More than 65 years later, American police announced on Thursday that they had, thanks to new DNA and genealogical research, identified a little boy who had been discovered dead in a cardboard box in Philadelphia in the late 1950s, and whose killer was never found.
On February 25, 1957, the boy's lifeless body was discovered, bearing the marks of numerous blows, wrapped in a blanket inside a cardboard box, in a wooded area of the city in the American northeast.
In addition to the beatings,
“the boy seemed to be malnourished (....) it was obvious that in his very short life this child had experienced horrors that no one, no one should ever experience
,” said during Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw at a press conference.
An autopsy had concluded that the victim was between four and six years old, but no one had ever come forward to claim his body and the investigation into
"the little boy in the box"
had never identified him, despite previous DNA tests.
In 2019, police again exhumed his remains, buried next to a headstone labeled
"America's Unknown Child
," after new forensic techniques were developed, police captain Jason Smith said.
The test results were uploaded to DNA databases and then analyzed by genealogists, tracing the child's biological mother.
The investigators then found a birth certificate for one of his children born in 1953. New analyzes then made it possible to identify the father and the day of birth of the child, identified as Joseph Augustus Zarelli and born on January 13, 1953 .
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Police did not identify the parents but said the child had
"a number of siblings"
“This is still an active homicide investigation and we still need the public's help to complete this child's life story
,” said Danielle Outlaw.
By the end of October, another mystery had been solved in the northeastern United States.
The federal police and justice had announced to have identified a woman who had been discovered killed, the severed hands, on a beach of the east coast of the United States in 1974, and whose murderer was never found either.
Tennessee native Ruth Marie Terry was 37 at the time of her death.