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Thread: PA - Philadelphia - "Boy in the Box" / America's Unknown Child, 1957

  1. #101
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    PA-boy in the box

    did they get any new leads in this case

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  3. #102
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    which boy in the box case is this?

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  5. #103
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    New Theory For 'Boy In The Box'

    It's about as cold as a cold case can be: the case of the boy in the box.

    The case has haunted Philadelphia for 51 years, the longest and most-investigated murder mystery in the city's history. Now a member of the Vidocq Society, a group of retired law enforcement detectives and other sleuths who specialize in unsolved crimes, has a new theory. It all began on this lonely dirt road 51 years ago. A young boy said to be 4 to 6 years old found nude in a cardboard box at an illegal dumping ground off Susquehanna near Verree Road in Philadelphia's Fox Chase section. Photos of the boy were widely distributed over the years throughout the country and he would ultimately be dubbed "America's unknown child". But despite it all, the case has never been solved. Now, world-renowned forensic artist Frank Bender thinks he knows why.

    "I'm almost certain that they've been missing the boat because they've been showing a boy and he is a boy, but the boy, I believe, was dressed as a girl."

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?se...cal&id=6158232

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  8. #105
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    Great find, RLE7. I'm so glad that they are still working on this. It would be a miracle if this case could be solved.

  9. #106
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    Omg

    I assumed that this was a working theory already-I assumed that this was the reason his hair was cut off. And I also assume that is why they discounted the story of the woman who claimed her mother bought him...because he had been dressed/raised/disguised as a girl. I must have heard this all theorized sometime before...

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    Sorry for the back to back posts-but maybe we can help out and have one of our talented photoshop folks take a stab at doing a photo with him with a girl's hairstyle, from that era??

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    Girl theory: Why not just trim the child's hair? Why butcher it so that it was obvious that his hair had been cut?
    Another question: Why not bury the child?
    IMO: Who ever left this child, was either not strong enough to bury the child or was in a desperate hurry to get rid of the body. I also think they were confident that they would not be linked to the child or they would have taken more care to hide the body. Maybe the murder, the haircut, the disposal was all done in a panic, but I am not convinced about the "raised as a girl" theory.
    I may be grasping at straws, but were there any religious sects around that kept boys hair longer than the "norm" for the day and age? Also do any of the articles suggest how long of hair they found on the boy? Are we talking 6 inches? 3 inches? 1?

  12. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zanko View Post
    Girl theory: Why not just trim the child's hair? Why butcher it so that it was obvious that his hair had been cut?
    Another question: Why not bury the child?
    IMO: Who ever left this child, was either not strong enough to bury the child or was in a desperate hurry to get rid of the body. I also think they were confident that they would not be linked to the child or they would have taken more care to hide the body. Maybe the murder, the haircut, the disposal was all done in a panic, but I am not convinced about the "raised as a girl" theory.
    I may be grasping at straws, but were there any religious sects around that kept boys hair longer than the "norm" for the day and age? Also do any of the articles suggest how long of hair they found on the boy? Are we talking 6 inches? 3 inches? 1?
    Good thoughts-his hair must have id'd him somehow which is why it was butchered. I have always been unable to decide if he was brutalized, or killed/died with someone who cared about him simply because he was washed before his head was shaved and he was dumped right?

    Maybe if we take a look at the ethnic/cultural make up of the area at that time we can come upon a religion that cleans their dead before they bury. And yet dumping him would not have caused any issues in the afterlife...I know that it was speculated that his COD was a head injury, and that they knew he had no broken bones to his body prior to death right??

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    I know this question will be controversial, I don't mean any disrespect: The Amish are in Pennsylvania and my understanding is that they keep boys hair longer than what would have been "standard" for the time. Would an Amish community allow medical treatment on a child? I know Amish communities are peaceful. I also know they separate themselves from society in a lot of ways. In the 50's would the Amish community have gotten the news reports about this child? Is it possible that one of their own could have left the community after "accidentally" killing their child? And go undetected because of the isolation of their community?

