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HAUNTING QUESTIONS FOR INVESTIGATOR
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS
Fri July 24, 1987
By JOE CLARK, Daily News Staff Writer
Rem Bristow is gearing down. There was a time he'd put it in high gear and keep it there for days, weeks.
"Days off never meant anything to me," said Bristow. "I liked my job."
Before retiring in 1975, Bristow was an investigator for the ME's office. His specialty was pinning names on people who died without an identity. He was good at it, too.
"I worked in the office for 19 yrs," said Bristow. "During that time 20,000 unknowns were brought in the back door. I was able to "identity" all but 24."
On a visit to the city cemetery recently, he raised his right hand - the good one - and pointed to a small, weed-covered plot of ground. "This," he said, "is one of the 24."
And it is this one unknown, unidentified body, this one undecided, Unsettled case that Remington Bristow will take to his grave. Unless he IDs it first. He's been trying to do that for more than 3 decades, and he still has hopes that he'll succeed.
The body is that of a boy, 3, 4 yrs old, who was laid to rest in the city cemetery in the Far Northeast 30 years ago today.
On Feb. 25, 1957, the youngster's body was found in a large cardboard box left in a wooded area off Susquehanna Rd near Verree Rd in Fox Chase.
The case became known in the press as "the boy in the box," and to the cops as "the Fox Chase boy."
Bristow says the body was placed in the box w/care. The child's hair was freshly cut, his nails neatly clipped, his body recently bathed, his arms carefully folded across his chest. "There was a show of love, not disrespect," observed Bristow. The body was nude, wrapped in a cheap, tattered blanket, indicating poverty and leading Bristow to believe someone was about to bury the child "as best they could, but were scared off."
Though there were bruises on his forehead, Bristow feels the child's death was "natual or accidental, not a homicide." "I've seen too many homicides not to know what they look like," Bristow added.
Bristow, 65, suffered a stroke 6 yrs ago that limited the use of his left hand. His left eye droops a bit. He walks with a limp. He speaks slowly.
He's also suffered "a few" heart attacks, and undergone an arterial bypass in his left leg.
"The hardest thing for me to do is walk on uneven ground," said Bristow, gingerly making his way to Grave 191 earlier this week.
Of the 150 or so graves in the cemetery, it's the only one with a tombstone. "Heavenly Father, Bless this Unknown Boy..." it reads.
Bristow and investigators who worked on the case chipped in to buy the stone.
Bristow bent over and started pulling weeds and high grass that hid the marker. "Grass gets so high sometimes you wouldn't even know it's here," he said. "But if I bitch and complain enough, they come out and cut it."
His weeding completed, Bristow crouched down and placed on the grave a spray of artificial carnations he picked up at a supermarket. He said a silent prayer. The day, said Bristow, was reminiscent of the one on which the boy was buried: hot, sunny, muggy, buggy.
"About 30 of us - detectives who worked on the case - were here," recalled Bristow. "It was a very sad occasion. The hardest thing in the world is to bury a child. No matter how tough we were, what we saw during the course of our jobs, when it came to burying that child, we all had a weak spot."
Most of the people who stood around the grave that day are no longer alive.
What started as a routine investigation has become an obsession. Over the years, Bristow says he's checked out "thousands" of leads. All resulted in dead ends. So far.
Despite being retired and in poor health, Bristow continues to run down leads. "I don't let anything go by," he says. After 30 yrs of dogged determination, Bristow feels he's getting close. He thinks he knows who is responsible.
"Everything I do keeps coming back to this one family," said Bristow.
"I'm unable to eliminate them from having some knowledge of who the boy may be." "If this bugs me this much, think how much it does them, unless they have no conscience," he added.
Bristow's visit was over. He wiped the sweat from his brow and started limping across the uneven ground away from the grave.
"As long as I can get around, I'll keep working on it," he said.
"Someday, I hope to have the answer."
All content copyright 1987 PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS
'TO GIVE THE CHILD A NAME . . . A LIFE'
Sunday, October 23, 1988
Section: NEIGHBORS NORTHEAST
By Richard V. Sabatini and Bill Price, Inquirer Staff Writers
Memo: COVER STORY
Unsolved murders in the Northeast
Last in a series
He lies in a grave in a potter's field, in a far corner of the Northeast just off Mechanicsville and Dunks Ferry Roads. Inscribed on the headstone are the words "Heavenly Father, Bless this Unknown Boy."
His death and his life have been a mystery for years. Police don't know his name, his exact age, who his parents are or how he died.
