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03/09/57 Philadelphia Bulletin
Boy Not Hers, Mother Says
Lancaster Woman Views Body Here
Police are still seeking the identity of a young boy found murdered in Fox Chase February 26 after a Lancaster woman failed to identify the body at the city morgue last night.
However, Chief Inspector John J. Kelly ordered a 13-state alarm to pick up Charles D. Speece, 36, formerly of Lancaster, for "investigation in connection with homicide."
The victim was identified yesterday by six persons as Terry Lee Speece, eight, who had been living with his father on 2d st. near Penn in Camden for the past six weeks.
Separated From Husband
Mrs. Wilhelmina Speece, 27, the boy's mother, said she had been separated from her husband for more than a year and had not seen the boy in that time. She is living at 555 Rockland st., Lancaster, with another son, Timothy, three.
State police brought her to Philadelphia last night where she viewed the body and emphatically said, "It's not him."
Homicide detectives Edmund Repsch and Samuel Powell questioned her further and she said she was positive and "knew her own son."
Will Compare Prints
Police said identification experts would compare the footprints of the Speece boy, received from the Lancaster Hospital where he was born January 5, 1949, with footprints of the dead boy today to make absolutely sure it is not the Speece boy.
Police said the boy's father is being sought to determine if the missing child is with him. The two left their Camden apartment February 23 although the rent was paid until the 28th, police said.
Wanted in Lancaster
Speece, according to police, is also wanted by Lancaster police for fraudulent conversion and Baltimore police for receiving money under false pretenses.
The message sent out by police said he was last seen driving a 1947 four-door blue Hudson sedan. He is described as having a medium build, brown hair and blue eyes.
The child's nude body was found wrapped in a blanket in a cardboard bassinet carton in a thicket off Susquehanna road between Verree and Pine roads.
03/10/57 Philadelphia Bulletin
FBI Will Study Old Cap For Clue to Murdered Boy
Police turned to a discarded cap again yesterday in their efforts to identify the boy whose body was found in Fox Chase February 26.
The cap, of blue corduroy with a leather strap and buckle in the back, was size seven and one-eighth, and contained tissue paper placed there by the manufacturer to maintain its shape.
Chief Inspector John J. Kelly said the cap was found about 12 feet from the thicket where the boy's body was discovered in a cardboard carton off Susquehanna road, between Verree and Pine roads.
Hairs in Cap
In the cap were some hairs. On the body of the dead boy, Kelly said, one long brown hair, which did not match his own hair, was found. This and the hair from the cap have been sent to the FBI laboratory for analysis.
Through the cap's label, detectives learned it was made by the Robbins Hat & Cap Co., 2603 S. 7th st.
Kelly said police interviewed Mrs. Hannah Robbins, owner of the firm, who said the cap is one of 12 made from corduroy remnants some time before May, 1956. She told detectives the cap was made without a strap, and the man she made it for asked her to sew a strap on it.
Buyer Resembles Boy
She said the man to whom she sold the cap resembled the photograph of the dead child on a police circular. Mrs. Robbins told detectives the man had blond hair.
Kelly said police are still searching for Charles D. Speece, 36, formerly of Lancaster, for questioning.
The dead boy was identified Friday by six persons as Terry Lee Speece, eight, who had been living with his father on 2d st. near Penn, Camden, for the six weeks preceding February 23.
Mother Fails in Identity
The boy's mother, Mrs. Wilhelmina Speece, 27, of Lancaster, took a look at the dead boy in the morgue Friday night, and said he was not her son. She is separated from her husband, an itinerant roofer and laborer, and had not seen the boy for a year.
Kelly said the six Camden residents insisted the dead boy was Terry Speece, or at least the boy who spent six weeks with Charles D. Speece at the Camden address.
03/11/57 Philadelphia Bulletin
Tulsa Woman Believes Boy in Box Is Her Son
Detectives investigating the murder of the unidentified boy whose nude body was found in a cardboard carton in Fox Chase on February 26 received a telephone call today from a Tulsa, Okla., woman.
Captain David H. Roberts, head of the homicide squad, said the woman identified herself as Mrs. Cora Thompson and said she thought the boy found beaten to death here might be her son who has been missing for two years.
Roberts said he was sending pictures of the dead boy to Tulsa police so that the woman could check them.
03/12/57 Philadelphia Bulletin
Woman Doubts Slain Boy Is Her Missing Grandson
The maternal grandparents of eight-year-old Terry Lee Speece viewed the body of the boy found in Fox Chase on February 26, and said they could not positively identify the boy as their grandson.
Mrs. Alice Wagner, 48, of 724 First st., Lancaster, and her divorced husband, Stewart Loomis, 54, a machinist, of 555 Rockland st., Lancaster, were brought here last night by state police from the Lancaster barracks in a further attempt to identify the body as that of the Speece child.
