Topic: The Good Shepherd School

E-mail Messages and Responses:

Was the school for wayward girls across the road from the discovery site investigated? I have not seen any info as to whether the police questioned anyone at the school. Do you have any info regarding this? Were its residents at the time completely questioned? It seems very possible that the child could have come from there, especially if he had been passed off as a girl. He could have been the child of one of the girls sent there or have secretly belonged to one of the staff. He might have belonged to one of the nuns! This would not be the first time a nun had a child and tried to hide or cover up the fact. They have also been known to get carried away with physical discipline.

Due to its proximity to the discovery site, the Good Shepherd School was thoroughly investigated early in the case. There was no one who was not questioned thoroughly regarding this case at its outset. The facility was searched, and the staff and residents of the Good Shepherd School were interviewed by Philadelphia homicide detectives. No evidence was ever found to implicate them in having anything to do with the crime or knowing anything about it.


I have just read the info on the Boy in the Box case and would like to know if the school for "wayward girls" was just a school. Did the girls stay there for long periods of time? I am asking because I have read about people sending their daughters away to these types of places when they became pregnant, and that these girls had their babies at these schools or havens and then the babies were given up for adoption or sent somewhere. If this was the case then that would explain why no one remembers the little boy, and if these wayward girls did give birth to their babies there then it might explain the bassinet box. Could a bassinet have been bought anonymously and donated to the home?

The Good Shepherd School was just that, a school. It housed "troubled young women" (e.g., chronic delinquents, emotionally disturbed, victims of abuse) - not pregnant girls. It was not a place where teenage mothers-to-be were sent to stay while awaiting the birth of their babies. Teen pregnancies were handled by a different facility in another part of the city.


I find that the Home for Unwed Mothers is a link in solving this crime. Who ran this home, and how long had it been established?

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd is an international Catholic congregation that has ministries directed towards helping the homeless, women in transition, single mothers, victims of domestic abuse, disadvantaged children, orphans, and youth in crisis. It has over 5,500 members, and operates schools, orphanages and shelters in 68 countries around the world. The order was founded in Angers, France in 1835 by St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier as a response to the distress of women exploited by the horrible social conditions that existed in Europe at that time. They established houses of refuge where women could regain their self-esteem as well as the education and skills they needed to live independent lives. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd came to North America in 1843 to care for young girls and women who were threatened by the poverty and turmoil which resulted from rapid immigration and the industrial revolution. The school that they founded in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia was intended to educate troubled ("wayward") girls and teach them how to lead normal, productive lives. It was not a home for unwed mothers or a correctional facility. You can learn more about the Sisters of the Good Shepherd by visiting their web site at


The home for wayward girls was probably poor and they might have cut blankets in half to get the most use out of what they had. I'm sure most of the residents slept on single beds or cots there.

The Good Shepherd School was adequately funded. The staff did not have to cut blankets in half to make ends meet.


The abuse seems to be at the hand of a very strong person. This could have been the stepfather, a male head of an orphanage, or even a tyrannical priest at the nearby home for "wayward" girls. Were there any priests at that home? Not much is mentioned about that place, but it would have been easy enough to keep the child hidden there, and carry the body to the discovery site. What kind of reputation did the home have as far as the quality of care of its residents? Were there ever any reports of sexual abuse or suicide attempts at the home?

When I read the synopsis of the case, I felt that the Good Shepherd Sisters should be looked at more closely. Here in Ireland they ran several centers for wayward girls at that time. These places were called 'Magdalene Laundries' and have in recent times been the subject of controversy and shame for the nuns. If you found a record of a nun or nuns transferred from Ireland to the Philadelphia convent at that time, then you might want to check into archives from their Irish records and look for possible links to criminal behavior which might suggest a pattern. The 'Magdalene Laundries' are synonymous with abuse of children in Ireland at that time.

We are unaware of any reports of child abuse, sexual abuse, or suicide attempts at the Good Shepherd School.


I believe that the real mother tried to leave her boy with the Good Shepherd Sisters but they brushed her off, saying, "this isn't an orphanage." Then the mother's boyfriend murdered the boy. I'll bet that it's documented somewhere in the bowels of the then school for wayward girls. The mother may have lived there during her pregnancy. I walk my dogs up that stone trail alot. But I don't see the trees or hear the birds. It all feels unnatural. By the way, narcotics police should find several pretty sophisticated marijuana plantations if they've got two good eyes.

Thank you for your input. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support the theories that you've put forward. Due to its close proximity to the discovery site, the Good Shepherd School was thoroughly investigated by Philadelphia homicide detectives. The detectives established that there was no link whatsoever between that facility and the unknown boy.


This is the first I have ever heard or read about this case. It completely intrigues me and I have spent several hours reading about it. I did not notice any investigation into the possibility that someone from the Girls' home may have been involved. Sure, they may be nuns, but look, I am a Christian and have made many mistakes in my life. Just because someone wears a costume, it does not necessarily make them the character. Maybe one of the nuns got pregnant; Priest confidentiality; no one talks; maybe one of the students....just some thoughts....


I am an employee at CORA services here in northeast Philadelphia. This past Sunday I saw the program Cold Case and the episode entitled �The Boy in the Box�. In watching the program, I was struck with the fictional similarities to CORA, and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd School. (I am not originally from Philadelphia and was not alive when the actual incident took place). Upon coming to work yesterday and telling my colleagues about the show, I was told by many that grew up in the area that the story was true, and that the boy was found here. I found your web site, and looking at the pictures see that the boy was indeed found here on our property at CORA. While I sadly cannot add anything to the investigation, I thought you would like to know that the property is now being developed, and that the Sisters have sold the parcel in the pictures to the Holy Redeemer Health System. Currently, only the part of the property fronting Verree Road is being developed (by us here at CORA), but the back is slated for construction by this summer. The image of this little boy haunts me, being a parent myself. I hope you someday are able to solve this case.