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  15. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zanko View Post
    I know this question will be controversial, I don't mean any disrespect: The Amish are in Pennsylvania and my understanding is that they keep boys hair longer than what would have been "standard" for the time. Would an Amish community allow medical treatment on a child? I know Amish communities are peaceful. I also know they separate themselves from society in a lot of ways. In the 50's would the Amish community have gotten the news reports about this child? Is it possible that one of their own could have left the community after "accidentally" killing their child? And go undetected because of the isolation of their community?
    You are not being disrespectful, I do not believe-i think it is wise to investigate. I just did some research on burial rituals for a certain sect of Judaism that settled in PA around the revolutionary war and still had a strong presence at the time the boy was found. check this out:
    To wash the body with water brought from the fountain in a new container and dress it in white clothes.
    To clip the deceased's nails (or at least a couple of them) as well as a few hairs and wrap everything in a piece of paper or cloth
    To burn clipped hair and nails after death

    I am just trying to get a sense of how culturally diverse the surrounding might have been and how possible it might have been to dump such a sweet child and walk away without being found out...i did not choose Judaism to start with-I was more looking at possible illnesses that would meet some of the cut-down scars he had and it brought me to some genetic illnesses that led me to the above...shrouding or wrapping his body could mean anything and if the boy was face down when found, then I don't think we are dealing with devout Judaism...i mean could this have been a families best attempt at disposing of their loved one or is it for sure murder?
    Last edited by believe09; 05-25-2008 at 02:09 PM. Reason: add some thoughts...

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    Regarding Amish burial customs, there is washing and dressing of the corpse, no mention of hair and nail cutting and children can be buried in unmarked graves...this of course means nothing in the face of a crime when the victim is dumped, it is just that there is something that is grabbing me about the fact that the boy was washed and hair/nails cut in the days prior to the type of forensics we are used to now.

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    First time poster in this thread. This is such a sad story! Bless his little heart.

    I think it's a possibility he may have been institutionalized. If you look at the markings on his forehead and the side of his head, they almost make a perfect "band". Like a head restraint. I'd imagine it's not too difficult to bruise a young child's head with a harsh leather/metal strap, especially if he were resisting. Just a thought..

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  19. #114
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    I wonder if they ever checked him for Tuberculosis traces. In the 1950's, several sanitariums admitted children with the disease..

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    Are they going to do a clay reconstruction or anything?

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    That would be interesting. the only photo of him, however heartbreaking, would be hard to identify IMO. Some new techniques could be what this case is needing.

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    "M"'s story
    The second major theory is one brought forward in February, 2002 by a woman identified only as "M." She claimed that her abusive mother purchased the unknown boy, named "Jonathan," from his birth parents in the summer of 1954. Subsequently, the youngster was subjected to extreme physical and sexual abuse for two and a half years, then killed in a fit of rage by slamming him to the floor after he vomited in the bathtub.
    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_in_the_Box_%28Philadelphia%29

    Anyone know if there were injuries consistent with being slammed against the floor?

  23. #118
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    I think Vashley's theory of a head restraint is interesting-I know the oval bruises are theorized to be fingerprints from him having his head shaved...maybe he was seizing? Maybe it is me, but he actually does not look skeletal or horrifically malnourished to me. I think the bruising on his legs is horrendous and the clearest sign that all was not right with him for sure. But with no history of prior abuse like burns or broken bones-what the heck? he had lacerations on his neck-from the clippers? I am clearly a novice at this but if he had trauma to the head, it is hard to really see it.

    He had bruising on his arms above his elbows, oval bruises on his forehead and horrific bruising on his legs. What if he died during ECT-how would a child be restrained during it?

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    What is an ECT? Epilepsy?

    I am wondering about the scars that were supposedly from medical treatments, especially the ones around the ankles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthrobones View Post
    What is an ECT? Epilepsy?

    I am wondering about the scars that were supposedly from medical treatments, especially the ones around the ankles.
    Electroconvulsive therapy also known as Shock Therapy.

