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Who was the mysterious "Boy in the Box"? How did he die? Was his death a tragic accident, or a cruel and deliberate act of child homicide? Who killed him, and why? How did the nude, badly bruised body of this little boy come to be placed inside a cardboard box and dumped in a remote, rubbish-strewn lot on the northern outskirts of Philadelphia? Why didn't anyone report the boy missing? Who were the boy's parents or guardians, and why hadn't they come forward to identify him and claim his body? Will this little boy's true identity ever be known, or will he forever remain "America's Unknown Child"?
These fundamental questions, and countless others, have puzzled investigators for more than four decades. The mysterious death of America's Unknown Child, (formerly known as "The Boy in the Box" or "The Fox Chase Boy"), is one of the most perplexing unsolved crimes of the twentieth century. The case has been relentlessly pursued by dozens of experts over the years, including numerous Philadelphia homicide detectives, eminent criminologists, the FBI, and most recently, the Vidocq Society - an organization that specializes in solving "cold" homicide cases.
The "Boy in the Box" case attracted both local and national media attention when the story broke in February, 1957, and police initially assumed that the identity of the unknown boy would be determined very quickly. Hundreds of thousands of posters bearing the slain boy's image and physical description were prominently displayed throughout the Philadelphia area. They were also distributed to thousands of police departments around the country. The detectives working the case in 1957 even dressed the body in typical children's clothing and posed it in a sitting position in the hope that this "lifelike" image of the boy might cause someone to recognize him and come forward.
Hundreds of promising leads were tracked down and several likely suspects were identified and interrogated, yet each time the investigators thought that the answer was finally within their grasp, it somehow eluded them. Over the years, the clues and leads in this case have been carefully examined time and time again. In November 1998 the boy's remains were exhumed to extract tissue samples for DNA analysis. He was subsequently re-buried at another location as "America's Unknown Child".
And yet, despite all of their efforts, investigators are not much closer to solving "The Boy in the Box" case today than they were when the mystery first began. In some respects they are worse off now because many of the people who might have had first-hand knowledge about the boy's identity or the circumstances surrounding his violent death are no longer alive themselves. Still, hope springs eternal, and investigators are looking to find someone who may have the key information, hitherto unrevealed, that will bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion.