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PA THE BOY IN THE BOX: WM, 4-6, found in Philadelphia PA - Feb 1957 - America's Unknown Child

Discussion in 'Unidentified 1900 to 1979' started by SMC, May 17, 2015.

  1. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Historic marker placed for boy found in box 6 decades ago in Philadelphia

    Sunday, November 12, 2017
    FOX CHASE (WPVI) -- It is one of the highest-profile unsolved-mysteries in Philadelphia history.

    The body of a little boy was found in a box on the side of Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase in 1957. His remains have never been identified.

    But the case is gaining renewed interest courtesy of a local boy scout.

    A historic marker about the 'Boy in the Box' was created thanks to Eagle Scout Nicholas Kerschbaum of Troop 522 in Wilmington

    "Four to six-years-old, his life was taken and it shouldn't happen like that," Kerschbaum said.

    Kerschbaum needed an Eagle Scout service project.

    He could have picked anything, but became familiar with the case of what's now known as "America's Unknown Child" through his father, a former Philadelphia police officer.

    "He tossed me the idea and I looked into it, reading about the boy himself," Kershbaum said.

    It was back in 1957, two Philadelphia officers responded to a call of a body in a box.

    The case was never solved.

    Kerschbaum hopes the marker will somehow bring new leads in the 60-year-old case.

    "In the small, small possibility someone could be walking by and maybe in the back of their mind go 'I remember something,'" he said.

    Funds for the marker were made by the Vidocq Society. They are a group of forensic experts who try to piece together cold cases, just like this one.

    Bill Fleisher, the founder of the Vidocq Society, thinks this case could make major progress in the near future through DNA.

    "We've been comparing against many suspected relatives," Fleisher said.

    He vows his group will never stop working on trying to find out who could commit such a disturbing crime.

    "In my view, he wasn't beaten to death. I think he was abused and neglected to the point his little flame went out," Fleisher said.

    This case is still open 60 years later. As it stands right now, it is the longest active investigation with the Philadelphia police.
  2. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Philadelphia Inquirer
    November 12, 2017


  3. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    The large addition on the back of the house was built after the family lived there.

    She carried him down to the basement, with me right behind her. We had this side door in the basement that opened onto the driveway. Nobody could see from the street, and there was a hedge that blocked the neighbors' view. The car was right there.

    David Stout. The Boy in the Box: The Unsolved Case of America's Unknown Child. Kindle Edition.



    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018
  4. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    The Philadelphia Inquirer
    February 26, 1957

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  5. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Tom Waring
    Nov 21, 2017

    Marking his memory
    Sixty years after America’s Unknown Child was discovered in a box on Susquehanna Road, a Boy Scout is making sure he won’t be forgotten.


    A sign of remembrance: Nicholas Kerschbaum, a Troop 522 Boy Scout, spearheaded the effort to erect a historical marker for “America’s Unknown Child.” On Feb. 26, 1957, a boy’s body was dumped in a box on Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase. The case was never solved. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTOS

    Sixty years after a boy’s body was dumped unceremoniously in a JC Penney box on Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase, a Boy Scout from Delaware has made sure he’ll never be forgotten.

    Nicholas Kerschbaum, a Troop 522 Boy Scout, chose a boy who has become known as America’s Unknown Child for a memorial marker.

    The ceremony took place on Nov. 11 on the 700 block of Susquehanna Road, a little west of Verree Road.

    “America’s Unknown Child will forever be memorialized with this marker,” Kerschbaum said.

    Kerschbaum chose America’s Unknown Child (formerly known as the Boy in the Box) for his Eagle Scout Project.

    The 17-year-old senior at Salesianum School had petitioned the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, seeking the erection of a historical marker on Susquehanna Road, near the location where the boy’s remains were found.

    However, the commission rejected the application.

    To make matters worse, the commission approved a marker commemorating the city’s confrontation with MOVE in 1985, when Mayor Wilson Goode approved the dropping of a bomb on the roof of the radical group’s Osage Avenue home, resulting in a fire and 11 deaths, including five kids.

    “I was disillusioned,” said Kerschbaum, son of a retired Philadelphia police officer.

    But he wouldn’t give up on his quest.


    “I decided to have a private marker made,” he said.

    Back in February, Kerschbaum organized a memorial service marking the 60th anniversary of the death of America’s Unknown Child.

    Supporting him then and throughout the process of erecting the marker has been the Vidocq Society, a private organization of law enforcement and forensic professionals who try to crack tough cases.

