Jonathan Harker
  Published on September 2, 2019   
Now blogging on

Boy In The Box

The Boy in the Box case is a haunting true story that has never been solved. I like to think of this case as, only one body, but a million unanswered questions.

It was a Monday February 25, 1957 when the box was discovered in the woods off Susquehanna Road literally thrown out with the trash as this was a popular dumping site at the time..

Susquehanna is a narrow country lane about a half-mile long linking together Pine road with Verree road in the Fox Chase section of northeast Philadelphia.

The cardboard box that contained the unknown boy's body (indicated by white arrow) was partially obscured by the dense underbrush.

Who could ever imagine driving by a box, not thinking anything of it, and there being a dead child inside?

John Powroznik,18, was the first to discover the body around February 22-23 after riding his bicycle down Susquehanna Road on his way to his church gymnasium for a game of basketball.

Powroznik did not report his finding to the police until after authorities found the body.

Another passerby named Frederick J. Benonis, 26 also spotted the body on the way back from his class at LaSalle College.

Benonis also didn't report the boy in the box to police until February 26, which was one day after the authorities discovered the crime scene. Benonis is a quirky character and a 'peeping-tom,' who loved to spy on the local girls attending the Good Shepherd School for Wayward Girls across the street from where the discovery site.

The box, damp on the outside, but dry on the inside measured 35x19x15 with the words "Fragile. Handle with care" typed on the outside. A shipping label showed it's contents were once sent from Peru to Indiana, finally arriving at a JCPenney store on November 27, 1956.


Inside the box, a badly beaten and deceased child, no older than 5 or 6 and no taller than 40 inches. His body, badly bruised, he was naked, his arms folded.

A possible gesture of remorse from the killer?

The boy was wrapped inside a torn blanket, but why? To protect his fully nude body from freezing in the February chill? 🤔

The JCPenney that once stored the box was in upper Darby, and just west of Philadelphia, so obviously police decided to start there.

The box also contained chips of white paint, sent to the FBI for analysis. The white color made sense as the detectives soon discovered that the box once held a white bassinet - coincidence or essential? 🤔

And was one of about a dozen sold to the public from December 3, 1956, to February 16, 1957.

Unfortunately for detectives that JCPenney had a cash-only policy at the time, so there were no traces of a purchaser.

Lab analysis found no fingerprints on the box, and the blanket that wrapped the dead boy had been recently washed.


Dr. Joseph W. Spelman, city medical examiner at the time performed a detailed autopsy on the boy and what he found was disturbing.

    Bruising, all up and down the body and face of the boy, was instantly noticeable. The hair had been "crudely" cut with patches lying around the boy's nude body.

The deceased boy's blue eyes were sunken into his skull and half-closed. His mouth rested partially open, and it looked as though he had been crying before death.

"But it was the look on the face that chilled him, a look he would see in his mind's eye even in old age." See The Boy in the Box: The unsolved case of America's unknown child by David Stout.

As previously mentioned, the boy was nude, but there were no signs that the boy had been raped or sexually assaulted in any way.

The haircut was cut while he was naked. The boy's right hand and both soles of his feet were wrinkled in what caused a "washerwoman effect."

Dr. Spelman speculated that the parent might have been bathing the boy while cutting his hair at the same time.

The boy had three small scars (the ones on his chest and groin looked similar to surgical incisions.

Creepy as shit - the Boy in the Box dressed up and displayed so neighborhood kids may recognize him by his clothes.


Also discovered near the body was a man's blue corduroy hat. However, detectives do not know for sure if it has any significance in the boy in the box case.

A label inside the hat read Robbins Bald Eagle Hat Company located at 2603 South Seventh street. The owner Hannah Robbins told detectives that she remembered the man who bought this particular cap because he requested a unique leather strap on the back.

Robbins also told police that the man who purchased the hat looked similar to the boy in the box and he had no accent.


There have been numerous suspects in this case, the most probable being Arthur and Catherine Nicoletti and their 20-year-old daughter, Anna Marie Nagle. This family lived 1.5 miles away from the discovery site and they constantly take in many children to foster.

Many detectives believe that the Boy in the Box was once a resident of the Nicoletti's home.

The grave of America's Unknown Child - photo NBC Philadelphia

Hey guys, if you really liked this post please share it to your friends and family. - Jon


My research and photos came from two sources

The Boy in the Box: The unsolved case of America's unknown child by David Stout.

America's Unknown Child (the Boy in the Box mystery). (2018, September 29). Retrieved from

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