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Philadelphia police uncover name of "The Boy in the Box"

Police use DNA to identify "The Boy in the Box"
Police use DNA to identify "The Boy in the Box" 03:37

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A murder mystery that has gripped Philadelphia for 65 years has been solved. America's unknown child, "The Boy in the Box," now has a name and criminal charges could still be filed.

A child was found murdered, stuffed in a box and abandoned in Philadelphia decades ago. On Wednesday, for the first time, the Philadelphia Police Department said they have uncovered the boy's name.

"To have a name on that stone, that's what everybody has been wishing forever," Linda Tamburri said. "I'm just glad I'm here to actually know I'll see that little boy's name on the stone."

Cemetery workers at Ivy Hill were brought to tears Wednesday when CBS3 Investigations told them Philadelphia police now know the name of "The Boy in the Box."

People like Dave Drysdale and Tamburri have cared for him and for his final resting place like he was their own.

Exclusive: Philadelphia police uncover name of "The Boy in the Box" 03:45

"I think it's wonderful," Drysdale, cemetery secretary and treasurer at Ivy Hill, said. "I just wish that the police officers and all the people involved who long passed away were still here to see it because that was one of their goals and a couple of them said 'I hope they live long enough to see a name put on there.'"

Drysdale was here on the day in 1998 when the remains were transferred to Ivy Hill from Potter's Field. He can't believe police have a name. He's humbled to now engrave it on this headstone.

"Some day, there will be a name on there and it will be great," Drysdale said. "It will be great."

CBS3 Investigations confirmed police know the boy's name after years and years of DNA analysis, cross-referenced with genealogical information.

"Boy in the box": Philly police now have name for boy found dead, stuffed in box decades ago 03:23

The body of the 4-to-6-year-old was found discarded along Susquehanna Road in a bassinet box in February 1957. The victim would eventually become known as "America's Unknown Child."

Lead detectives never stopped searching for answers, and CBS3 reported developments along the way.

"Cause of death is listed as blunt force trauma," now-retired Det. Sgt. Bob Kuhlmeier said in April 2021. "He appeared to be cleaned and freshly groomed with a haircut."  

Police first told CBS3 major progress had been made in their search for an identity after a DNA profile was successfully developed.

Detectives exhumed the remains at Ivy Hill Cemetery in 2019, retrieving more DNA.

Investigators used that fresh DNA and information obtained from genealogy databases to track down family members.

Philadelphia police will be giving an update on the case as early as next week.

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