    On Feb. 26, 1957, Philadelphia Police Officer Elmer Palmer was dispatched to then-rural Susquehanna Road, where he discovered the body of a boy believed to be about 4 years old. The boy was in a cardboard box that once contained a bassinet bought at the JCPenney at 69th and Chestnut streets in Upper Darby.

    No one has ever come forward to identify the boy, and the police investigation into his murder has never been solved.

    Olney’s Mann Funeral Home buried America’s Unknown Child in Potter’s Field along Dunks Ferry Road and assisted in his move to West Oak Lane’s Ivy Hill Cemetery. The reburial took place on Nov. 11, 1998.

    Many years after the boy was found, the story was chronicled on America’s Most Wanted and dramatized on Cold Case.

    Bill Fleisher, a retired FBI and U.S. Customs agent and commissioner of the Vidocq Society, praised Kerschbaum’s efforts.

    “He worked hard to get this done, let me tell you that,” he said.

    St. Christopher Parish-based Boy Scout Troop 367 led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    David Teesdale, the senior patrol leader, said Troop 367 will conduct a memorial service each February at the marker location.

    Chaplains from the 7th Police District, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Vidocq Society offered prayers.

    James Palmer, son of Elmer Palmer, said his dad always held out hope the boy would be identified. He credited Kerschbaum with tenacity and dedication in his effort to place the marker.

    To raise money for the marker, Kerschbaum held a car wash and a bake sale, and continued to work with the Vidocq Society.


    “The Vidocq Society has been there the whole time,” he said.

    As the marker is on property owned by Holy Redeemer Health System, Kerschbaum had to gain permission before the pole could be placed in the ground.

    Kerschbaum is satisfied that the marker is in place and is looking forward to official approval of his Eagle Scout project.

    “I’m happy and relieved,” he said.
  6. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    The Historical Marker is actually directly across Susquehanna Road from the location in the woods where The Boy in the Box was found.




  7. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Jim Hoffman has released Edition #3 of his book, The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime.

    Mar 3, 2018 | Kindle eBook
    by Jim Hoffmann

    This edition of Jim's book has a lot more information that he has learned since his last edition. It also contains information that has never been released. Jim's book was the first book written about the boy. It was based on the investigation files from the Philadelphia detectives who worked on the case. It's available from Amazon for Kindle.


    This is the THIRD EDITION! It includes the author's tantalizing backstory to his research; the haunting of his home from the evidence boxes; the latest, up-to-date investigation of the most prolific lead since "M" - the Memphis Man - a resultant five years spent "down the rabbit hole" to another dead end, including a joint investigation with New Jersey author Louis Romano and Philadelphia's "Rutt Rutledge"; new evidence about "M" and much, much more. This work includes the original comprehensive book about one of America's greatest crimes: the Boy in the Box case. Using archived news stories, interviews with leading investigators and witnesses, and an analysis of the official Philadelphia Police Department's evidence box, "The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (Revised Edition)" set the standard for other researchers to follow. It is a succinct outline of the facts, the events, and the players to one of the true crime genre's most prolific stories. Included in the work are photos, charts, and a painstakingly created timeline of key events in the case. Also included in this unique work is a second book, "Susquehanna Road," a Power Prose fictionalized edition of the story (and a completely new literary genre) dedicated to the little, unknown boy and the battle-hardened investigators who fought valiantly for him.

    About the Author
    Jim Hoffmann hails from Glendale Heights, Illinois, west of Chicago. He has recently written biographies about famous rock stars including his childhood friend, Jim Ellison (Material Issue) and his current friends, Pat Vegas and Pete De Poe (Redbone). Hoffmann lives with his family in Apple Valley, California - the High Desert of So Cal.
  8. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    “M”’ s mother was from Swarthmore, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She had an AB from Juniata College and an MA from Drexel. As indicated, she worked as a librarian for Lower Merion High School, but also for Haverford College where she was in charge of the Quaker documents. “M”’ s mom was later hired by Montgomery County as their Library Director.

    Hoffmann, Jim. The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime (p. 194). Susquehanna Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  9. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    However, Source R pointed out to me that when you consider the timeline, it’s basically impossible. Hurricane Hazel, which struck Philly in October of 1954, is when “M” claims her mother bought the boy at the row home.

    Hoffmann, Jim. The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime (p. 193). Susquehanna Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.


