Identified! PA - Philadelphia - 'Boy in the Box' - 4UMPA - Feb'57 - Joseph Augustus Zarelli #4

christine2448

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I am new here and did a search for this case and couldn't find anything...forgive me if there is a reference here and I couldn't find it.

Anyone familiar with this case?

The website (listed below) has soooooo much information, it took me a couple of days to read it all!

Here is a link to the website http://americasunknownchild.net



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ADMIN NOTE:

This post lands at random.

There is a reason why Websleuths only allows official images and those created by credentialed forensic artists. There is absolutely nothing personal about that decision. We are not mean, crazy, or totally out to lunch ;)

We can have numerous members all doing great looking renderings, but if all those people are allowed to post their own unique interpretation, we could end up with 5, 10, 15 unique but varying representations that influence thousands of members and guests, and no real idea what the UID really looks like.

On another note, contacting family members is not condoned by Websleuths. Can you imagine all the websites on the internet that discuss missing and unidentified people, and X members from each site contacting family?
 
ADMIN NOTE:

This thread is closed for review. Do NOT open another thread.

We are THIS close to closing this discussion and leaving only a *NO DISCUSSION* Media thread available.

This is being considered due to the unbelievable number of Alerts and TOS violations that are occurring.
 
"Police said during a Thursday morning press conference that they will not be identifying the boy's parents at this time out of respect for Zarelli's siblings, some of whom are still alive."

What's not clear about the above?

Why are some members disregarding what LE has said and decide it's okay to flat-out name people and sleuth families with a view to identifying the parents, etc ?? This is disrespectful to LE, to the family, and to Websleuths to totally disregard LE's position in this matter.

You can do all the sleuthing you want behind the scenes and in private messaging, but until such time as LE has released more information, do NOT splash the names of innocent people and their families all across this forum.

Post respectfully and responsibly or you won't be allowed to post in this discussion, or you may experience a temporary or permanent loss of posting privileges.

This thread is open again while we continue cleanup as time permits.
 
ADMIN NOTE:

The following ADMIN NOTE was posted earlier today in this thread and for some reason some members are choosing to ignore it.

"Police said during a Thursday morning press conference that they will not be identifying the boy's parents at this time out of respect for Zarelli's siblings, some of whom are still alive."

What's not clear about the above?

Why are some members disregarding what LE has said and decide it's okay to flat-out name people and sleuth families with a view to identifying the parents, etc ?? This is disrespectful to LE, to the family, and to Websleuths to totally disregard LE's position in this matter.

You can do all the sleuthing you want behind the scenes and in private messaging, but until such time as LE has released more information, do NOT splash the names of innocent people and their families all across this forum.

Post respectfully and responsibly or you won't be allowed to post in this discussion, or you may experience a temporary or permanent loss of posting privileges.
 
ADMIN NOTE:

This UID thread was established many years ago with a goal of identifying this sweet child who we now know as Joseph.

LE has not officially named a POI/suspect responsible for Joseph's death and has indicated they do not wish the identities of the family to be known ... therefore no public sleuthing of Joseph's family or any other 'innocent' person is allowed. Members doing so are in violation of one of our most basic Terms of Service on which Websleuths was founded.

Websleuths long-standing Terms of Service stipulate that the only individuals who can be publicly sleuthed are a victim and an officially named POI/suspect. There are no officially named POIs or officially named suspects. This is not difficult to understand.

When members violate TOS and simply thumb their noses at Mods, Admins, and Websleuths owner Tricia, we are left with few options.

We truly don't like taking drastic measures, but going forward:

Members who continue sleuthing to try to determine who Joseph's family members are, and posting their names, initials, or other findings in this public thread, will be permanently banned from the discussion. If it continues to be a moderation nightmare as it has been, we will close all general discussion and go with a Media only *NO DISCUSSION* thread.

Members can sleuth privately with others as much as they wish. In "Conversations" you can add up to 20 other members to your private message thread. Just don't bring your findings to the public discussion.

If for some reason the above is not clear, do not derail the thread with questions. Contact a Mod or Admin and we will try to clarify.
 
I find it so interesting that the captain was so tight lipped on so many things then freely offered up where he thought he was living.

of course i dont know what the captain is thinking but i wonder if the info given or not given was strategic to produce tips.
 
I find it so interesting that the captain was so tight lipped on so many things then freely offered up where he thought he was living.

of course i dont know what the captain is thinking but i wonder if the info given or not given was strategic to produce tips.
That was so interesting. He could have just said West Philadelphia, but then he doubled back and said the neighborhood. Strategic for sure.
 
I find it so interesting that the captain was so tight lipped on so many things then freely offered up where he thought he was living.

of course i dont know what the captain is thinking but i wonder if the info given or not given was strategic to produce tips.
I noticed that too.
But they also said they were hoping for neighbours who remembered the household to come forward, so I guess they had to be that specific.
 
I noticed that too.
But they also said they were hoping for neighbours who remembered the household to come forward, so I guess they had to be that specific.
Neighbourhoods can be such a good trigger for memories, I've found. I can have family members talking for hours about the places they grew up. Hope plenty of families are having that talk lately now the police released that location. "What was it like back then? What were the neighbours like?". Who knows what prompt might jog the memory. JMO.
 
Replying to @Ontario Mom's post on previous thread.

As to Joseph's bio parentage, I honestly couldn't care less who they were. I care about where he was living (and how he ended up there) immediately preceeding his death, and who THAT person was, that was responsible. If that person happens to also be his bio mom or dad, then let's have a name. If not, I still don't care about the bio parent's names.

I want to know who trimmed his nails, chopped his hair off and didn't even bother to dress him before stuffing his little body in that filthy box and leaving him on the side of the road like household trash. To me, THAT is what matters, not pegging down his genealogy.
This is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you so much. The ONLY reason for wanting to identify either parent is IF it's going to somehow lead us to WHO had Joseph at the time of his death.

Imo, and I guess it's just a gut feeling, his bio parents did not cause his death and did not know the BITB was their boy. My feeling, moo, is he was with his bio mom for a while and then *something* happened. And somehow, possibly through the foster system or the agency they worked with, or in an unofficial way, he ended up with an abusive guardian who murdered him.

MOO
 
Press Conference Video:

Excellent Transcript of Press Conference by Websleuth Member Allabouttrial:

Snipped portion of the transcript that spells out the timeline:
On October 30th, 1998, a court order was obtained to have the child's remains exhumed. A post mortem examination was performed and the child was subsequently re-interred at Ivy Hill Cemetery, located in the Cedar Brook section of Philadelphia. Portions of the remains were retained for future testing. DNA testing was performed at that time, but yielded no new leads in the investigation. For over 6 decades, the case was continuously investigated by members of the Homicide Unit who worked in concert with the Medical Examiner's Office, the Forensic Science Bureau, the Vidocq Society, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and many other local, state and federal agencies.

This investigation had come to be referred to as 'The boy in the box', and the child who was the subject of this investigation was referred to as 'America's unknown child'. Homicide investigators, along with members of the Medical Examiners Office, conducted a review and assessment of investigations involving unidentified victims to determine which of those may benefit from the application of modern forensic techniques. It was determined that the case of the unknown child, OME No. 57-0863, would benefit from the application of such modern forensic techniques. The portion of the remains that were in the possession of the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office were determined to be insufficient in order to obtain the required DNA to apply these modern techniques. In homicide cases, such as this, extreme difficulty lies in the fact that rarely can they be resolved and the offender ultimately brought to justice until the victim is first identified.

With that in mind, on April 24th, 2019, an additional court order was obtained to have the child's remains exhumed, once again. Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Washburn, examined the remains and was able to obtain the required amount of DNA to apply modern forensic techniques. The child was re-interred and portions of the remains were retained for future testing. Contemporary forensic applications and techniques, including genealogical DNA testing, and enquires were made with the assistance of genetic genealogists. The results of the DNA testing were uploaded to DNA databases and the results were interpreted by the genealogists involved in this investigation. Based on the interpretation of the results by the genealogists, detectives were able to locate and make contact with possible relatives of the child's family, on the maternal side.

Through further investigation and additional testing, the genealogists involved in this investigation were able to establish the identity of the birth mother of the unidentified child.

