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10/03/60 Philadelphia Daily News

Mom of 9 Quizzed In Fox Chase Death



A 30-year-old Colorado mother of nine, held in $10,000 bail in the confessed trash-can disposal of her daughter's corpse will be questioned about the unsolved case of the Fox Chase Boy.

The Fox Chase Boy presented Philadelphia police with one of their most baffling mysteries when the battered body of a 6-year-old boy was found in a weed patch on Feb. 26, 1957.

No one ever came forth to identify the child. No boy of the youngster's age and description was reported missing in the Philadelphia area at the time the body was found in a cardboard carton.

THE COLORADO development in the baffling case stems from a "hunch" by Joseph Komarnicki, former head of the Philadelphia Detective Bureau's missing persons division.

Komarnicki, like scores of other local law officers, has long been fascinated by the Fox Chase case. He was determined to leave no lead unchecked in his efforts to learn the identity of the young victim and that of his slayer.

Komarnicki was reading the Daily News last March when he saw a photograph of Mrs. Margaret Martinez of Thornton, in Adams County, Colo. The caption told how Mrs. Martinez was arrested after allegedly throwing her three-year-old daughter's body into a trash can.

MRS. MARTINEZ matched the description of a woman seen near the spot where the boy's body was found in Fox Chase. The description of the woman was known only to police; it never was disclosed publicly.

Komarnicki, now a deputy sheriff here, kept thinking about the Martinez woman as spring turned to summer. When his vacation began last Monday Komarnicki began driving west - on his own time and his own money.

In Colorado, Komarnicki went to see Adams County Sheriff Robert Roberts, a former FBI agent. What Komarnicki learned from Roberts got him even more interested.

ROBERTS told Komarnicki that the Martinez case began when neighbors saw one of the Martinez children, Raymond, 9, scavenging food from a garbage pail. A policeman went to investigate but was not permitted to enter the Martinez house.

Mrs. Martinez denied that the boy scavenger was her son. When asked where Raymond was she replied, "He's in Philadelphia." But a search of the house found the boy hiding under a bed.

Roberts said Raymond was suffering from malnutrition and weighed only 36 pounds. Raymond was one of four of her children that Mrs. Martinez "hated from birth", her husband told investigators.

THEN POLICE learned that three-year-old Rose Marie Martinez was missing. Asked where the girl was, Mrs. Martinez replied, "She's staying with relatives in Philadelphia." Later, she changed her story, said Rose Marie had died and "I put her in a trash can."

Mrs. Martinez then taunted police, "Try and find her." A widespread search was made but the body was never found.

Although Mrs. Martinez complained that she dumped her daughter's body in the trash "because we were too poor for a funeral," her husband, Joseph, then was making $120 a week take-home pay in an aircraft factory.

BUT NEWS spread that Raymond and two of the other Martinez children were suffering from malnutrition, despite Martinez's relatively high income, public opinion forced the family to move to Longmont, Colo., about 50 miles north of Denver. The children were placed in foster homes.

Sheriff Roberts said that Mrs. Martinez was once confined in an institution for the criminally insane. He said Martinez has relatives in either the Manayunk or Fox Chase sections of Philadelphia and that he believes the family visited here in early 1957.

Although all of Mrs. Martinez's "recorded" children have been accounted for, Roberts said it was "not unusual" for Mexican families in the area to bear children without any baptismal or medical records being made. Several of Mrs. Martinez's children were born at home.

SHERIFF Roberts who believes "there is a strong possibility" of a connection between the Martinez family and the Fox Chase Boy, has thus far been able to question Mrs. Martinez "only briefly." She is scheduled to be tried sometime next month on a charge of criminal neglect.

Roberts said Mrs. Martinez was a "pathological liar" who frequently made long trips without her husband's knowledge.

Roberts said he would question relatives of Mrs. Martinez to learn whether she ever had any children matching the description of the Fox Chase boy. Roberts will also check footprints of the dead boy against hospital records in the Denver area.

ROBERTS ALSO plans to check on where the Martinez family purchased a bassinet found in their home. The cardboard box, in which the Fox Chase boy was found, had been used to hold a bassinet sold by the J.C. Penney store in Upper Darby.

02/24/61 Philadelphia Bulletin

Carnival Family Quizzed In Boy-in-Box Slaying


Of The Bulletin Staff


Two homicide detectives left Philadelphia today to run down "a good lead" in the four-year-old mystery of the murdered "boy in the box."

The body of the boy, who has never been identified, was discovered in Fox Chase February 25, 1957, inside a cardboard carton off Susquehanna road, west of Verree road.