    Hurricane Hazel — A category four hurricane that smashed North Carolina in October, 1954, and then brought hurricane force winds as far inland as Canada. Passing 95 miles to the East of Charleston, South Carolina, Hazel made landfall very near the North Carolina and South Carolina border, and brought a record 18 foot storm surge at Calabash, North Carolina. Wind gusts of 150 mph were felt in Holden Beach, Calabash, and Little River Inlet 100 mph gusts were felt farther inland at Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Hazel carved a path of destruction that left over 600 dead, and damages exceeded $350 million 1953 U.S. dollars.


    Those who lived through this storm may best remember it for the dark clouds and the darkness that evening of Oct. 15, and wind gusts from 75 to 100 miles per hour. Documented reports clocked winds at Philadelphia International Airport at 94 miles per hour.

    Main Line Today
    A home in West Chester, after Hurricane Hazel hit with 65-miles-per



    OCF Realty
    With Hurricane Irene on her way, let's take a look at the worst hurricane to hit Philadelphia in modern history. Hurricane Hazel

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  10. FlandersFields

    FlandersFields Well-Known Member

    She has a cold demeanor to her look, and has a sly smile. She gave me the creeps when I first looked at her.
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  11. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    She has evil in her eyes. We only know information the PPD has shared from their interviews with Martha. It is my understanding that Martha was extremely forthcoming with her information, but she was thwarted and disparaged by a few individuals who attempted to portray her as mentally unstable. I do believe this case is more a problem of legal jurisdiction than anything else. The DA who originally refused to deal with Bill Cosby is the same DA who would not move the boy's murder case to Montgomery County. Once Martha came forward with her information, the murder scene changed from Philadelphia to Lower Merion Twp., Montgomery County.

    We know the librarian abused her own daughter, encouraged her husband to abuse their daughter, purchased a severely disabled toddler as a sex toy, housed the child in an old coal bin, and eventually murdered the little boy. These actions are heinous. I just can't accept that these evil crimes are the limit of this woman's vile activities. My ongoing concern is with actions the librarian and her friends may have done to other children after they retired to Fort Myers, Florida and after Jonathan was beaten to death. These possible victims may still be very much alive.
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  12. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    I have no words.
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  13. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Source R had much more specific detail about “M”’ s family, family member data, etc., but I decided to only include a “sanitized version” in this chapter. The bottom line is that the only real evidence we have to support the notion that “M” might be related to the Boy in the Box through her paternal uncle, her father’s brother, are “M”’ s own words, and the circumstantial evidence compiled by Source R. BUT... I believe every noun, pronoun, verb, and adverb “M” has stated publicly . . . and any other grammatical elements you can think of. Her account is unequivocal in my humble opinion.

    Hoffmann, Jim. The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime (pp. 194-195). Susquehanna Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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  14. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    “M”’ s Father was the son of Welsh immigrants. He had four siblings and lived near Scranton. “M”’ s father had a BS from Penn State and an MA from the University of Pennsylvania. He didn’t marry “M”’ s mother until he was in his 40s - around World War II. At Lower Merion High School, he was a Science teacher and coach, she a librarian.

    Hoffmann, Jim. The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime (p. 194). Susquehanna Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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  15. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    The top photograph is the bust of what the unknown boy's father may have looked like, by forensic sculptor Frank Bender, V.S.M. The second photograph is the science teacher from a high school yearbook.




    He did not go to college and in fact initially worked as a clerk. After marrying, he eventually moved to the Mayfair section of Philadelphia. When the wife of “M”’ s maternal uncle died sometime after the uncle, Source R found an Obit which did not mention “M” as a surviving family member. Again, this made Source R “wonder if she [uncle’s widow] was angry because “M” released information about the family.”

    Hoffmann, Jim. The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime (p. 194). Susquehanna Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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  16. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    I don’t intend here to rehash “M”’ s account of what really happened to the Boy in the Box, the reader has it above in Chapter V, but this little tidbit, this little addition or wrinkle to the account has grabbed me. You see, “M” has publicly stated in interviews that she thinks it is possible she is related to the BITB. Let me type that again: “M” has stated in interviews that she thinks it is possible she is related to the BITB.

    Hoffmann, Jim. The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child (3rd Edition): My Obsession with America's Greatest Crime (p. 186). Susquehanna Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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  17. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member



    There was no callous development on the soles of Jonathan's feet. It's fairly obvious that he didn't walk. He lived in an old coal bin on top of a refrigerator box, with a thin blanket.
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