A court order signed by a Court of Common Pleas Judge to obtain the birth records, death records and adoption records for all children born to the established birth mother between the years 1944-1956
from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau and Health Statistics and Registries Division of Vital Records.

There were three responsive results based on this order. Two of the results were birth certificates for children born to the established birth mother, during that time frame, who were previously known to investigators. One of whom provided DNA and was matched, previously, by the geneologist. The third result was a birth certificate for a male child born to the established birth mother in 1953, which could be consistent with the approximated age of the unidentified child.

The birth father was listed on the birth certificate for the male child, born in 1953. Based on research by detectives and the genealogists, a male was discovered who could possibly be the birth father of the unidentified child. Detectives were able to locate and make contact with possible relatives of the child's family, on the paternal side.
Through additional testing, the genealogists were able to establish the birth father of the unidentified child.


A request was sent to the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General to determine if a social security number had ever been issued in the name of the child. The response from the Social Security Administration was that there had not been. Homicide Investigators, Detective Bob Hester and Detective Greg Santamala, as well as Forensics Laboratory Manager, Ryan Gallagher, met with Dr. Albert Chu of the Medical Examiner's Office. Doctor Chu was apprised of the aforementioned facts. Dr. Chu also consulted with the genetic genealogists involved in this investigation. Dr. Chu indicated that based on the facts presented and the conclusions of the genetic genealogists, the death certificate for the unknown child, OME No. 57-0863, would be amended to reflect the child's birth name, Joseph Augustus Zarelli. Joseph's date of birth is January 13th, 1953.


(Everything in bold was done by me)
 
I hope there are enough people around that still have memories of this 65 years later.
I hope so too. Definitely a time to be having conversations with our elders. I love finding old photos of the area my family are from and showing them to my grandad, it always leads to fun conversations about people he remembers or people he even knew of that lived in the street. I see it in Facebook groups all the time how people can bond and reminisce over old photos or newspaper clippings. Who knows what little tidbit someone might have stashed away, something that maybe stood out to them at the time but years put a distance to it. I hope people gain confidence to come forward because IMO I think any information on that neighbourhood, even if they think it's trivial, could be helpful to the police.
 
Replying to @Ontario Mom's post on previous thread.


This is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you so much. The ONLY reason for wanting to identify either parent is IF it's going to somehow lead us to WHO had Joseph at the time of his death.

Imo, and I guess it's just a gut feeling, his bio parents did not cause his death and did not know the BITB was their boy. My feeling, moo, is he was with his bio mom for a while and then *something* happened. And somehow, possibly through the foster system or the agency they worked with, or in an unofficial way, he ended up with an abusive guardian who murdered him.

MOO
I feel the same way. We don't really need to know who his parents were unless one of them turns out to be the culprit. Based on what we learned at the press conference, investigators don't sound like they believe his parents are involved as of right now, but that could change.

Based on what happened in my family, I think there's a good chance the father may not have known Joseph existed. My cousin's father had no clue she existed. She was the result of a one night stand, something my aunt did deliberately with the express purpose of conceiving a child. She wanted another one, was single, and sperm banks didn't exist in our neck of the woods. She felt this was her only option if she wanted another kid. She kept the father's identity a secret from the rest of the family and told my cousin who her father was in her teens. By that time, he was long gone, had moved states away, and her options of finding him were limited, as this was before widespread use of the internet. She found his family only recently through a DNA site, matching with a paternal cousin. His kids and wife had no clue, and her bio father had recently passed away, so he never knew.
 
Last edited:
Replying to @Ontario Mom's post on previous thread.


This is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you so much. The ONLY reason for wanting to identify either parent is IF it's going to somehow lead us to WHO had Joseph at the time of his death.

Imo, and I guess it's just a gut feeling, his bio parents did not cause his death and did not know the BITB was their boy. My feeling, moo, is he was with his bio mom for a while and then *something* happened. And somehow, possibly through the foster system or the agency they worked with, or in an unofficial way, he ended up with an abusive guardian who murdered him.

MOO

I think we've been on the same page with this from the time his name was revealed. The only thing I would like to know from the bio family is how Joseph ended up with the person/people who abused him.
 

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