Since that time, detectives have run down thousands of clues.

Chief Inspector John J. Kelly today described the latest tip "as good a lead as we have had in some time."

He ordered Captain David Brown, of the Homicide Squad, to detail two men - Sergeant Frank Brennan and Detective Samuel Hammes - to visit Syracuse, N.Y., Lawrenceville, Va., and other necessary points. They are to check out a family of itinerant carnival workers.


Parents Under Arrest


The parents, Kenneth Dudley, 47, and his wife, Irene Adelle Dudley, 44, are under arrest in Lawrenceville on charges of causing the death of their seven-year-old daughter, Carol Ann, by malnutrition, exposure and neglect.

Four of the couple's ten known children are missing, including two boys who might be about the age of the Fox Chase boy, Kelly said.

Sheriff W.E. Hill, of Brunswick County, Va., informed Kelly and Brown that the girl's body was found in the woods February 7. It was wrapped in an old, tattered blanket, much as the body of the mystery boy was wrapped.


Was Undernourished


Hill quoted the state's chief medical examiner as reporting the girl died of malnutrition and exposure, with a broken leg as a contributing cause. The sheriff reported the mother placed the body in the woods while the father drove to a service station.

Kelly and Brown reported Carol Ann was wearing clothes purchased in a J.C. Penney store. The mystery boy's body was discovered in a box, which once contained a J.C. Penney bassinet.

Police here were informed the Dudleys were traveling in a 1940 car, in which was a two-burner oil stove used for cooking and heating, as they headed south after unsuccessfully applying for work at the Richmond winter quarters of a traveling carnival.


All Children Traced


Hill furnished Philadelphia investigators this rundown on the family's history:


The parents were married in Mount Tabor Church, Syracuse, N.Y., July 21, 1934.

Their first child was the present Mrs. Marjorie Dudley Cooper, now 25, whose husband, Richard, is a part-time policeman in Syracuse. The second was Edward Thomas, who was born August 19, 1937, but has died.

The third is Mrs. Jean Dudley Cooper, 21, of Fayetteville, N.Y., whose husband, Lawrence, is Richard Cooper's brother.


Buried Child in Yard


The fourth was Kenneth Edwin, Jr., born August 24, 1941, but who died at the age of six and was buried in the yard of the home where the Dudleys then lived. The father served nine months in jail in Jamesville for illegal burial when this was discovered two years later.

The fifth and sixth children are both missing and are the ones in whom Philadelphia detectives are most interested.

They are Norman James, born February 12, 1949, who would have been eight when the Fox Chase body was found, and Charles Augustus, born December 17, 1951, who would have been five. Both were born at the Syracuse Memorial Clinic.

The seventh child was Carol Ann, born December 13, 1953.


Two Others Missing


The eighth and ninth are also missing. They are Claude Arthur, born March 28, 1955, and Debbie Jean, born July 13, 1956.

The tenth, alive and with the parents, is Christine Adelle, born March 19, 1958.

According to Kelly, Dudley was working for traveling shows in 1957, passing through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

"One of the points we want to clear up is whether this took him into the vicinity of this city," the chief inspector said.


To Seek Footprints


Among other points, the detectives will be looking for footprint records of Norman James and Charles Augustus in hopes they can be compared with those of the body found here.

However, the Syracuse clinic where they were born said today that it had only recently begun taking footprints of newborn babies and had none for the two Dudley children.

Investigators will also interview barbers, to discover whether the Dudley's regularly had their children's hair cut in professional shops. The boy found in Fox Chase had apparently been given a home haircut shortly before his death.

They will also interview relatives, neighbors, friends and physicians. They will question the parents about the missing children. And they will check closely into the family's clothing and its traveling habits.


Victim Was About Four


At the time of the discovery of the Fox Chase boy, doctors said he probably was about four years old. Complicating their findings was the part possibly played by disease or malnutrition, of which there was evidence.

At that time, investigators said an itinerant or migratory family could have been involved.

Today Kelly said: "The older (missing) boy could be ours, if we make allowances for malnutrition and underdevelopment,


Younger Age Is Right One


"And the younger boy's age is comparable with our boy's.

"This lead is definitely worth checking. The family's mode of living is significant. It fits into what we've believed was that of the dead boy's family."

Since 1957, the department has circularized most of the U.S., calling attention to the mystery. It was as a result of this campaign that word of the Dudley family was received.

Five newspaper clippings from Southern papers were sent to the department by men whose attention had been called to the local case.

