“Boy in the Box” Identified After Six Decades – Identification Made Through DNA Analysis


The body of a little child – between 4 and 6 – was found in a cardboard box back in 1957 in Philadelphia (USA). The police could not identify the young boy and the case has remained the oldest unsolved murder case of Philadelphia – until now. The identification, made through DNA analysis, represents investigators’ biggest break in the decades-old cold case.


On Thursday, the Philadelphia Police publicly identified the little boy whose dead body was found in a box in a rural area in Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood 65 years ago. The boy’s name was Joseph Augustus Zarelli and he lived close to the place where his remains were found.


According to the police, Zarelli was badly beaten and dumped in a bassinet box in February 1957 by an unknown murderer. The 4-year-old boy died from blunt force trauma, his head was shaved and he also had scars on his body. The police says that the boy was never reported as a missing person. Now, in 2022, Zarelli’s mother and father are deceased, however, he still has some living siblings whose identity was not revealed by the police.


The Philadelphia Police has been working on the case for nearly 65 years now, and recently, the advent of forensic genetic genealogy and DNA sampling provided investigators with a pathway to a name. However, the mystery is still not solved, since the police would not comment on the possibility of any range of charges or criminal culpability on anyone’s part in connection with Zarelli’s murder.






Photo: Handout – Philadelphia Police Department – AFP


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