Who is the Boy in the Box? That's been a question on every true crime geeks mind since the story broke over 60 years ago and now finally has an answer, supposedly.
What's The Update?
On April 30th, 2021, Capt. Jason Smith with the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit came forward and addressed the new findings to the public, stating that two years prior, detectives got an order to exhume the remains of the Boy in the Box. The DNA they collected was sent to a lab in Europe, and now, two years later, they finally have an update. Here it is, ready?
They still don't know who the boy was, who was brutally beaten and died from blunt force trauma to the head, then stuffed in a box. The only real update was this; according to CBS Local Philadelphia, "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.
So, after two years of alleged testing, after decades of searching through leads, witnesses, etc., they still have virtually nothing. At the time of this post, July 15th, 2021, there have been no further updates on the case.
Why Hasn't The Boy In The Box Been Identified Yet?
In 1957, a hunter left his home to check his traps near a park close to Philadelphia. As he moved through the woods, he found a small, suspicious-looking cardboard box, just laying in the dirt. Inside was a boy, beaten beyond the point of recognization, wrapped in a plaid blanket. The hunter claimed he "didn't want to get involved for fear the police would confiscate his traps." and ignored his findings. It wasn't until a few days later, did the body get discovered. The detectives never considered the hunter to be a suspect. However, if you search long enough on different forums, the possibility of him being the killer, along with another recent theory, is more likely than not. Unfortunately, all we have are theories; the real detectives have all the cool stuff.
So why don't the police make better use of their resources? There's a theory on that too. A few circulate on the boy being a potential slave. A woman, Margaret, claimed that her abusive mother bought the boy, and when the child threw up the baked beans he had been fed that night for supper, the woman fell into a fit of rage and killed him. The police were interested in this claim because the insides of the boy's stomach contained beans, and this was a fact that was not yet released to the public. Police later passed on the lead, finding that Margaret had a history of severe mental illness and couldn't be considered credible. When they attempted to verify her story with people who knew her mother at the time of the murder, all of them denied ever seeing a boy inside the home. Another promising lead came from a man who said his family once rented a place to a man who sold his son. Upon further investigation, police found someone they believed to be the father and another man they believed to be the brother. Though DNA was taken, police would not confirm whether they would test that along with the DNA of the boy in the box to see if there was a match. They only said they would "investigate further" Strangely, this lead was never brought up again, leading many to suspect corruption in the homicide unit. Even now, with the access they have to better resources, police are still refusing to give anyone answers. Listen to the episode BuzzFeed Unsolved released on the case, and you'll come away wondering if the murder was truly a cover-up by the hierarchy.
The Boy in the Box remains one of America's greatest mysteries, and every true crime buff has been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for an answer. This year, hopeful hearts eagerly clicked the article, released by CBS, with the promise of finding out who this boy really was, only to be strung along in an infinite cycle of unknowns. It shouldn't have taken two years to get more DNA tested. We shouldn't still be waiting to see if it matches anyone else's. What are they doing? What are they hiding? The killer is likely long gone by now, which begs the question if this boy really was sold as a slave, is the organization that sold him still practicing today? It's just a theory, but everyone's said it: All we have are theories.
A similar case was recently solved involving another boy in a box, only he was 2, not 6, and the crime took place in Oregon. Like in Philadelphia, DNA was gathered and tested, and the boy's identity was revealed decades after the murder. If that department could find answers, why can't Philly's? If there is some child trafficking organization out there, could they be among the city's elite? Do they want to sweep this under the rug? Let us know in the comments.
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