The boy's mother, Mrs. Wilhelmina Speece, 27, of the Rockland st. address, viewed the body on Friday night and said positively that it was not her child.
Her parents were not so positive in denying that the dead boy was Terry Lee.
Detective Samuel Powell, of the homicide squad, and State Police Lieutenant George Sauer said the woman gave the body a thorough examination.
She told them she was not positive it was her grandson. She said the features resemble Terry Lee, the dead boy is about the same size, and the middle toe of the right foot is bent in the same way as Terry Lee's was since an iron fell on his foot four years ago, when he was four years old.
Loomis told Powell the boy is very similar to Terry Lee, but he can't be sure. He said he and his former wife haven't seen their grandson for over a year.
Asked where this leaves the investigation, Powell replied, "Back where we started."
A 113-state alarm is out for the boy's father, Charles D. Speece, 36, an itinerant roofer. Terry Lee has been living with him.
03/13/57 Philadelphia Bulletin
Youth Reveals He Saw Body Of Mystery Boy
His Home 100 Yards From Where Victim Was Found in Box
Police said this afternoon that a youth, 18, told him he discovered the body of the murdered boy in Fox Chase on the weekend of February 22-23, but was afraid to tell anyone about it. The body was not found by police until Tuesday, February 26.
Chief Inspector John J. Kelly emphasized that the young informant is definitely not a suspect. But his information may help to shed light on when the body was abandoned.
Kelly said the youth saying he made the discovery is John Powroznik. His home on Pine road near Susquehanna road is about 100 yards from the spot where the bruised, blanket-wrapped body was found in a cardboard box, according to Kelly.
The police officer said that Powroznik was in school when the area homes were first surveyed. Yesterday afternoon, however, Detectives Edward Repsch and Raymond Latchford talked to him when they re-checked the neighborhood.
Kelly said the youth told the detectives that on either Saturday, February 23, or Sunday, February 24, he sighted the box, with the body, while going to a basketball game. Powroznik was not sure of the day but said it was drizzling at the time, Kelly said.
He said that the Weather Bureau reported a light rain about 1 P.M. on that Saturday.
Powroznik was so horrified and frightened by what he had seen that he ran home and said nothing about it to his parents, Waclaw and Appolinia, Kelly said the boy related.
Had Muskrat Traps
Kelly also said that the youth claimed ownership of a number of muskrat traps in the vicinity.
These traps indirectly led to police discovery of the body. On the following Monday, February 25, a LaSalle College junior, Fred Benonis, 26, was driving along Susquehanna road to classes when he stopped to chase a rabbit. While out of the car, he saw the traps and then the box. He thought it possibly contained a doll but the next day he told police about it, and they found the body.
Kelly said the nearest muskrat trap was about 150 feet from where the body was found. He said police photographed the area yesterday to aid in their painstaking retracing of the case.
Powroznik was interrogated today by Captain David H. Roberts of the homicide squad and Detective Inspector John O'Neill as well as Kelly.
Last night a missing eight-year-old whom police thought might be the slain child turned up alive and well.
Well-dressed and well-fed, Terry Lee Speece was found by state police in Ardmore living with his father, Charles, 37, a roofer, and uncle, Robert, 26.
The state police trailed a friend and former employer of Speece from Lancaster to the Ardmore rendezvous several hours after the hunted man had telephoned from Newark, N.J.
Didn't Know Of Search
The father, who said he wasn't aware police were looking for him until yesterday, was taken back to Lancaster by state police to face a nonsupport charge. Camden detectives lodged a detainer on a bad-check charge.
Lieutenant George E. Sauer, state police liaison officer, and Captain David H. Roberts, homicide commander, gave this account:
Speece and his son and brother left Camden on February 23 - three days before the body was found - and drove to Newark, where he hoped to find work.
Yesterday, Speece called his parents, Martin and Elizabeth Speece, at 26 S. Prince st., Lancaster. He assured his parents Terry Lee was alive and allowed the boy to speak with them. Speece also called the home of Benjamin Geller, of Orchard st., Glen Moore Circle, a Lancaster suburb.
Troopers Keep Watch
State police reasoned Speece would try to make contact again, so Troopers Charles E. Simmons and William J. Devlin were assigned to watch the Geller home.
Geller left his home at 7 P.M. and drove to 225 W. Lancaster av., Ardmore. A few minutes later, Speece, his son and brother arrived in a 1947 two-tone blue Hudson sedan. Police picked them up immediately.
Terry Lee, 47 1/2 inches tall and weighing 56 pounds, was dressed in a yellow western-style shirt with white fringes and embroidery on the sleeves. He wore well-pressed gray woolen trousers and a western felt hat.
Roberts said there was no charge in Philadelphia against Speece.