On Feb. 25, 1957, a La Salle College student came upon the boy's nude body in a large cardboard box in a wooded area near Verree and Susquehanna Roads in Fox Chase. He reported it to police the next day.
The boy had no vaccination mark, suggesting that he was not of school age. He was believed to be about 4 years old.
He had been bathed, his hair was crudely cut, his nails were clean and trimmed, his arms were carefully crossed over his chest, and he was wrapped in a cheap plaid flannel blanket that had been cut in half.
The skin on his right hand and right foot was shriveled, as if they had lain in water for some time. An autopsy revealed that he died of multiple head injuries, but how they were sustained was never determined.
Once headlined in newspapers and medical journals across the country as the ''Boy in the Box," the child and his death remain one of the most baffling mysteries in Philadelphia police annals. Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the boy's death, the case is being investigated as a homicide.
It is among 47 unsolved homicides linked to the Northeast during the last 50 years. The number of murders is based on an Inquirer search of homicide files and does not represent an official accounting by the Philadelphia Police Department. The department's Homicide Division does not keep such statistics.
Police recovered the boy's body at 3:45 p.m. on Feb. 26. Remington Bristow, an investigator for the city's Medical Examiner's Office, read about it in the newspaper that evening, hours before he headed to work on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift.
"I had figured by the time I arrived at work, they (police) would have identified the boy," he said.
They hadn't, and Bristow was assigned to the case. In those days, assignments were given out alphabetically according to the first letter of the victim's last name. Bristow's letters were M, N, O, P, Q and U. "(U) for the unknown," he said.
Eventually, the case became a personal mission for him. For 31 years, he has searched to identify the little boy, "to give the child a name, a family, a life," Bristow said recently. "It is difficult to live with the thought that the child has gone to his grave an unknown."
On July 24, 1957, the boy was buried in the City Cemetery. His funeral was paid for with donations from homicide detectives and the public. That fall, a 10-by-20-inch headstone bearing the inscription "Heavenly Father Bless this Unknown Boy", was donated by an East Oak Lane monument company. Three or four times a year, every year, Bristow has placed flowers on the grave.
Over the decades, he has investigated thousands of leads and talked to thousands of people about the case. He has three desk drawers full of files of his own. On his interviews, he carries a battered black briefcase containing copies of police reports, an autopsy report, a police cast of the boy's face, a cap found nearby, a piece of the blanket and several strands of the boy's hair.
"I've worn out six pairs of shoes walking mile after mile, and I've read and reread every police report written about the boy's death," Bristow said. "Somewhere, somebody knows the boy's identity and what happened to him."
Bristow's determination comes from a father's love and from his own background. Twelve years before the boy's body was found, his 3-month-old daughter, Annie Laurie, died of sudden infant death syndrome.
As a teenager, he developed a respect for the dead as the son of a funeral director. When Bristow was 16, his father took him to the family's funeral parlor in Portland, Ore., for the first time. "It was there that I decided to follow my father's footsteps and become a funeral director," Bristow said.
He worked with his father for the next two years before enrolling in a two- year course at the Los Angeles College of Mortuary Science. In 1942, a year after he graduated, he joined the Navy and served until the end of World War II.
In 1947, he settled in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, and opened his own funeral home. Within a couple of years, he also became deputy coroner in Kern County.
Then Bristow came down with what he called "San Joaquin Valley Fever," a virus peculiar to the area, and was forced to leave to survive. In 1952, he and his wife, Jean, moved to South Philadelphia, where the couple had met as children.
For the first few years here, Bristow worked for several funeral directors before joining the Medical Examiner's Office as an investigator. He had been with the office for several years when the boy was found.
As the investigator who got all of the "U" cases, Bristow became an expert at identifying corpses. In the 18 years he worked for the office, Bristow, with the aid of other investigators, worked on 2,000 deaths in which the person's name was not immediately known. Of those cases, only 24 remained unidentified when he retired in 1972, he said.
Nine days after the boy's body was found, dozens of detectives were assigned to the case and 300 police officers canvassed the neighborhood looking for clues and anyone who might have known him. Police made a cast of the boy's face - the one that Bristow carries around - which was commonly referred to as the "death mask."
Police circulated nearly a quarter of a million leaflets with a photograph of the boy to medical journals and through local utility bills. They interviewed hundreds of people. The FBI was called into the case.
The cardboard box was traced to a J.C. Penney Co. store in Upper Darby. It had contained a bassinet. The cap found near the site was traced to a shop in South Philadelphia. It had been sold months earlier. Neither the canvassing nor the evidence led to anything.
An anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania studied the boy's bone structure, concluding that he was of northwest or west central European ancestry and that bone scars indicated that he had been chronically ill or undernourished.
Those findings led police investigators and Bristow to believe that the child was the son of a "lower-economic family, migrant family or itinerant working family," Bristow said.
Initially, Bristow did not take as active a role in the case. "I assumed police would come up with answers at any moment. I turned over every lead I received to police," he said.
But six months later, when it became apparent that the boy might never be identified, his interest grew. When Bristow retired in 1972, he began working solely on the case.
"When you've been able to cut all the 'unknowns' down to 24, and this is the only child among them, the case takes on a special meaning. You want to identify the child," he said. Bristow is even offering $1,000 of his own money for information leading to the child's identity.
He continues to reread every police report on the case, including his own files of interviews, "to make sure I haven't missed anything," he said. Before houses were built on the Fox Chase site in the mid-1960s, he frequently returned to it, looking for clues and to ponder the case.
He follows up on every new lead that trickles in to the police, no matter how frivolous. Bristow has been to many parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Now that he's gotten older - Bristow won't give his age, but says he's "39 in each leg" - his two grandsons, a brother or a nephew drives him to the interviews.
In the first year of the investigation, Bristow said he received numerous leads from people who thought they knew the boy. One man tried to use him to locate his grandson, Bristow said. The grandfather came into the Medical Examiner's Office and said the dead boy was his grandson. The man said his son had been killed in a car accident and that his daughter-in-law had taken the grandson away.
Bristow spent weeks tracking the woman down, finally locating her in a small town in upstate Pennsylvania. Bristow went there to talk to her on a Sunday and found her in a park. "When I asked her about her son, she immediately said she knew who sent me," Bristow said. The boy was fine, and the mother didn't want the grandfather to know her whereabouts.
"All I told him was that his daughter-in-law and grandson were OK," Bristow said. "I never told him where they lived."
Bristow also has turned to unorthodox methods of investigation. In early 1961, after reading a newspaper story about people with extrasensory perception, he contacted a woman in northern New Jersey who had a reputation for helping police solve crimes in other cities. Her name was Florence.
Florence, who was in her 70s, contended that she could identify a person by holding a piece of metal that in some way was connected to him. Bristow went to see her at her home in Palisades Park, and took with him two staples from the cardboard box. That was the first of many visits.
Florence, who said that she had never been in Philadelphia, received ''visions" of places, houses and names of streets that Bristow was unaware of until he checked them on a city map. In one vision, Bristow said, she saw a row of brick houses, with the fourth house having an old wooden railing. On the corner, she saw a candy store. She also saw a child playing in a log cabin.
After months of driving around the Fox Chase area, Bristow said, he found a street with rowhouses and a candy store on the corner. He talked to neighbors and learned that the family in the fourth house had two children and had moved two days before the boy's body was found. He also learned that the family had a dog. Because there were no dog hairs on the boy's blanket, he dismissed any connection between the family and the boy.
A few weeks later, he spotted a log cabin on a site with a large stone house, which had a wooden railing. The log cabin and house stood on a farm 1.5 miles from where the boy was found. A man and woman who owned the farm cared for foster children, he said.
Bristow learned that the children slept on cots in the log cabin in the summer. He found out that a young boy under the couple's care was missing, but the boy was later found in Florida with his mother.
Bristow said he has always believed that the farm was linked to the case because of what he found there. Later in 1961, the foster home was closed and the farmhouse sold. Bristow went to a preview of an auction of its furnishings and spotted a bassinet like the one sold by Penneys. "It was covered with dust, sitting in the basement," Bristow said.
Outside, he found plaid blankets hanging on a clothesline. The blankets had been cut in half to fit the metal cots the children had slept on. There was also a duck pond on the property; Bristow theorized that this could have been the place where the boy's hand and foot had lain in water. Although he wasn't able to prove anything, Bristow has kept those clues in the back of his mind.
His search never lapsed. Once while on vacation in the mid-1960s, he visited migratory camps in California, thinking the parents might be there. Also around this time, a local artist made a plaster bust of the boy from pictures Bristow had taken of the body. The bust is part of the file in the case at the Medical Examiner's Office.
Four years ago, Bristow drove to Pottstown after receiving an anonymous letter suggesting that he concentrate his search there. He placed a classified ad in a Pottstown newspaper and the next day, an anonymous caller gave him the name of a family whose young son supposedly had disappeared some time ago. The caller said that the father had repeatedly been charged by authorities with neglect of his children. Bristow talked to neighbors of the father who told him that they had seen the man's son and that he was fine.
