Philadelphia police reveal identity of young boy in 65-year-old murder cold case

The body of Joseph Augustus Zarelli was found on city's outskirts decades ago.

Updated: December 8, 2022 - 1:47pm

Philadelphia police on Thursday revealed the identity of a young murder victim in what remains one of the city's longest-unsolved homicides. 

The "Boy in the Box" was revealed to be Joseph Augustus Zarelli, whose identity has languished in uncertainty since his body was discovered in a neighborhood northeast of downtown Philadelphia in February of 1957. 

“For sixty-five years, the story of America’s Unknown Child has haunted this community, the Philadelphia Police Department, our nation, and the world,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said during a news conference on Thursday.

“Despite the fact that Joseph Augustus Zarelli’s entire identity and rightful claim to his own existence was taken away, he has never been forgotten," she noted.

Philadelphia Police Capt. Jason Smith indicated during the press conference that the police are still actively working to identify the murderer and that they may even have leads as to the killer's identity. 

“We have our suspicions as to who may be responsible, but it would be irresponsible of me to share these suspicions as this remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation,” he said.