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02/26/58 Philadelphia Inquirer

Seek Clue in Carton Death


The identity of a small boy found murdered in a large cardboard box in Fox Chase exactly one year ago today is still unknown, but detectives continue to run down new leads in the case, it was disclosed yesterday by Capt. David H. Roberts, commander of the Homicide Squad.

The case of the undernourished child, believed to have been between 3 and 5 years old, remains open on the books of the Police Department and detectives went out on a fresh track as recently as last Sunday, Roberts reported.

However, after tracing down hundreds of leads, no solid clue has been turned up. It still is believed that the parents, guardians or whoever had custody of the boy probably lived in this area.

The nude, bruised body was discovered in the box of Susquehanna rd. west of Verree rd. The child was a blue-eyed blond with a crude short haircut. The body weighed 40 pounds.

The death of the boy was attributed to a severe beating. Detectives were the mourners at a funeral held last July 24, when the body was buried in the city cemetery at Mechanicsville and Dunks Ferry rds., Holmesburg.


09/23/58 Philadelphia Bulletin

Lie Test Clears City Soldier In Death of Mystery Boy


Philadelphia detectives in Nashville, Tenn., are convinced that Private Edward J. Posivak, 25, knows nothing more than he read in the papers about the strange deaths of two children here.

Homicide Captain Joseph F. O'Neill said the two investigators, Lieutenant Joseph Brody and Detective Robert Gilton, are returning to Philadelphia.

Posivak, of Mt. Vernon st. near 12th, was picked up in Nashville last Tuesday. Police there questioned him about the disappearance of Mrs. Bernice Overstreet, 21, whom he had been dating. Mrs. Overstreet turned up unharmed Friday.

In a car Posivak was driving, police found a clipping about the unidentified small boy found murdered in the Fox Chase section here on February 26, 1957.

They also found four clippings about Mary Jane Barker, four, who disappeared from her Bellmawr, N.J., home that same morning.

Seven days later, she was found starved to death in the closet of a vacant house near her home. Authorities concluded she shut herself in the closet. There was no way to open the door from the inside.

Captain O'Neill said Posivak submitted to a test on the portable lie detector the detectives took to Nashville with them Sunday.

The results of the test, he said, were entirely negative, confirming Posivak's assertion that his relatives sent him the clippings as matters of general interest.

Extensive questioning convinced the detectives that Posivak was very probably nowhere near Philadelphia the day the boy was found dead and the girl disappeared, O'Neill said.

11/23/58 Philadelphia Bulletin

Tests Point to Maker of Blanket in 1957 Murder of Unknown Boy


Of the Bulletin Staff


A new lead has developed in the case of the unknown boy found murdered in Fox Chase on February 25, 1957.

The lead involves the cheap cotton flannel blanket, which partly covered the boy's nude body when it was found inside a cardboard carton in a thicket off Susquehanna Road west of Verree Road.

Since the crime was discovered 21 months ago, investigators have been unable to identify the boy, about four years old, or to trace the blanket.


Given to FBI


Now through some sleuthing of the medical examiner's office, police have a clue to the origin of the blanket it was learned yesterday.

They have turned it over to the FBI to run down for them. The clue is that the blanket is manufactured by one of two mills. One is located in North Carolina; the other is in the Province of Quebec, Canada. Their hope is to establish which of the two mills manufactured the blanket and then in what area the blanket was originally sold.

"This is a step in the right direction," said Chief Inspector John J. Kelly, in charge of detectives. "It may bring results if we can localize the area where these blankets were sold."

The blanket found with the body was old, faded, and worn. It had been torn in two halves. Approximately a quarter of one of the halves was missing.

It had a plaid design with diamonds and blocks in green, rust, brown, and white. One half of the blanket measured 33 by 76 inches, while the other, from which the piece was missing, was 31 by 51 inches.

With the cooperation of the homicide squad, the Medical Examiner's office took the blanket on November 3 to the Philadelphia Textile Institute, School House Lane and Henry Avenue.

There Dean Donald D. Partridge consented to have it laboratory tested by Professor Percival Theel and Associate Professor David W. Giese.