Last spring, after going through old police reports, Bristow realized that a doctor who had treated the children at the foster home had never been interviewed. Bristow was hoping that the boy's medical records would be among the doctor's files. He located the doctor's wife, who told him that she destroyed the records about five years ago after her husband died.
Early last summer, Bristow got another lead. He learned that a woman whom he had tried to interview 15 years ago might be willing to talk now. At the time of the interview, the woman's husband had told her to keep quiet and not to get involved, Bristow said. "Now he is dead and she's decided to give me the information," he said.
Bristow will not conduct the interview, however. An investigator from the Homicide Division of the Philadelphia Police Department is expected to go to New Jersey soon to talk to the woman.
Bristow has had some difficulties recently and has not been able to work on the case as much as before. In March, Jean, his wife of 48 years, died of an aortic aneurysm. Her death was such a blow that he has not been able to work. He moved out of his home to an apartment in Bustleton to be near his daughter, Rita Kimelheim. In June, he suffered a heart attack, and three weeks ago, he had bypass surgery. He is recuperating at home.
He hopes the woman in New Jersey can finally unlock the door to the boy's identity.
"I've been built up and let down many times," he said. "When I eliminate one lead I go on to the next.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think about him, that I don't think about the case. I will never give up."
Philadelphia March 25, 1998 (Far Northeast)
Searching for a name - 30 years later
By William Kenny
Times Staff Writer
He might be the most famous anonymous person in Philadelphia history.
In 1957, his visage seemingly was posted everywhere - in supermarkets, state liquor stores, government offices and private businesses. It was published in every newspaper, and even mailed to every customer of the Philadelphia Gas Works with the monthly bill.
The lifeless image of the 4 year-old boy with the bruised face and choppy haircut has been seen by literally millions of people in the Delaware Valley and beyond.
But to this day, not one person has come forward to accurately identify "The Boy in the Box" - the dead child found in February 1957 along unpaved Susquehanna Road in then-rural Fox Chase.
Over the years, the investigation has been taken on by both local and federal agencies that have dedicated thousands of man-hours pursuing dozens of promising leads, none of which has come to fruition. The investigation died and was reborn several times.
Solving the mystery became a lifelong obsession for one investigator from the city medical examiner's office whose personal pursuit lasted into his retirement and until his death in 1993.
Now an international organization of crime-solving experts based in Philadelphia is adopting the case. On March 19, retired police detective Sam Weinstein, active police homicide detective Thomas Augustine and longtime Daily News reporter Ron Avery detailed the gruesome discovery and ensuing investigation to a meeting of the Vidocq Society.
The society is a private, non-profit group whose members possess varied investigative expertise ranging from forensics to law The society usually maintains confidentiality with its activities but decided to open its latest meeting - held at the Downtown Club in the Public Ledger Building on Independence Mall - to the press.
The decision was made "in hopes that someone will see the resulting publicity and finally step forward after all these years to help us solve a death that captivated headlines in America and across the world years ago," said Vidocq commissioner Bill Fleisher, a former Philadelphia police officer and FBI special agent.
A 26-year-old La Salle College student discovered the dead boy in a thickly wooded area near Susquehanna and Verree roads, next to Pennypack Park. The male student wandered into the woods to spy on the residents of the nearby Good Shepherd Home for wayward girls, then discovered the box.
Because of the seedy circumstances surrounding his discovery, the student did not immediately inform authorities. But a priest convinced the student to contact police the following day.
Weinstein was the second policeman to arrive at the scene that day.
"Going back forty-one years, it was an isolated wooded area," Weinstein said. "There were no homes, only the Good Shepherd Home. The (road) was only wide enough for one vehicle. The initial call to police radio said they found a cardboard box from JCPenney's and inside was a doll."
They soon confirmed that the boy was real and had been dead for between three days and two weeks. He was 40-1/2 inches tall and weighed 30 pounds. He had bruises from head to toe on both sides of his body, including prominent ones on his forehead and temple area. His hair had been chopped very crudely, but his fingernails were neatly trimmed. His naked body was covered by an Indian-style blanket.
The area of the discovery was used as a dumping site. The roadside was strewn with trash.
"It was sad because it was a dump and he was just dumped there, " Weinstein said.