  26. #121
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    Thank you Zanko- back in the 40's and 50's Electric Shock Therapy was at it's peak. Interestingly enough during these time frames, it was done without muscle relaxant or anesthesia's of any kind, so recipients frequently dislocated or broke their long bones during the convulsions. Now, just speculation, but I wonder if someone had dislocated their legs at the knee and the dislocation were reduced (put back into place) if it would look like the swelling we saw on the boy? There were also few physicians at the time who could recognize a brain that had been shocked upon autopsy. It would have displayed abnormal bleeding, atrophys, scarring etc...could have looked like an internal head injury?

    http://www.antipsychiatry.org/ect.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by believe09 View Post
    Thank you Zanko- back in the 40's and 50's Electric Shock Therapy was at it's peak. Interestingly enough during these time frames, it was done without muscle relaxant or anesthesia's of any kind, so recipients frequently dislocated or broke their long bones during the convulsions. Now, just speculation, but I wonder if someone had dislocated their legs at the knee and the dislocation were reduced (put back into place) if it would look like the swelling we saw on the boy? There were also few physicians at the time who could recognize a brain that had been shocked upon autopsy. It would have displayed abnormal bleeding, atrophys, scarring etc...could have looked like an internal head injury?

    http://www.antipsychiatry.org/ect.htm
    Thank you, believe09.

    Well, the first time I saw his photos, although I was horrified, I noticed the size of the markings on his head. All pretty much the same diameter. If you look at your finger tips, they aren't consistent in size. I'd imagine you'd have to be one strong person with mammoth hands to put that much pressure on his head to cause contusions that deep. Yes, ECT was most definitely at it's peak around the time he died.

    During treatment, when a patient is resisting or seizing (from ECT, for example), restraints are often used around the head, arms, wrists, legs, chest and ankles. Sometimes they are restrained in such a way that a strap goes over the forearms/lower chest area and around the legs and forehead. Patients also seize and vomit (the brown substance they found in his esophagus), and I read that he had "pruney" hands and feet. Perhaps while being inoculated with electricity he was submerged in water somehow and died by electrocution?

    Also, the haircut. They shave the sides of their heads during ECT treatment, too so there isn't any hair in the way..

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  30. #123
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    Gah, I hope he wasn't a guinea pig for some quaky doctor who tried something new that went wrong so he tried to cover his mistake..




    A rendering of what he may have looked like in color attempt..

    I can't do clay models.



    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e1...hnDoe1copy.jpg
    Last edited by VASHLEY88; 05-26-2008 at 02:44 AM.

  31. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by believe09 View Post
    You are not being disrespectful, I do not believe-i think it is wise to investigate. I just did some research on burial rituals for a certain sect of Judaism that settled in PA around the revolutionary war and still had a strong presence at the time the boy was found. check this out:
    To wash the body with water brought from the fountain in a new container and dress it in white clothes.
    To clip the deceased's nails (or at least a couple of them) as well as a few hairs and wrap everything in a piece of paper or cloth
    To burn clipped hair and nails after death


    I am just trying to get a sense of how culturally diverse the surrounding might have been and how possible it might have been to dump such a sweet child and walk away without being found out...i did not choose Judaism to start with-I was more looking at possible illnesses that would meet some of the cut-down scars he had and it brought me to some genetic illnesses that led me to the above...shrouding or wrapping his body could mean anything and if the boy was face down when found, then I don't think we are dealing with devout Judaism...i mean could this have been a families best attempt at disposing of their loved one or is it for sure murder?

    Believe, I might be able to answer some of your questions. I live here. As far as cultural diversity in Fox Chase back then we had no Amish here. Living in the immediate area I mean. There was a fair amount of German's in Fox Chase. Then again probably made up of a significant Irish, Italian, German, Jewish community. It's changing now though.

    As far as any burial rites for devout Jews I think the one Detective on the case would have thought of that as he was Jewish. My father worked with him for almost his entire career. He was a nice, nice, nice man and this case was always with him.

    My dad didn't bring work home with him and he wasn't on that case, but I aksed my mom about this recently and she said my dad said they were really interested in that home that was nearby. An institution type home. I'll ask her more about it. Of course anything is possible. I mean as far as Amish or wheoever. Just the Amish live further up in Pennsylvania. This area was somewhat more "rural" then inner city Philly, but in the city all the same.

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  33. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by VASHLEY88 View Post
    Gah, I hope he wasn't a guinea pig for some quaky doctor who tried something new that went wrong so he tried to cover his mistake..




    A rendering of what he may have looked like in color attempt..

    I can't do clay models.



    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e1...hnDoe1copy.jpg
    Thank you Vashley-you have brought some life to him that is for sure.

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