'Boy In A Box' Cold Case Murder Victim Identified Nearly 66 Years Later
By Jason Hall
December 9, 2022
Philadelphia authorities have identified the victim infamously known as the "Boy in the Box" nearly 66 years later.
The child, who was found battered and stuffed inside a cardboard box in 1957, was named Joseph Augustus Zarelli, the Philadelphia Police Department announced during a news conference on Thursday (December 8) via the Associated Press.
“When people think about the boy in the box, a profound sadness is felt, not just because a child was murdered, but because his entire identity and his rightful claim to own his existence was taken away,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Outlaw said the cold case has "haunted this community, the Philadelphia Police Department, our nation and the world" for more than six decades while addressing the new development.
The homicide investigation remains open and local authorities are hoping that publicly revealing Zarelli's name could create from fresh leads, while acknowledging that the length of time could complicate their goal.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle for us to definitively determine who caused this child’s death,” said Capt. Jason Smith, commanding officer of the homicide unit via the AP. “We may not make an arrest. We may never make an identification. But we’re going to do our darndest to try.”
Both of Zarelli's parents are dead, however, authorities confirmed that he has living siblings in the west Philadelphia area.
Zarelli was found naked and badly bruised in a wooded area of the Fox Chase neighborhood on February 25, 1957.
The 4-year-old was wrapped in a blanket and placed inside a large JCPenney bassinet box at the time and appeared to be malnourished at the time of his death, according to police.