02/25/61 Philadelphia Inquirer

- History -

Body Found Four Years Ago


Just four years ago - it was either on Feb. 23 or 24, 1957 - a youth was checking his muskrat traps in the scrubby brush area near Susquehanna and Verree rds. In Fox Chase, Northeast Philadelphia.

A large cardboard box loomed ahead of him. He had not noticed it before and he was familiar with the territory. He looked inside the box and became so horrified he ran home and said nothing.

On Monday, the 25th of February that year, Fred Benonis, then 26 and a junior at LaSalle College, was driving along Susquehanna rd. when a rabbit crossed his path.

He stopped, got out and started to chase the rabbit. He picked his way among the traps of the other youth and he, too, stumbled over the big cardboard box. Benonis also looked inside, not too carefully.

He thought it contained a large, frayed and discarded doll, a child's toy of a better day. But the thing began to worry him and, on the morning of Feb. 26, he notified police of the image in the box.

In very little time police had on their hands one of the most baffling mysteries in Philadelphia's history.

They had the body of an emaciated little boy believed to be between the ages of 4 and 6. The body weighed only 30 pounds. It was nude except for a wrapper fashioned from a torn piece of cheap blanket.

He was a blue-eyed little boy with a fair complexion. His blond hair had been crudely barbered, cropped short.

The child had been mistreated and ill-cared for and had died from head injuries. Sometime just before or after the death, the body had been placed in water.

All the genius of scientific detective work was mustered to find clues. The source of the cardboard box was found, but added nothing to the investigation.

The boy's identity remained unknown despite a tremendous and continuing effort on the part of Philadelphia's police. Literally thousands of leads, some apparently good, some fantastic, have been run down since Feb. 26, 1957.

Thousands of posters bearing the photograph and description of the boy have been widely circulated. Thousands of pieces of correspondence have been received.

The file in City Hall grew and grew, the envelopes bulged, but the case never was marked "closed".

The same Philadelphia detectives who made this their personal case and vowed to one day identify the boy and bring his killer to justice, provided the child with a decent and tender burial.

They buried him ib July, 1957, in the city cemetery after a poignant service in a North Philadelphia funeral parlor. In October 1957, they put up a polished granite stone, 10 by 20 inches, donated by a monument firm.

It said simply, "Heavenly Father, Bless This Unknown Boy."

03/01/61 Philadelphia Bulletin 

Father Admits Disposing of 4 Dead Children

 But Phila. Police Doubt Boy in Box Was One of Them


Virginia State police announced today that Kenneth E. Dudley, an itinerant carnival worker, has admitted disposing of the bodies of his four missing children.

They said Dudley, 47, and his wife, Irene Adelle, 44, have told conflicting stories as to where the children's bodies were put.

Philadelphia homicide detectives said a story told by the wife would rule out the possibility that one of the missing Dudley children was the unknown boy whose body was found in a box in Fox Chase on February 25, 1957.


New Questioning


However a Virginia State police investigator questioned the couple again today because of the discrepancies discovered in the stories.

Dudley is in the state penitentiary at Richmond, where he was transferred February 19 after a reported suicide attempt in the Lawrenceville, Va., jail. His wife is still in the Lawrenceville jail.

Chief Inspector John J. Kelly and Detective Captain David Brown, head of the homicide squad here, this afternoon ordered two squad members to fly to Richmond tonight to interrogate the couple. They are Detective Lieutenant Nicholas Arcaro and Detective Francis Bergmeister. Lawrenceville is 16 miles from Richmond.

Two other Philadelphia homicide detectives, Sergeant Frank Brennan and Samuel Hammes, already are in the Syracuse, N.Y., area checking out the Dudleys there.


Word From Syracuse


Those detectives phoned Captain Brown late this afternoon and reported that public assistance records in Syracuse show the Dudleys received relief for themselves and seven children in early 1957.

They were investigated February 7, March 4 and March 27 of that year while living in Fayetteville, covered by the Syracuse office, the records showed.

The detectives said the family left the Syracuse area in May of 1957, three months after the body of the boy in the box was discovered.

The Dudleys are being held in Virginia on charges of causing the death of a seven-year-old daughter, Carol Ann, by malnutrition, exposure and neglect.

Her body was found February 9 in woods in southern Virginia wrapped in a tattered blanket.


'Very Doubtful'


State Police Captain R. H. Holland said at Richmond that his investigator on the case, E. M. Lloyd, reported that he is very dubious that the unknown boy found in Philadelphia was one of the Dudley children.