According to a chapter about the case in Avery's book City of Brotherly Mayhem: Philadelphia Crimes and Criminals, police expected to crack the case within a matter of hours or days. Occasionally, the book stated, a drifter would wander into the city, die, and go unidentified, but it was rare. For a child, it was unheard of.
As a participant in the original investigation, Weinstein heard all of the false early leads At the Vidocq meeting, he told of one tip called in by a man who said he knew how to obtain a pre-mortem photograph of the boy sitting on an Indian blanket. Weinstein even received authorization from his commander to attempt to purchase the photo.
"But he said not to spend more than fifty dollars for it," Weinstein said. "I think I spent between thirty-five and fifty dollars.
The boy in the photo looked like the dead boy, and the blanket looked like the blanket found in the box. But after further investigation, Weinstein discovered that the boy in the photo was still alive and obviously not the one found in Fox Chase.
Investigators also pursued medical records for the dead boy, whose body had several small scars indicative of prior medical procedures. The boy also had been circumcised. Every physician in the area was sent a flier of the unidentified boy. The American Medical Association circulated a description of the boy across the nation. None of the doctors identified him.
The sources of the box - which originally contained a bassinet - as well as the blanket and a blue corduroy "Jeff cap" found next to the box were all checked out. But none of the retailers or manufacturers offered definitive information.
As leads wore thin and the months passed, authorities decided to bury the boy in the city's Potter's Field in Parkwood. So much attention and public sympathy were devoted to the boy that investigators were able to take up a collection for a tombstone. The epithet reads, Heavenly Father, Bless This Unknown Boy. It is the only grave at the site marked by a tombstone.
For years, the grave was mysteriously kept up and decorated with flowers. The saddened medical examiner's investigator, Remington Bristow, was the mystery caretaker. Afer his death, a grandson picked up the tradition of maintaining the grave.
Bristow spent 36 years on the case, often following leads to distant parts of the country, said Avery, an Oxford Circle resident who personally interviewed Bristow on multiple occasions. He went to his grave believing he knew where the answer to the mystery could be found.
In the book, Avery attributed Bristow's personal interest to the fact that a son of his own had died at a very young age.
Bristow believed the solution rested with a family that lived about a mile from the site where the boy was found. A psychic used by law-enforcement officials envisioned a house where the family ran a foster home; she led Bristow there on her only visit to Philadelphia.
"A psychic in North Jersey said to look for a house with children playing in it and with a log cabin," Avery told the Vidocq members. "About a mile-and-a-third away, he finds a large house which turns out to be a foster home. On the property is a log cabin."
The couple living there had five foster children at the time of the discovery, as well as a 20-year-old stepdaughter. The couple claimed to take only children of "school age." All five of the foster children were checked out and accounted for.
Bristow theorized that the dead boy was an illegitimate child of the couple's stepdaughter. He believed that the boy died accidentally, and that he was about to be buried when someone or something scared off the burial party.
"I've seen too many homicides not to know what they look like," Bristow was quoted as saying in Avery's book. "The body was washed. He had a fresh haircut. His nails were clipped. He was laid out for burial. They did everything but call the funeral director."
Bristow felt the death may have been accidental. He theorized that those who left the boy did not step forward because the death was ruled a homicide.
Avery disputes that part of Bristow's logic.
"He said whoever was going to bury (the boy) was scared away," Avery said. "But it was so close to the road. People don't bury there. It was a dumping area. In my inexpert opinion, he was dumped."
In 1985, Bristow located the foster home couple, who had moved to the town of Dublin in rural upper Bucks County. He unsuccessfully appealed to the man to take a lie-detector test.
Several weeks ago, Augustine was asked by a superior to look into the case with the belief that DNA evidence could be obtained from the stepdaughter of the foster couple and matched with the DNA obtained from a lock of the dead boy's hair preserved by the medical examiner.
Using a telephone number recorded by Bristow in a summary of his investigation, Augustine again contacted the man from the foster home. He discovered that the man's wife had passed away. The man had married again - to his stepdaughter.
"He didn't want to hear anything more about the 'Boy in the Box,"' Augustine said. "I asked him where was his stepdaughter. He said,'She's right here with me. I'm married to her.
The woman admitted to having a son who died at the age of 3 in 1955, but that he was electrocuted along Frankford Avenue on a department-store amusement ride. She also told Augustine that she had three other children who were stillborn in the late 1940s and early '50s.
Augustine checked out her story. Everything, he said, could be confirmed.
"I think that's a dead-end street with that home up there, and with the psychic," he said. Unfortunately, the police have exhausted every other lead as well.
