SAMPLE E-MAIL MESSAGES
Topic: The Ohio Lead
Note: Since this is an ongoing, highly-confidential aspect of the investigation, no responses or comments by members of the investigative team will be posted here. Rest assured that all of the issues and questions raised in these messages have been thoroughly explored by the investigators. For reasons of confidentiality, the Ohio informant is referred to as "M", rather than her actual name.
I can now say that I too have become consumed in this mystery. I currently have a 4 year old son that is "small" for his age and is 40 inches in height and 34 lbs., short blonde/light brown hair with beautiful blue eyes. This case has touched my heart.
I would like more info from "M". I know that she is mentally unstable, but if she lived the same obviously abusive life as this young boy, then no wonder! Her story with that of the man that came forward are too similar. Was she with her mother when she picked the child up from his parents? If so, can she remember where they went? Hours away? Minutes away? Street names, etc. I don't think that it was uncommon to just leave children, give them away, or sell them, back then so this story may ring true.
What about mom? I assume that she is deceased, but did she leave behind any incriminating paperwork, notes, anything that the family may have taken from the estate and deemed useless and filed away somewhere? I saw where neighbors had been interviewed and no-one could remember the child from the neighborhood, DUH!!! "M" stated that the child was kept in the basement, not allowed outside (pale skin) and no-one knew of his existence (impossible to find leads). Maybe if "M" would under go hypnotism?? Keep working on the family in the house to investigate the basement. Could we pay them, maybe offer some type of compensation for their troubles. I am sure money would pile in, if needed.
I just do not think that "M" has any reason to come forward and make up such a tragic story. It said her mother was a Librarian, any paperwork left from her old work place, books she may have ordered that were out of the norm, or checked out, took home, etc. "M's" dad? Did he leave mom? I have a degree in social work and have worked with troubled people as a counselor for some time. "M" seems to me to be truthful, especially considering it took her so long to come forward. I am almost certain that she waited until her mother was deceased, due to fear.
I look at this child and the resemblance to my son is uncanny! The little hands and all! Oh! Any chance "M's" mom was left handed? If the child's right hand and both feet had been submerged in water, then it seems to me that someone was holding on to his left hand to keep him up out of the tub as they washed him. If they were right handed it would be awkward to wash him with their left hand, but if they were left handed, then it makes sense that they would hold his left hand out of the water in their right hand so that they could have full use of their "good" hand which would be the left one to wash him.
Was there any way "M" could know about the one man's testimony that he saw a woman and 12 year old boy with the open trunk?
Was "M" questioned as to whether her mother was heavy set and had a checked winter coat? Was she asked if she had her hair short and could have appeared as a male at that time?
Finally, was the washerwoman skin on the feet and one hand made public prior to her coming out with her story? If not, it would seem very coincidental that she mentioned the boy vomited in a bathtub. Perhaps he was made to stay in the tub for a long period of time.
I think it would be a good idea to find out if "M" has any living relatives, such as cousins, who might have visited her home during the time that the boy was imprisoned in the basement. Although "M's" parents tried to keep the boy concealed from outsiders, a visitor may have heard unusual noises or even spotted the boy inadvertently. Also, I find it hard to believe that "M" didn't mention anything about her gruesome experience to anyone except her psychiatrist for all those years. Try to locate and interview former classmates, fellow employees, and others who were close/intimate associates of hers. She may have let some crucial, revealing fact slip out unintentionally.
I was watching America's Most Wanted last night and saw the story of your "boy in the box" for the first time. A couple of ideas hit me, which may seem impractical at first but which may hold out the best hope for results at this late date. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you have a first name to go with this young man. Assuming that Jonathan is the correct name, I had the following idea for research:
1) Since the boy was wrapped in a blanket, this obviously suggests that someone close to him (or who had feelings for him) was responsible, as in his parents, who are the obvious choice to have been able to starve him over a period of time. These parents apparently had another child after Jonathan was born, as evidenced by their need to purchase the bassinet (for which Jonathan would presumably have been too old and too big). Maybe the burden of caring for an apparently sickly child became too much for them and they decided to remove Jonathan from their lives. Starvation and the absence of vaccinations seems to imply a lack of care for the child, even though they loved him enough to place him in a blanket after he died. The bassinet box that they used as a "coffin" may also be symbolic to them.
Assuming that the J.C. Penney that they used was close to their Lower Merion home in 1957, is there a way to cross-reference parents who gave birth to a child named Jonathan in the range of 1951-53, and who also had another child within 4-6 years--and who lived within several miles of the J.C. Penney store? Depending on how well computerized the records are, maybe a search could be done for a much wider area (i.e., including Philadelphia proper) for these parents (since the corduroy cap was purchased in Philadelphia proper). Having a first name to work with would seem to make this a project that could be completed with computerized birth records.
