Desperate times call for desperate measures and this particular case tantalized investigator Remington Bristow so much that he himself offered $1000 to anyone who can give him a lead on the case. He spent 36 years of his career, trying to crack the case only to hit a roadblock when the solution was within his grasp. His goal for a little more than three and a half decades was to discover the identity of “America’s Unknown Child”.
On 25th February, 1957, a small boy, aged four to six approximately, was found in a cardboard box by a dumpster in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia. The boy was found naked, his body abused and battered and wrapped in a blanket. Before the body was reported to the police two people apparently discovered him there. One, a young man checking his rat traps, stumbled on this deceased child but fearing the cops would confiscate his traps, he did not report the matter. Another a college student, knowing there were animal traps around, investigated the place only to find the boy. He did not immediately report his find, out of fear of the cops, but did so the next day after contemplation.
Police on finding the boy were optimistic on discovering the identity of the boy that would lead to cracking the case and made huge efforts by placing posters of the boy all over the city. The Media also tried to solve this mystery and publicized it day after day. Despite the efforts put into it, the case remained stagnant as no one came forward to identify the boy or lend clues to help crack the case. Although there was lack of evidence, two theories sparked the interest of the media and led to extensive investigations by the FBI.
The first was a foster home. Investigator Remington Bristow discovered blankets similar to the one the boy was wrapped in, at a foster home. He hypothesized that the boy was the son of the step-daughter of the man who ran the home. He thought that the man ‘accidently’ killed the boy to avoid the stigma of society as his daughter wasn’t married yet. The investigation on this fell flat on its face as there was no evidence to suggest the same. Later, DNA tests proved that his step-daughter was not the mother of the boy.
The second theory was the closest the police ever got to possibly cracking the case. An unidentified woman claimed that her mother bought the boy from his biological parents in the summer of 1954. The boy was on the receiving end of physical abuse for more than two and a half years and finally killed after her mother slammed the door on his head after he vomited in the bathtub. She then cut the boy’s hair which correlated with how they found the boy (his hair unprofessionally cut and bruises on his neck line). Although the story was plausible, this unidentified woman, who was accusing her mother of the crime, had a history of mental illness. The neighbors of this woman, who were always granted easy access to the house, denied any such claims that a boy stayed in the household. They claimed her accusations against her mother were “ridiculous”.
The boy was buried in a potter’s field and in 1998 his body was exhumed to obtain DNA samples. He was later buried again in a larger plot, donated by the son of the man who originally buried him. The media covered his reburial and a good turnout from the citizens was seen. He was buried in a grave in which the epitaph read “America’s Unknown Child” and was decorated with flowers and stuffed animals by the residents of Fox Chase, Philadelphia.
58 years have passed since the boy was found in the box and the case still remains a mystery. The best in the business involved themselves to crack this case, including the resident investigators and the FBI and now the Vidocq society dedicates their time to help close the case. If you do come across any information that will help them seek justice for this little boy, it’s best you contact them directly on the link given below.