"With most investigations, you can go back and say,'What else could have been done? What should have been done?"' Augustine said. "Not this one. There are thousands of pages in the investigation. No one has ever come forth and said,'That's my neighbor's kid.
"They covered all the bases. If there was an Unsolved Mysteries (on television) at the time, he would have been on it.
Until the case is solved, Augustine said, there will continue to be public interest, amazement and sympathy.
"It really makes you sad", he said, "You read all these things, and nobody steps forward.
The Vidocq Society's March 1998 meeting featured the unsolved death of this unidentified, malnourished approximately-four-year-old boy whose battered body was found inside a cardboard box tossed onto a roadside trash heap in then-rural Northeast Philadelphia in 1957.
The past 41 years have done little to mute the memories and profound sadness surrounding a case which began when the small boy's body first was discovered in Philadelphia's Fox Chase section. Philadelphia Police have never abandoned their investigation.
The Philadelphia Homicide Division still hopes to identify the victim whose body now lies in the only marked grave in potters' field. Once the identification is made investigators then hope to be able to determine exactly how the boy received the brain injury from which he died.
Presenting the case for The Vidocq Society were Philadelphia Homicide Detective Thomas J. Augustine; Philadelphia Daily News reporter and author Ron Avery; and Sam Weinstein, a retired Philadelphia police intelligence officer. A rookie in 1957, Weinstein was the second cop to respond to the crime scene. Augustine, Avery and Weinstein described aspects of a case that many consider to be one of the most vexing in modern history for law enforcement in Philadelphia and the U.S.
Vidocq Society Commissioner William S. Fleisher, V.S.M. began the presentation by calling the unsolved death, "one of the most amazing cases in Philadelphia history, " predicting that the case would be so compelling that, "you'll come away with a burning desire to have this mystery solved." Avery said the boy's death/dumping was "the greatest mystery in Philadelphia County in the last half century.
To anyone who lived in the Philadelphia area in the 1950s, the widely-distributed post-mortem photo of the blonde-haired boy is "a picture that is indelibly emblazoned in our memory," Avery said, recalling that the picture was "seen everywhere."
Gas stations, businesses, supermarkets, state liquor stores and newspapers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware were plastered with the dead boy's image in hopes of identifying the child and the person or persons who threw him away after he was killed.
A complete account of the March presentation appeared in the May 1998 edition of The Vidocq Journal.
Philadelphia City Paper Interactive
Eh, What's Up, Vidocq?
Saturday's episode of America' s Most Wanted will feature members of the Vidocq Society, the Philadelphia-based association of former cops and forensic experts, as they present one of the most daunting cases they've ever tackled: The Boy in the Box.
"It's a fascinating case," says William Fleisher, a former police officer and FBI and Customs agent and co-founder of the Vidocq (Vee-Dock) Society, which is named after a legendary French detective .
The Boy in the Box case began with the discovery of a tiny body near Susquehanna and Veree roads in the Fox Chase section in February 1957. The 4- to 5-year-old boy showed signs of abuse and was malnourished -- he weighed just 30 pounds.
His naked body had been covered with a cheap cotton flannel blanket, and a royal blue corduroy men's cap was found nearby.
The Philadelphia Police Department hung countless posters showing his bruised little face, but he was never identified. Forty-one years later, the crime remains unsolved -- making it the perfect case for the exclusive Vidocq Society.
Fleisher, forensic sculptor Frank Bender and other Vidocq members have examined the evidence for months. Bender has even created a bust showing what the boy's father might have looked like.
This week, America's Most Wanted host John Walsh and a video crew came to town to interview the Vidocq investigators. Fleisher, now a private investigator and polygraph expert, has developed an elaborate theory about the boy's short life and death.
Investigators determined that the boy, who was white, was probably of Northern European ancestry -- possibly German. The emaciation and other signs suggest chronic illness. Fleisher speculates that he might have been the son of an American serviceman who served in Europe and a European woman he brought back to America. If the boy was in fact chronically ill, the stress might have led to the break-up of their marriage. The mother then might have found a boyfriend or remarried, and he would be the likely aggressor.
"As a rule, I don't think birth parents deliberately kill their kids," Fleisher says.
Whatever the case, Vidocq members --- including a retired Philadelphia cop who was the second on the scene of the grisly discovery --- hope the national broadcast will provide some answers. Information about the case will be posted on the show's Web site, www.amw.com.
The show is scheduled to air Saturday, 8 p.m. on Fox 29. After the broadcast, information about the case will be posted on the show's web site, www.amw.com.