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"The Boy in the Box" identified by Philadelphia police

Philadelphia police identify Joseph Augustus Zarelli as America's Unknown Child
Philadelphia police identify Joseph Augustus Zarelli as America's Unknown Child 47:09

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A decades-old question was finally answered Thursday morning: Who is "The Boy in the Box?" 

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, joined by other investigators and members of the department during a news briefing, identified "The Boy in the Box" as Joseph Augustus Zarelli, cracking a mystery that has bewildered the nation for years. 

The press conference identifying "The Boy in the Box" is being streamed on CBS News Philadelphia and began at 11 a.m. 

On Wednesday, CBS3 Investigations broke down what can be expected from Thursday's announcement. 

CBS3 Investigations was first to break last week that police had finally identified the boy. At that time, department sources said the possibility of arrests still existed. 

The young boy was found along a Fox Chase roadside in February 1957. A bassinet box held the badly beaten remains.

Investigators were desperate early on to find his name.

Posters were distributed by the thousands across the city.

Despite exhaustive efforts, police were left empty-handed.

CBS3 has closely followed the investigation and kept the case on TV and online.

Last year, Philadelphia police granted CBS3 an exclusive interview.

Now retired former detective Sgt. Bob Kohlmeier talked about the persistence of police.

"Who is the child? What is his name?" Kohlmeier said in April 2021. "Can we at least give him a name?"

Philadelphia Police Capt. Jason Smith last year talked about the many unknowns that have haunted investigators.

"Might there still be witnesses around? There could be," Smith said. "Absolutely. Might there still be a perpetrator that's still alive? Possibly. Could be."

The break in the case is due to major advances in technology -- the cross-checking of DNA profiles and matches in genealogy databases.

Department sources say while they will take questions on the investigation, there is still a lot they won't be able to share.

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