2) My other idea is that in theory all boys born in that time period would eventually apply for a Social Security number. Is it possible to cross reference all children named Jonathan from a certain geographic area against all those who applied for Social Security numbers some 17-18 years later and see which names might be missing from the Social Security records? This might yield some results, too, at least in theory, even if it seems cumbersome to perform. This search, when combined with the names of the parents with two children, one of which was named Jonathan, might provide you with the name that you're looking for: Jonathan entered the public birth records system when he was born, has no death record under his name, and almost certainly never obtained a Social Security number. He simply dropped out of sight in 1957 between birth and working age.
After 46 years, and given the fact that massive publicity has yielded no closure to date, such government data-dependent research may be the only way to get to the bottom of this crime. I do not know if the Social Security Administration would agree to release such records to the Philadelphia police but you are not looking for the Social Security numbers per se, just the names of people who applied for them in a certain geographic area--and who are named Jonathan--for cross-reference.
After reading investigators' responses to "M's" revelation, I get the feeling of skepticism and disbelief. This is one of the very reasons that most molested children never disclose their plight. I feel it is extremely important that investigators treat "M" in a manner that allows her to retain her dignity and a sense of self-worth that she has undoubtedly worked many years to build. If "M" feels that her account is not believed, she may close the door to investigators altogether.
"M's" inability to exactly pinpoint the house where the alleged purchase of this child took place doesn't surprise me in the least, given her age at the time (11 years), the passage of time, and the probability that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which interferes with memory. With the forensic technology available today, there must be other ways to verify her presence at the scene.
About the Ohio woman, I have some questions on that. A couple of things do not add up. However, the details may have a different turn of events. Back in 1950 through the early 1960ís, mental illness was seen by the majority of society to be an institutional solution. Children born with defects were still not a topic of conversation, and those chronically ill, since the early 1900's were deemed hopeless cases. However, children with these disabilities usually ended up in orphanages. As for Pennsylvania institutions, Byberry opened its doors in the early 1900's after the original orphanage burnt down in the late 1800's. It expanded to I believe 50 buildings by the 1950's. Torrance State Hospital opened its doors with 5 patients in November 1919 and expanded to 3300 patients by the 1950's and 1960's.
Now, I understand that these may not have been the views of all people, rich or poor, however I have a hard time understanding why a woman from a "well-to-do" suburb (Lower Merion, PA) in the 1950's would want to "PURCHASE" a mentally handicapped child only to abuse him and keep him in a refrigerator (box) in a basement. The Ohio woman may have been too young to realize the handicapped child may have been her biological sibling. If this was the case, then the mother could have told the story that this child was bought in order to close her own feelings of inadequacy especially in a well to do society or even a society that did not accept or understand mental illness. Either way, if in fact this is the boy in the box or another child, this child grew up in an atmosphere of extreme hate and the mother insured that society would never see this (monster) mentally handicapped child. Furthermore, this mother insured that this child was to have no form of decency if she had him sleeping in an old refrigerator (box), so old clothes, old blankets, if any, would most likely be the only things this child had.
As for the bath, this could explain the washerwoman effect. I would expect that to be on both hands as well as both feet. Some of the photos that are available from the medical examiner are inconclusive by general view on the web site and without the autopsy report and x-rays it's hard to tell what type of trauma caused his actual death other then what is stated. On the other hand, from what is shown on the Web site, it is my guesstimate this child did not die from a fatal throw to the bathroom floor.
I watched the 48 hrs. program this evening and have been reading some of the additional information here at this website. I have a few questions that I did not see addressed and thought I would pass them on for your consideration.
Where did "M" and her mother go to get the boy when he was bought? Does "M" know what the surroundings were like where the transaction transpired (neighborhood, section of the city, building or object that may stand out in her memory, etc.)? Did "M's" mother give the money to a man or to a woman, by cash or check? Were the banking records for those involved considered and any large deposits explained?
Has the research on the house that "M" lived in while Jonathan was with them been studied further? How often did the coal man come? Is that company still operating? Were the telephone records from "M"'s house during those years any help? Was "M's" father present during the time Jonathan was with her family?
Did "M" have any verbal exchanges with Jonathan? Sometimes young children ask the same questions repeatedly, especially when they have moved. Did they repeat anything they may have heard or been told as an excuse? Does "M" remember if Jonathan had any operations while he was with them? How long was Jonathan with "M's" family? Was Jonathan the only name the boy had and no last name at all when he went home to "M's" house? Was the grammar school where "M" attended investigated? Did anyone at her school know she had an adopted brother?