Remembers Weave


As the two examined the weave through microscopes, Giese remembered that a student had shown him this particular weave two years ago.

Giese checked with the student and was told that the student had gotten a sample of blanket material of the same weave, but different pattern, from a Canadian mill.

With the help of this information and checking the weave against other samples, Theel and Giese determined that the blanket was made either at the Beacon Mills, Swannanoa, N.C., or the Esmond Mills at Granby, Province of Quebec, Canada, from which the student had gotten his sample.

Swannanoa, with a population of about 1,700, is in Buncombe County, east of Asheville, Granby, with a population of 26,000, is in Shefford County, 50 miles east of Montreal and 30 miles from the New York border.


No Report Yet


The medical examiner's office relayed this information to Kelly who, in turn, requested that the FBI run it out. He asked the FBI to determine which of the two mills produced the blanket, how many such blankets were woven, and where they had been distributed. No report has been received yet from the FBI.

The boy's medium-brown hair had been crudely cropped short, apparently at the time of his death. He had blue eyes, weighed 30 pounds, and was 40 inches tall.

The child was finally buried in the city's cemetery on July 24, 1957, after detectives contributed to a burial fund. This was after his body had lain unidentified in the morgue for six months. A marker later was placed on the small grave. The inscription reads: "Heavenly Father, bless this unknown boy. February 25, 1957."


Bone Detective


Dr. Wilton M. Krogman, professor of physical anthropology at the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, was called in by the Medical Examiner's office to study the body's characteristics.

Dr. Krogman, known as the "bone detective," reported his findings in a recent issue of Lippincott's Medical Science.

The article in the semi-monthly scientific journal is entitled, "Who Is This Boy?" and carries a morgue picture of the child's head and shoulders.


Dead 3 to 14 Days


Among the points made by Dr. Krogman in his article:


The boy may have been dead from three to 14 days when found.

A first examination showed a thin but well-developed boy of about 4 to 5 years of age.

The skin of the right hand and both feet was much wrinkled, indicating possibly a rather long immersion in water.

The boy had a height age of about three years, eight months, and a weight age of two years, two months.

However, it is possible the boy actually weighed 35 pounds at death, which would place his weight age at about three.


Long, Narrow Head


Head measurements showed a long, narrow head, a high forehead, a narrow face, and a high, narrow nose.

These traits, together with his brown hair and blue eyes, indicated a national background of Northwest or West Central Europe, possibly Scandinavia, West Germany, England or Scotland.

Analysis of X-rays of the body suggested a skeletal age of around three. However, there was evidence of a chronic growth disturbance about a year prior to death, which may have slowed the boy down six months to a year in his growth progress.

A final evaluation shows a probably chronological age of about four.


Was He Kidnapped?


Dr. Krogman's article concludes:

"All the evidence permits a few deductions (or hunches) as to the background of the child: (a) the suggestion of chronic ill health prior to death points to a family of lower class or reduced socio-economic circumstances; (b) it is possible also, that the presumed ill health may have been due to neglect and malnutrition, such as may be found in families constantly on the move (itinerant or migratory workers); (c) or is this a kidnapped child, with the abductor(s) frantically 'on the lam'?

Shortly after the boy's body was found, it was suggested that he might have been Steven Craig Damman, son of an Air Force enlisted man, who was kidnapped outside a Long Island supermarket October 31, 1955, when he was 34 months old.

Nassau County, N.Y., detectives, who checked and discounted this possibility, said the Damman boy had suffered a fractured left arm in January 1954.

According to Dr. Krogman's article, the X-ray film of the unknown boy's left arm suggested "the possibility" of an injury there.

12/19/58 Philadelphia Bulletin

Police Will Decorate Slain Boy's Grave


The unknown boy whose body was found in a box in Fox Chase February 26, 1957, will be remembered Sunday by two policemen who helped investigate his murder.

Captain David Brown, now in command of the robbery unit, and Lieutenant Andrew Waters, of the Homicide Squad, will drive to the child's grave in the city cemetery at Dunks Ferry and Mechanics road, Byberry, and put a Christmas wreath on it.

