The boy’s body, wrapped in a plaid blanket, was discovered in the woods off Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase, Philadelphia, in February 1957. The naked body was found inside a cardboard box that had formerly housed a J. C. Penney bassinet. As clumps of hair adhered to the body, the boy’s hair had been recently trimmed, possibly after death. Surgical scars on the ankle and groin, as well as an L-shaped scar beneath the chin, indicated acute malnutrition.
A young man was checking his muskrat traps when he discovered the body. He did not report what he had discovered because he was afraid the authorities would seize his traps. A college student noticed a rabbit fleeing into the underbrush a few days later. He stopped his car to check because he knew there were animal traps in the area and spotted the body. He was likewise hesitant to contact the police, but after learning of Mary Jane Barker’s abduction the next day, he did report what he had discovered.
He could have been bought, abused, and killed by a woman.
Detectives got numerous tips from persons claiming to know the true identity of the Boy in the Box and how he died during the course of their inquiry. One of these leads came from a woman only identified as “Martha,” who said her mother (a librarian) bought the youngster when she was a child and took him to their home in Philadelphia. Martha claims her mother informed her the boy’s name was Jonathan and forced him to sleep in their filthy basement.
Martha claims that her mother, who had sexually abused her, acquired Jonathan with the intent of doing the same to him. Jonathan allegedly puked in the bathtub, and her enraged mother slammed him against the floor, killing him. Martha claimed that after the kid died, she accompanied her mother to Philadelphia to dispose of the boy’s body.
While authorities looked into Martha’s accusations – which came decades after the boy’s finding – they couldn’t locate any proof that the information she supplied was real or incorrect.
He could have died in a foster home by accident.
One of the most frequent hypotheses regarding the Boy in the Box is that he was an orphan who died accidently, either by falling out of a window or drowning in a lake, while living in a foster home. Remington Bristow, a Philadelphia medical examiner, proposed this theory. A psychic informed him she believed the boy died while he was residing in an old estate that had been converted into a foster home by a couple.
Bristow had already interviewed a husband and wife who ran a children’s home out of a mansion, and when he went to an estate sale there after the family moved away in 1961, he said he discovered a bassinet in the house that was similar to the kind that would have been packaged in a cardboard box like the one the police discovered the child’s body in. Bristow felt the boy was the couple’s illegitimate grandchild, and after he died in an accident, they dumped his body because they didn’t want to be accused of murder or have the presence of their illegitimate grandchild discovered.
A detective followed up on this tip decades later, interviewing the lady Bristow believed to be the boy’s mother, only to discover that she did have a son who died in a car accident in 1957. Morgue documents, on the other hand, proved that the Boy in the Box was not her child.
His Hair Was Shaved
Investigators believe the majority of the child’s light brown hair was shaved off around the time of his death. The youngster had tufts of his own hair clinging to his body when they discovered him. The individual who cut the boy’s hair, however, did it in a hurried and haphazard manner, according to the medical examiner.
The child’s forehead had four distinct marks, as well as evidence of a cerebral hemorrhage, according to reports. The reason of death, according to law enforcement, could have been an accident. While holding the child’s head in position, whomever clipped his hair with clippers may have mistakenly applied too much pressure.
Soon after, a barber in Philadelphia came forward to say he was convinced he’d cut the child’s hair about a week before police discovered him. The barber claimed the youngster entered his business with his older sibling and left unscathed. The barber then referred officials to “Strawberry Mansion,” which he claimed was where the boy lived. Investigators pursued the lead but came up empty-handed.
Originally, the Boy in the Box was buried in a potter’s field. In 1998, his body was excavated for the aim of obtaining DNA from the enamel of a tooth. Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia, donated a big plot for his reburial.
The son of the guy who buried the boy in 1957 donated the coffin, monument, and burial service. The reburial drew a large crowd and received extensive media coverage. A big headstone reads “America’s Unknown Child” on the gravesite. Flowers and toy animals are placed on the tomb by city residents.