"It's not ruled out completely and entirely," added Holland, "but it appears very doubtful."

He said investigators are not satisfied with the locations the Dudleys gave for the disposal of their children's bodies.

Lieutenant Arcaro said Mrs. Dudley, mother of ten children, told the following story to two married daughters from Syracuse who went to see her in jail at Lawrenceville, Va., February 21.

A son, Claude, born March 28, 1955, died November 17, 1958, in Lakeland, Fla., apparently of starvation. The father threw the body in a phosphate pit.


Wrapped in Blankets


A son, Norman, born February 12, 1949. died somewhere in Louisiana December 23, 1959. Two days later, Christmas Day, another son, Charles, born December 17, 1951, died at the same place.

The father wrapped the two bodies in blankets weighted with stones and threw them off a bridge into a river.

A daughter, Debbie, born July 13, 1956, died May 21, 1960, somewhere in Kentucky after having convulsions. The father drove along a lonely road and threw the body on what his wife thought was a dump; she heard the rattle of tin cans.

Carol Ann, who was born December 13, 1953, died at Fredericksburg, Va., after suffering a broken leg a second time while getting out of the family car on January 15. The father had set her leg himself the first time.


Says 7 Are Dead


Arcaro said Mrs. Dudley told Brunswick County, Va., Sheriff W. E. Hill today that the family traveled south from New York State in the early spring of 1957 in a 1949 Chevrolet.

Mrs. Dudley said they did not go through Philadelphia, but she did not remember the route.

She said seven of her ten children are dead.

Investigators were checking today to see whether the body of a little girl found in a shallow grave in the Arizona desert near Prescott last July 31 might be that of four-year-old Debbie Dudley.

The boy found in Fox Chase was wrapped in pieces of an Indian-style blanket. He was believed to have been between four and six years old.

03/02/61 Philadelphia Bulletin

 Police Doubt Boy in Box Was Son of Carnival Couple


Captain R. H. Holland, of Virginia state police, said yesterday he doesn't think the little boy whose body was found in a box in Fox Chase four years ago was the son of Mr. And Mrs. Kenneth Dudley, carnival couple.

"It's not ruled out completely and entirely,: he said, "but it appears very doubtful."

The Dudleys told state police yesterday about a three-year carnival-hopping journey during which they left the bodies of five of their children in secluded spots between Louisiana and Virginia.


Charged with Murder


Dudley, 47, and his wife, Irene, 44, have been charged with murder of their daughter, Carol Ann, seven, in Hanover County, Va. Her body was found in woods near Lawrenceville, Va., on February 9. Police said she had died on February 1, and that her parents had carried her body in their car for five days before tossing it into the woods.

Investigators said the five Dudley children apparently died of malnutrition or neglect as they rode from carnival to carnival with their parents. So far, only the body of Carol Ann has been recovered.

The Dudleys are known to have had ten children since their marriage in 1934. Of these seven are dead.


2 Married Daughters


Two grown daughters are married and live in Syracuse. Another daughter, Christine, 2 1/2, was with the Dudleys when they were apprehended in North Carolina last month.

Dudley served a jail term in 1947 for the illegal burial of Kenneth, Jr., born in 1941. Dudley said the boy died of a coughing fit. A child born in 1937 died at the age of three months.

But the other five, according to the Dudleys' account of their wanderings, were left along the road.

The Dudleys left Syracuse in a dilapidated sedan in July, 1948. Six children accompanied them.


Worked on Rides


Their travels took them through small towns and county fairs of the South. Dudley's usual job was carnival engineer - one who helped erect and operate rides.

They were in Florida in 1959. They bought a panel truck and house trailer to accommodate their large family. There were still five children left.

The Dudleys said Claude Arthur, three, died near Baldwin, Fla., November 17, 1958. Two days later, they dumped the boy's body at an old phosphorous mine near Lakeland, Fla.

Later in 1959, the Dudleys disposed of their house trailer. There were only three children left.


2 Boys Die


At the time they were wintering in Phoenix, Ariz. Norman, ten, died on December 23. His younger brother, Charles Augustus, eight, died on Christmas Day.

According to the Dudley story, they headed east with the bodies of the boys still in the truck. About January 1, Mrs. Dudley said, the family passed through New Orleans.

The Dudleys weighted the bodies of the boys, wrapped them in tattered blankets and dropped them into the waters of Lake Ponchartrain, north of the city.

Deborah Jane, three, died in Gary, W. Va., on May 21, 1960. About May 27, the Dudleys left her body in the woods by a highway somewhere in Kentucky.

