Philadelphia’s “boy in the box” has been identified 65 years after his body was found battered and wrapped in a blanket as 4-year-old Joseph Augustus Zarelli.
Police provided the decades-old cold case update during a presser Thursday. The boy’s parents will not be identified out of respect for his living siblings, according to Philadelphia police Capt. Jason Smith.
At this point investigators only have “suspicions” about who is responsible for murdering Zarelli, which they will also not talk about due to the homicide being an active investigation.
Joseph was found severely beaten and wrapped in a blanket in a box on Feb. 25, 1957 in a wooded area in Fox Chase neighborhood. He “experienced horrors that no one, no one should ever be subjected to,” police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
No one ever came forward to claim the child.
Blunt force trauma is believed to be the cause of death. Police say they may never make an arrest or identification for who is responsible, but they are going to try.
Zarelli’s parents are both dead, according to authorities.
Countless professionals in law, medical and other fields worked the case over six decades. Zarelli’s birth certificate was located after his birth mother was identified. His biological father was listed on the certificate, and relatives from the boy’s paternal side were contacted.
Investigators say a social security number was never issued for Zarelli, who was born Jan. 13, 1953.
Authorities are hoping the technology used to identify Zarelli will assist them in solving other crimes.