PA THE BOY IN THE BOX: WM, 4-6, found in Philadelphia, PA - 25 February 1957

America's Unknown Child

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Mel70

Rest in peace Oreo. I love you honey bunny
Thursday, February 27, 2014
THE BOY IN THE BOX

The Tragic Story of One of America's Unsolved Mysteries

The most enduring mystery to ever perplex Philadelphia detectives came to light on the evening of February 23, 1957, when a La Salle College student parked his car off Susquehanna Road and began to hike across a vacant lot in the drizzling rain. The unnamed young man – various newspaper reports put his age between 18 and 26 – was a “Peeping Tom” and was en route to spy on the inmates of the nearby Good Shepherd Home, a Catholic residence for “wayward” girls. But what he found as he walked across the overgrown lot that night would destroy any interest that he had in looking in young girl’s windows.

It was a cardboard box, seemingly innocuous – until he looked inside and saw that a small corpse had been wedged into it. Terrified, he forgot about the undressed women that he had come to see. He turned and ran back to his car. Frightened and embarrassed, the man confessed his discovery to his priest the next day and he was told to call the police. He complied, after first concocting a tale that he found the box while chasing a rabbit through the weeds, and officers were sent to the lot to investigate.

This would be the beginning of a heartbreaking story to which the end has yet to be written.


The young boy was found dead in the woods in Philadelphia's Fox Chase area, his head poking from a cardboard box. It would become the city's -- and one of America's -- most baffling unsolved murders.

The patrolmen who arrived at the vacant lot on February 24 found a large cardboard carton lying on its side, open at one end. The box had once held a baby bassinet from J.C. Penney. Inside the box was a small boy, his pale white body wrapped in a cheap, imitation Indian blanket. They searched the lot and 17 feet from the box, discovered a man’s cap, made from royal blue corduroy with a leather strap and a buckle on the back. Coincidentally or otherwise, a beaten path through the weeds and the underbrush led directly from the cap to the cardboard coffin.


An autopsy was performed on the boy by Dr. Joseph Spelman, Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner. His report placed the boy between four and six years old. He had blue eyes and light blond hair that had been badly cut, closely shorn in some areas of his head, shaved almost to the skull in others. He was 41 inches tall and weighed only a pathetic 30 pounds at the time of his death. Dr. Spelman cited the cause of death was a savage beating that left the boy’s body and face covered in fresh bruises. Older marks included an L-shaped scar on his chin; a one-inch surgical scar on the left side of his chest; a round, irregular scar on his left elbow; a well-healed scar at the groin, apparently from hernia surgery, and a scar on the left ankle that resembled a “cut down” incision used to expose veins for a blood transfusion. The boy was circumcised but had no vaccination marks, suggesting that he had not been enrolled in public school.


Spelman’s report contained many other intriguing details. The victim’s right palm and the soles of both feet were rough and wrinkled, which suggested that they had been submerged in water, immediately before or after death. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the boy’s left eye fluoresced a bright shade of blue, indicating recent exposure to a diagnostic dye used in the treatment of chronic eye disease. Spelman attributed the boy’s death to head trauma, probably inflicted with a blunt instrument, but he could not rule out that damage had been done by “pressure” – which prompted some of the investigators to suggest that fatal damage had been inflicted by someone squeezing the boy’s head when he was given his last, botched haircut. Detectives clothed the boy and photographed his battered face, in hopes that they might be able to learn his name – but those hopes slowly died with the passing years.

Investigators initially focused on the box that had been used as the boy’s coffin. It had originally held a baby bassinet from J.C. Penney and was one of a dozen received on November 27, 1956 and sold for $7.50 between December 3, 1956 and February 16, 1957 from a store in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. The store, though, kept no record of individual sales, but the other 11 bassinets were eventually located by detectives. FBI fingerprint technicians found no usable prints on the carton recovered from the empty lot.

The examination of the blanket proved to be just as frustrating. It was made from cheap cotton flannel and had been recently washed and mended using poor-grade cotton thread. It had been cut into two separate, unequal pieces and then wrapped around the naked boy. Analysis at the Philadelphia Textile Institute determined that it had been manufactured either at Swannanoa, North Carolina, or Granby, Quebec. Identical blankets had been produced by the thousands, and the police were never able to figure out a likely place where it had been sold.
This Case is one that always has bothered me. He obviously received medical care at a certain point. But then severely neglected. It's so bizarre.
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
This Case is one that always has bothered me. He obviously received medical care at a certain point. But then severely neglected. It's so bizarre.
It's a shame sometimes just the period of time when things happened. If this happened nowadays store security cameras would probably have the purchaser of the bassinet if not even credit or debit card detail, etc. On the other hand, if people are aware of that as they are getting to be now, they may have been sure not to use such an identifying box, etc. Still though technology has come so far, it doesn't solve every case but it sure has made a difference in many.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

Administrator
Staff member

EXCLUSIVE: Philadelphia Police Hope Break In 1957 Unsolved Murder Leads To The Boy In The Box’s Identity​

All across our region there are thousands of unsolved mysteries. It takes just one memory or tip that could help close one of these cold cases and bring closure for both families and detectives who’ve vowed to never give up hope.

