Philadelphia’s ‘Boy in the Box’ is finally identified 65 years after he was murdered and dumped in container

Philadelphia police said Friday that they have uncovered the identity of the so-called “Boy in the Box” — a boy who was murdered, placed inside a box, and abandoned in the city 65 years ago.

Police said they will provide an update in the case as early as next week, and that criminal charges could still be filed. CBS Philadelphia reported that police were able to make the identification using genealogical information and DNA analysis that was not available to them at the time the crime was committed.

Linda Tamburri, among the workers who have long cared for the boy’s gravesite at Ivy Hill Cemetary in Northwest Philadelphia, told CBS that she was moved to finally have a name to attach to the person whose memory she has been tending to.

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“To have a name on that stone, that’s what everybody has been wishing forever,” Ms Tamburri said. “I’m just glad I’m here to actually know I’ll see that little boy’s name on the stone.”

The “Boy in the Box” was believed to be between four and six years of age when his body was discovered on Susquehanna Road in February of 1957. His murder and the subsequent attempts to identify him became a national story, with the boy becoming known as “America’s Unknown Child.”

Philadelphia police were unable to figure out the boy’s identity at the time of the crime, ultimately classifying his cause of death as blunt force trauma and noting that he appeared to freshly groomed at the time of the murder but had suffered extensive physical trauma beforehand.

But police kept working the case. In 2021, they exhumed the body from the Ivy Hill Cemetary site to collect DNA material. That material was eventually turned into a DNA profile that reportedly helped police make the connection to genealogical information and make their identification.