Unsolved: The Boy in the Box

Headstone for the Boy in the Box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It has been 62 years since anxious college student Frederick Benosis made the call to Philadelphia police to report that he had found the body of a young boy in the woods.

The boy’s body was found wrapped in a blanket and placed inside a cardboard box that once contained a bassinet from J.C. Penny. He was naked, battered, and his hair had been freshly cut and strands of hair still clung to his body.

The Investigation

Once the body of the boy was found, police thought that his parents would come forward to claim him as their son, or that he would match a missing persons case. Neither of those events occurred and the boy remains a John Doe to this day.

The boy’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, though nobody can answer how it happened or who may have done this to him.

Poster to attempt to identify The Boy in the Box

Since nobody was able to identify the boy, police began investigating the J.C. Penny bassinet box that contained a serial number and discovered that it was one of 12 that had been purchased from the J.C. Penny in nearby Upper Darby.

All of the bassinets had been purchased with cash, and there was no record of any of the buyers. However, eight of the 12 purchasers contacted the police to go on record that they either still had their boxes or had put them out from trash collection.

Investigators followed several leads, but all came to dead ends. Thus, the case remains unsolved.

Theories

Frederick Benosis

Frederick Benosis became a suspect after discovering the boy’s body and contacting police. However, he was cleared after being questioned on a lie detector test.

The Foster Home

A foster home about 1.5 miles away from where the boy was found was checked by police. There were eight children residing there at the time, and all the children were checked out and the family was ruled out as suspects.


Forensic facial reconstruction showing what the boy may have looked like when alive.

However, some still think that the father, Arthur Nicoletti was somehow involved because he refused to take a lie detector test. Later, a psychic hired to assist the investigation lead investigators directly to the foster home without having any knowledge of the police being there before.

“M”

The strongest lead came about in 2002 when a woman known only as “M” from Cincinnati, OH claimed that her mother purchased the boy from his parents. She claims that the boy’s name was Jonathan and was regularly abused and kept in the basement. “M” claimed that her mother killed him in a fit of rage by throwing him down on the floor.

After six months of investigator’s attempts to corroborate her story, they determined that “M” had a history of mental problems, she was not reliable, and that none of her information could be proven.

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