We kick off our new series, CBS3 Mysteries, with Philadelphia’s most notorious cold case: the boy in the box.



Philadelphia homicide detectives two years ago got an order to exhume the remains of the Boy in the Box. What they were able to retrieve this time for DNA purposes was sent to a lab in Europe that now has given them their biggest break yet.

“This is the closest, this is the closest we have gotten,” Smith said of being able to find out the boy’s name.

Police now have a DNA profile they hope leads them to family members of the little boy. Investigators say this gives them a new direction.

“Might there still be witnesses around? There could be,” Smith said. “Absolutely. Might there still be a perpetrator around that’s still alive? Possibly. Could be.”

These detectives are on the doorstep of what can only be hoped to be the break that’s kept them up at night wondering what the name of The Boy in the Box is.

“It’s always on my mind,” Smith said. “We owe it to the child. We owe it to their family members.”
 

WENN9366

New member
I've been a long time lurker here, but have been interested in the boy in the box case for many years. That said, if you map out all the most relevant points of interest; the J.C.Penney from Upper Darby township (where the crib box originated), Robbins Bald Eagle Cap store (where the cap found by the crime scene was custom made), and the location of the body in Fox Chase, they provide an birdseye view of each location relative to each other. The hub of all three meet at St. Joseph's University (was a college in 1957) and all three are located on highways/roads that did exist in the mid 1950's. Across the park from the college was St. Joe's Prep (the Gesu school today). Abutting St. Joseph's to the north was the Lower Merion Township (where M lived). All of these, except for where the body was dumped, are within a relatively short distance from each other.

From the woman in the cap shop, we get the description of a man around his early 20's with blond hair, who looked somewhat similar to the child on the poster. He paid with cash, and later returned to add a leather strap to the cap. I would surmise that the shop wasn't too far out of his way. Also found near the scene was a handkerchief with the initial "G" on it.

My question posed to others here who probably keep up with the case more than I do and have the particulars fresh in their mind is this. Has anyone ever looked into Steven M. Garrity? A graduate of St. Joseph's, he joined the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1957 (the founding society of St. Joseph's College), and was ordained in 1970. I can't find much early information on him other than he was born in 1932. That would make him 25 at the time the boy was found. Garrity was removed from the ministry in 2007 for inappropriate sexual contact against 5 adults, but in 2013 was accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse towards students while assigned in the 70's to St. Joes Prep. In fact, there were 11 priests who worked at St. Joe's Prep during the decades surrounding that time who were later credibly accused of sexual abuse. Jesuits' list of accused priests includes 11 who worked at St. Joseph’s University or Prep in Philly
The surgically precise cuts on the child's body, to me, suggest more of a long term, ritualistic abuse.

Steven M. Garrity passed away in 2014.

Other information about him:
 

Guess Who

Well-known member
I've been a long time lurker here, but have been interested in the boy in the box case for many years. That said, if you map out all the most relevant points of interest; the J.C.Penney from Upper Darby township (where the crib box originated), Robbins Bald Eagle Cap store (where the cap found by the crime scene was custom made), and the location of the body in Fox Chase, they provide an birdseye view of each location relative to each other. The hub of all three meet at St. Joseph's University (was a college in 1957) and all three are located on highways/roads that did exist in the mid 1950's. Across the park from the college was St. Joe's Prep (the Gesu school today). Abutting St. Joseph's to the north was the Lower Merion Township (where M lived). All of these, except for where the body was dumped, are within a relatively short distance from each other.

From the woman in the cap shop, we get the description of a man around his early 20's with blond hair, who looked somewhat similar to the child on the poster. He paid with cash, and later returned to add a leather strap to the cap. I would surmise that the shop wasn't too far out of his way. Also found near the scene was a handkerchief with the initial "G" on it.

My question posed to others here who probably keep up with the case more than I do and have the particulars fresh in their mind is this. Has anyone ever looked into Steven M. Garrity? A graduate of St. Joseph's, he joined the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1957 (the founding society of St. Joseph's College), and was ordained in 1970. I can't find much early information on him other than he was born in 1932. That would make him 25 at the time the boy was found. Garrity was removed from the ministry in 2007 for inappropriate sexual contact against 5 adults, but in 2013 was accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse towards students while assigned in the 70's to St. Joes Prep. In fact, there were 11 priests who worked at St. Joe's Prep during the decades surrounding that time who were later credibly accused of sexual abuse. Jesuits' list of accused priests includes 11 who worked at St. Joseph’s University or Prep in Philly
The surgically precise cuts on the child's body, to me, suggest more of a long term, ritualistic abuse.

