‘Boy in the box’ murder: New headstone at Philadelphia cemetery honors victim of sordid case

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PHILADELPHIA — The community came together Friday to remember the victim of one of Philadelphia’s most high-profile unsolved murders.

On January 13, 2023, Joseph Augustus Zarelli would have been 70 years old.

But last monthauthorities confirmed that Zarrelli was the young victim known for decades as “The Boy in the Box.”

The boy’s naked body with severe bruises was found on February 25, 1957 in the woods of the Fox Chase area of ​​Philadelphia.

The boy, who was 4 years old, was wrapped in a blanket and placed in a large JCPenney bassinet. Police say he was malnourished. He was beaten to death.

His identity remained unknown until December 8, 2022, when officials held a press conference confirming that he was Zarely.

Joseph Augusta Zarelli

Philadelphia Police Department

RELATED: Genealogist Who Helped Identify ‘Boy in Box’ Visits Grave, Seeks Justice for Child

“This announcement closes only one chapter in this little boy’s story and opens a new one,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in December. “This is still an active homicide investigation and we still need the public’s help in filling in this child’s life story.”

A ceremony at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia’s Cedarbrook neighborhood was held to dedicate a new headstone at the boy’s final resting place.

A ceremony at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia’s Cedarbrook neighborhood was held to dedicate a new headstone at the boy’s final resting place.

Zarelli was born on January 13, 1953 and is considered a native of West Philadelphia.

Police said both of Zarelli’s parents are dead, but he has living relatives.

“Joseph has several siblings on both his mother’s and father’s side who are alive, and out of respect for them, the parents’ information remains confidential,” Philadelphia captain Jason Smith said in December.

The case remains one of Philadelphia’s oldest unsolved murders. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect in this case.

Smith said police do not know who is responsible for the child’s death.

“We have suspicions as to who may be responsible, but it would be irresponsible of me to share those suspicions as the criminal investigation is still ongoing,” Smith said.

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‘Boy in the box’ murder: New headstone at Philadelphia cemetery honors victim of sordid case

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