‘Boy in the box’, held in one of the oldest ‘cold houses’ in Philadelphia

After 65 years identified the child found dead in a box

After 65 years Philadelphia police gave a name to the 4-year-old boy found dead in a box, since referred to as the ‘boy in the box’ case. Thanks to a sophisticated and innovative DNA analysis, it was determined that the name of the child found, in February 1957, wrapped in a blanket and closed in a cardboard box abandoned in a wood on the outskirts of the city, was called Augustus Zarelli.

The boy’s body showed signs of “recent and past traumas”, indicating that he had suffered “severe mistreatment”, with “multiple abrasions, contusions and internal bleeding”, indicating that he had been beaten to death. It was the police chief, Danielle Outlaw, who announced the breakthrough in one of the oldest ‘cold houses’ in the city, recalling that, despite the great public interest aroused by the child’s murder, no parent or family member had come forward .

“For 65 years, the story of this unnamed child has haunted this community and its police department,” Outlaw said, noting that generations of cops have tried to solve the case. Although the identity of the child has now been ascertained, the person responsible for the death still remains to be found.

Homicide Chief Captain Jason Smith said, “We have suspects.” But he acknowledged that given the large amount of time that has passed, it is an “uphill battle” investigation. Smith did not provide the identities of the child’s parents, saying they are both dead, but indicating the siblings are still alive.