By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A memorial service was held Wednesday for a little boy who’s become known as “America’s unknown child.” The boy was found dead 61 years ago in Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood.

The Vidocq Society is not giving up hope on figuring out who this boy is. The society says the sadness and tragedy is why “America’s unknown child” stays in the forefront of people’s minds.

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“Why did this little child have to die? It’s a horrible thing,” said John Mullineaux with the Vidocq Society.

The child was found in a box back in 1957 off of Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase. The answer to who did it or why never materialized.

Meanwhile, he became known as “the boy in the box.” Police estimate he was between 4 and 6 years old. His death is the Philadelphia Police Department’s longest open cold case.

After the initial investigation, he was buried in a city cemetery. Then, in 1998, his body was exhumed to test for DNA. He was reburied at Ivy Hill Cemetery in a donated plot, on Nov. 11, 1998.

“When I come here, I can feel his spirit and he knows he’s loved and he’s missed and we’re going to put a name on that stone,” said Bill Fleisher with the Vidocq Society.

Now, 61 years later, they say they’re closer than ever to figuring out who this boy is.

“There has been within the last six months extraordinary progress from sources all over the world,” said Howard Lebofsky.

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The Vidocq Society hosts a memorial service every year for the boy. They are a group of independent investigators. They say advances in DNA technology is helping them in their quest to find out what happened.

They say, if nothing else, his death was not in vain.

“Since 1957, child molestation, child abuse has been much more to the forefront of America’s conscience than it was back then,” Mullineaux said.

They think a break could come in a matter of months.


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