genealogical databases, they were able to identify the boy as Joseph Augustus Zarelli.
Police were finally able to confirm his identity after a cousin uploaded a DNA sample to a public DNA database.
Unfortunately, the parents of the boy had both died by now, so the police were unable to interview them to find out what they knew about the death of their son.
Although the boys identity has finally been revealed, the killer has never been found. The police confirmed that they have now re-opened the case, however they are not hopeful of ever finding the person that murdered Joseph Augustus Zarelli.