Finding of the boy's body near Susquehanna and Verree roads started a nationwide police investigation but his identity never was learned.

02/26/59 Philadelphia Bulletin

Police to Decorate Slain Boy's Grave


Lieutenant Andrew Waters, of the police homicide unit, will go to the city cemetery, Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville roads on Sunday and place a wreath on a small grave.

In the grave lies an unidentified boy about four years old, whose murder touched off one of the most intensive investigations in Philadelphia history.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the finding of the boy's body in a cardboard box in a field at Verree and Susquehanna roads, Fox Chase.

Captain Joseph O'Neill, head of the homicide unit, said the most intensive manhunt ever put on by his unit has run down leads as far away as Mexico, California and Europe, all without success.

Philadelphia policemen contributed to buy the white headstone, which marks the grave.


03/02/59 Philadelphia Inquirer

2 Wreaths Honor The Unknown Boy


A wreath from a couple who lost a son when he was 13 years of age was placed yesterday along with one from members of the Philadelphia police homicide squad on the headstone of the grave of an unidentified boy whose body was found in a cardboard box two years ago at Susquehanna and Verree rds.

Lt. Andrew Waters of the homicide squad placed the wreaths on the stone at the Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville rd. cemetery. The second wreath was from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Short, at 809 Cherry St.

Police said the couple donated $50 for the boy's funeral after selling some pet dogs to get the money.

06/28/59 Philadelphia Bulletin

New Moves Started To Identify Slain Boy


Of The Bulletin Staff


A new attempt will be started this week to identify the unknown white boy found slain in Fox Chase on February 26, 1957.

On Wednesday 15 women volunteers will begin a massive examination of medical records at Philadelphia General Hospital to see if the youngster, believed to have been between three and five years old, was ever a patient there.

If records at the city hospital fail to produce a clue, the team of women will carry on the record search at other hospitals.

There was evidence that the murdered boy was undernourished and sickly and may have been operated on.


Found in a Box


The child's nude body, covered by a torn and faded cheap cotton blanket, was left in a cardboard carton in a thicket off Susquehanna road near Verree road.

The records check is beginning at PGH because it is believed the child, if he was a hospital patient, may well have been a charity case.

Also, a surgeon on the staff at PGH recently recalled that he operated at one time on a boy who may have been the unknown murder victim.

The hospital medical records are being examined for a record of an operation or illness that the unknown boy may have had. 


Begun by Spelman


The plan to check hospital records was launched by Dr. Joseph W. Spelman, city medical examiner, in co-operation with PGH officials.

PGH recruited the women volunteers to make the check. They come from various private social welfare agencies.

They will work full-time at PGH until all its records for the years 1953 through 1955 are checked out. This will take three to four weeks.

The women were given a briefing on the case at the city hospital last Wednesday by Dr. Spelman, Captain David Brown, of the homicide squad, and Dr. Wilton M. Krogman, professor of physical anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.


Examined Boy's Body


Also attending were Dr. Alfred C. LaBoccetta, PGH medical director, and Dr. Paul Gyrogy, head of its children's department.

Dr. Krogman, "the bone detective," made an examination of the unknown boy's body for Dr. Spelman before it was interred in the city cemetery in Holmesburg on July 24, 1957.


Among Dr. Krogman's findings, on which he briefed the women, were:

There was evidence of surgical care or healed accidental wounds.

There was a half-inch crescent-shaped scar on the right side of the boy's neck.

Weighed only 30 Pounds.

Other scars included three at the hairline and one on the left ankle.


The boy was about 40 inches tall and weighed about 30 pounds. He was of slender build. He had a high, narrow head, face and nose. His hair was brown, close and crudely cropped, and his eyes were blue.

These physical traits suggest a northwest or west-central European ancestry.

Dr. Krogman said his examination of the boy suggested that he was in chronic ill health prior to his death.

Dr. Krogman said this pointed to a lower-class family background and reduced economic circumstances.

If the women turn up any medical records showing any similarity to these findings, they will bring them to the attention of Drs. LaBoccetta and Gyrogy for evaluation.