The Dudleys' two grown daughters, Mrs. Marjorie Cooper, 21, and Mrs. Jean Cooper, 23, who are married to brothers, have visited their mother in the Lawrenceville jail. The father is in the state penitentiary in Richmond. He tried suicide on February 19.

03/14/61 Philadelphia Bulletin

 'Boy in the Box' Probers Give Up on Carnival Couple


Of The Bulletin Staff


Philadelphia police brass admitted today that their latest promising clue to the identity of "the boy in the box" apparently has fizzled out.

Captain David Brown, commanding officer of the homicide squad, said "it is very unlikely" that the boy's body was that of any of the children of a migrant carnival couple now being held in Virginia jails.

The couple, Kenneth and Irene Adelle Dudley, have admitted disposing of the bodies of four of their children who died over a period of years. But Philadelphia police who investigated them in Virginia and Syracuse, N.Y., now see virtually no chance that the Fox Chase boy could have been theirs.

The unidentified boy was discovered in Fox Chase February 25, 1957.


Suicide Note


The hardest blow to police hopes that the mystery was about to be solved came when Dudley, 47, tried to kill himself in the Lawrenceville, Va., jail. He wrote a suicide note in which he confessed to disposing of the bodies of four of his children.

"Why," one investigator asked, "would a man thinking he was about to die admit to four crimes but not mention a fifth that was identical in scope?"

Lieutenant Nicholas Arcaro and Detective Francis Bergmeister talked to Dudley in the Richmond prison to which he was recently transferred and to his wife, 44, in the Lawrenceville jail.

The Dudleys' stories checked out, one against the other, the detectives told Brown. They also were supported by questioning of two married daughters in the Syracuse area by Sergeant Frank Brennan and Detective Samuel Hammas, who conducted Philadelphia's investigation there.


Denied Going Through Here


Dudley denied passing through Philadelphia on his way from Syracuse to Baltimore in 1957.

Asked if he used the Turnpike, he replied, "We didn't use any road where we'd have to pay tolls."

One point still remained unresolved.

The boy found in Fox Chase was believed to have been between four and six years old.

Investigation in Syracuse failed to place one of the now-dead sons, Charles Augustus Dudley, who was born December 17, 1951, with the family in February of 1957 when the Fox Chase boy was found.


Can't Prove Boy Was Alive


Because he was of preschool age, no school records could verify his presence there.

At the time, the family received relief for the parents and seven children. They were investigated February 7, March 4 and March 27 that year, but the investigator did not actually see the boy.

"It simply cannot be documented that Charles was alive and well at that time," one investigator said.

According to the Dudley confession, Charles died on Christmas Day, 1959, in Louisiana. His body and that of his brother, Norman, ten, who died two days earlier, were wrapped in blankets, weighted with stones and thrown off a bridge into a river, the parents said.

The Dudleys are being held in Virginia on charges of causing the death of a seven-year-old daughter, Carol Ann, by malnutrition, exposure and neglect. Her body, wrapped in a blanket, was found in a wooded area in southern Virginia February 9.

09/26/61 Philadelphia Bulletin

Father Admits Starving Six

 Was Questioned on Boy-in-Box Murder


Kenneth E. Dudley, an itinerant carnival worker now being held in Virginia, has confessed starving six of his children to death, it was announced today by Onondaga County District Attorney Joseph A. Ryan in Syracuse, N.Y.

Dudley and his wife, Irene, were questioned earlier this year by Philadelphia police about the four-year-old mystery of the murdered "boy in the box."

At that time, however, the local authorities were convinced that the slain boy was not one of the Dudley children. His body was found in a box off Susquehanna road west of Verree road, Fox Chase, on February 25, 1957.


Couple in Virginia Jail


Dudley and his wife are being held in prison at Richmond, Va., on a charge of murdering one of their daughters, Carol Ann, seven, whose wasted body was found abandoned in a wooded section in Virginia last February.

Ryan's interest in the Dudleys stemmed from the murder of two women in Onondaga County some time ago. The district attorney said he became convinced that the Dudleys knew something about the two murders.


Sent Detective


He sent Detective Robert Rusch to Richmond to question the couple. The Dudleys denied any knowledge about the two murders, Ryan said, but volunteered the information that they had killed another woman, Mrs. Jean Valla, in 1951.

The couple, according to Ryan, related that they buried the body of Mrs. Valla in a dump, which has since become a highway.

Ryan's problem is to produce Mrs. Valla's body by digging up the highway.