The murder of four-year-old Joseph Augustus Zarelli was considered “one of the oldest unsolved murders”. Now the turning point: Careful investigative work and in-depth DNA analyzes have been carried out in the case of Boy in the Box. The investigation into the possible killer is still ongoing
A cold case from 1957, a story for a four-year-old. His body was found in a trunk in Philadelphia. The city’s police department has consistently described it as one of the “oldest unsolved homicides”. Until now.
This body is indeed determined: it shall be Joseph Augustus Zarelli. It’s the tipping point predicted for decades, made possible by meticulous investigative work and in-depth DNA analyzes using state-of-the-art technology (systems that have made it possible to put an end to so many other cold cases).
Meanwhile, the tape must have been rewound at the end of February 1957, when the child’s naked, lifeless body was found wrapped in a blanket inside a cardboard box, bearing signs described by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw as “modern and dated”.
The case ended up in the papers, Public opinion is panicking. The mystery is made even more mysterious because no one has reported Joseph Augustus missing: he appears to have been a child without parents.
“For sixty-five years, the story of the ‘American Child With No Name’ has haunted this community, the Philadelphia Police Department, our nation and the world,” Outlaw said at a news conference Thursday. “Although Joseph Augustus Zarelli’s identity was stolen, this child was never forgotten.”
On February 25, 1957, Joseph was found near Susquehanna Road in a wooded area of the city.. “It was clear that the child had suffered horrors that no one and no one should be subjected to,” he told reporters. He was “severely beaten”, and his hair was “cruelly cut”.
An autopsy confirmed Joseph Augustus Zarelli to have been about four years old and highlighted “multiple abrasions, bruises, hemorrhages, and a pleural effusion,” Smith continued. Wounds caused by a blunt instrument.
Investigators chased down and discarded hundreds of clues: At one point, the boy appeared to be a Hungarian refugee, and the lead instead leads to a child being kidnapped outside a Long Island supermarket in 1955. Adoption. But every path led to a dead end. Therefore, more than half a century later, the investigation into who was responsible is still ongoing.
“We have our suspicions as to who it was, but it would be irresponsible to reveal them, because there is an ongoing investigation,” said Capt. Jason Smith of the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit. He hopes that discovering the identity will lead to a response and help for the population, but he admitted that solving the case is still a long way off.
“We may never arrest anyone, but we will do everything we can to put an end to this story.”
Dec 9, 2022 (changed on Dec 9, 2022 | 16:22)
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