Steven M. Garrity passed away in 2014.

Other information about him:
:welcome:

That sounds like some very compelling information.
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
I've been a long time lurker here, but have been interested in the boy in the box case for many years. That said, if you map out all the most relevant points of interest; the J.C.Penney from Upper Darby township (where the crib box originated), Robbins Bald Eagle Cap store (where the cap found by the crime scene was custom made), and the location of the body in Fox Chase, they provide an birdseye view of each location relative to each other. The hub of all three meet at St. Joseph's University (was a college in 1957) and all three are located on highways/roads that did exist in the mid 1950's. Across the park from the college was St. Joe's Prep (the Gesu school today). Abutting St. Joseph's to the north was the Lower Merion Township (where M lived). All of these, except for where the body was dumped, are within a relatively short distance from each other.

From the woman in the cap shop, we get the description of a man around his early 20's with blond hair, who looked somewhat similar to the child on the poster. He paid with cash, and later returned to add a leather strap to the cap. I would surmise that the shop wasn't too far out of his way. Also found near the scene was a handkerchief with the initial "G" on it.

My question posed to others here who probably keep up with the case more than I do and have the particulars fresh in their mind is this. Has anyone ever looked into Steven M. Garrity? A graduate of St. Joseph's, he joined the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1957 (the founding society of St. Joseph's College), and was ordained in 1970. I can't find much early information on him other than he was born in 1932. That would make him 25 at the time the boy was found. Garrity was removed from the ministry in 2007 for inappropriate sexual contact against 5 adults, but in 2013 was accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse towards students while assigned in the 70's to St. Joes Prep. In fact, there were 11 priests who worked at St. Joe's Prep during the decades surrounding that time who were later credibly accused of sexual abuse. Jesuits' list of accused priests includes 11 who worked at St. Joseph’s University or Prep in Philly
The surgically precise cuts on the child's body, to me, suggest more of a long term, ritualistic abuse.

Steven M. Garrity passed away in 2014.

Other information about him:
Hi! I don’t know the details of this case, but what you brought up is extremely interesting to me! Wow!
 

Mel70

Rest in peace Oreo. I love you honey bunny
I find the most likely suspects are the foster home people that had the mentally disabled daughter that was pregnant 3 times. The mother died and she married her father. There was alot of suspicion of paternity of the children she had. A man who was a foster child there remembers the house. It kind of looked like a small castle. Gray brick. I'm not sure if it is still there. This case has long been on my mind. That no one knew this child outside his home life?. Born in the 50's he was robbed a lifetime and probably never had a happy day in his short life.
 

Mel70

Rest in peace Oreo. I love you honey bunny
I've been a long time lurker here, but have been interested in the boy in the box case for many years. That said, if you map out all the most relevant points of interest; the J.C.Penney from Upper Darby township (where the crib box originated), Robbins Bald Eagle Cap store (where the cap found by the crime scene was custom made), and the location of the body in Fox Chase, they provide an birdseye view of each location relative to each other. The hub of all three meet at St. Joseph's University (was a college in 1957) and all three are located on highways/roads that did exist in the mid 1950's. Across the park from the college was St. Joe's Prep (the Gesu school today). Abutting St. Joseph's to the north was the Lower Merion Township (where M lived). All of these, except for where the body was dumped, are within a relatively short distance from each other.

From the woman in the cap shop, we get the description of a man around his early 20's with blond hair, who looked somewhat similar to the child on the poster. He paid with cash, and later returned to add a leather strap to the cap. I would surmise that the shop wasn't too far out of his way. Also found near the scene was a handkerchief with the initial "G" on it.

My question posed to others here who probably keep up with the case more than I do and have the particulars fresh in their mind is this. Has anyone ever looked into Steven M. Garrity? A graduate of St. Joseph's, he joined the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1957 (the founding society of St. Joseph's College), and was ordained in 1970. I can't find much early information on him other than he was born in 1932. That would make him 25 at the time the boy was found. Garrity was removed from the ministry in 2007 for inappropriate sexual contact against 5 adults, but in 2013 was accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse towards students while assigned in the 70's to St. Joes Prep. In fact, there were 11 priests who worked at St. Joe's Prep during the decades surrounding that time who were later credibly accused of sexual abuse. Jesuits' list of accused priests includes 11 who worked at St. Joseph’s University or Prep in Philly
The surgically precise cuts on the child's body, to me, suggest more of a long term, ritualistic abuse.

Steven M. Garrity passed away in 2014.

Other information about him:
I've read the list before. Sickening. We had a priest here. James Porter convicted of multiple counts going way back. It's just beyond comprehension that some go into the priesthood to have access to children. I'm quite sure God has something special for you. Just evil.
 

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