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02/35/62 Philadelphia Bulletin
Mystery Is Five Years Old
4 Persons Give 'Sixth Sense" Tips To Prober in Murder of Boy in Box
By William W. Lawrence
Of The Bulletin Staff
Just five years ago on Feb. 25, 1957, the body of a blond, blue-eyed little boy was found in a cardboard box in a thicket off Susquehanna road west of Verree road in Fox Chase.
Since then, scores of police investigators checked thousands of clues and the mystery of his violent death.
Yesterday, Remington Bristow, an investigator in the medical examiner's office here, said that he has been investigating the case through the use of extrasensory perception (ESP).
ESP is defined in the Encyclopedia Brittanica as "perception beyond the beyond the range of the known sensory processes". It is supposed to embody such powers as mental telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition.
It is known as the sixth sense. Bristow does not claim such powers himself. He said, however that as a result of questioning four persons who claim to possess such powers, he now feels reasonably certain that he:
--Knows the identity of the dead boy--by name.
--Knows where he lived in the Northeast.
--Has established the name of the slayer and at least one other person involved in the crime.
"The boy," Bristow said, "was killed by a man who is short, husky, and has fat fingers. He has an unusually shaped scar that is visible.
'His Wife Was Aware...'
"He is a non-professional type...a man who works with his hands but apparently isn't able to hold a steady job.
He drinks sporadically. There are other children in his family. His wife was aware of the killing.
"Most likely it was not a deliberate killing. The boy apparently was killed accidentally. The killer was afraid of what he had done, and hid the body in the box, intending to come back later to bury it. But the body was found before he could do so.
Bristow has worked on the case from the very day the body was discovered.
He was in the office when the news of the finding of the "boy in the box" came in. He was among those who participated in the police investigation before turning to ESP.
He Wrote a Letter
He said that he first became interested in ESP as a way to solve the boy's killing last February when he read about a man named Dr. W. H. C. Tenhaff, a parapsychologist at the University of Utrecht, Holland.
Parapsychology is the scientific name for ESP. Parapsychologists have been experimenting with it. "Para" is a Greek prefix meaning "beside" or "beyond".
Bristow wrote Dr. Tenhaff a detailed letter, telling him all about the "boy in the box" and asking his help in applying ESP to solve the case.
Dr. Tenhaff wrote back explaining that he couldn't be of any help in Holland because he'd need some object associated with the boy, preferably metal, to hold while concentrating his mental powers on the case.
He referred Bristow to Dr. Joseph B. Rhine, director of the parapsychology center at Duke University. The Duke center is a leader in the investigation of ESP.
Name of Three
Dr. Rhine referred Bristow to Dr. Carroll B. Nash, director of parapsychology at St. Joseph's College here. Dr. Nash gave him the names of three persons supposed to be endowed with ESP powers.
Bristow got in touch with one of the three, a New Jersey woman.
He made two trips to the woman's home, and spent four hours on each occasion interviewing her and taking down on a tape recorder everything she said.
She Read About It
The woman had never visited Philadelphia, but she acknowledged that she knew a little bit about the case involving the dead boy, from having read about it.
Bristow said he told her very few details. Describing one of his two sessions with her, he said that she sat in a rocking chair, talking about "every imaginable subject".
In her hands she held the staples that had held the cardboard box together, as well as a piece of the blanket in which the body had been wrapped, and the boy's hat.
The woman concentrated. She said:
"I see a street...the fourth house from the corner. There's a candy store on the corner...an old man behind the counter. I see steps...four steps...a "wooden rail". It's an older home.
It appears to be made of wood.
Her voice trailed off. She spoke some more, and suddenly mentioned some names.
"Could they be the names of some streets" she asked.
She mentioned other names...the names of persons. All of this conversation was recorded on tape.
Bristow emerged from the two sessions with the woman feeling that he hadn't made much progress.
"It seemed to me that I had accomplished nothing," he said.
But he played the tapes back and copied the names on them.
Some of the names were really those of streets. He checked them out. All of them were in the Northeast.
Streets Near Body
Furthermore, He said, all were located near the where the body was found. In fact, the spot was easily accessible from each of the streets, some of them only a block long.
Bristow decide to pursue his ESP work further.
The woman had given him the names of three other persons in Philadelphia. Bristow looked all three of them up and had some discussions with them.
All three also mentioned some names. They were not the same names mentioned by the New Jersey woman.
Bristow checked all of the streets mentioned in the first interviews. He was searching for the house described by her.
Bristow emphasized that analyzing the thoughts of the ESP people wasn't easy. A lot of what they said was meaningless.
02/25/63 Philadelphia Daily News
Six Years Later, Two Men Remember Unknown Boy
Today happens to be an anniversary. Six years ago, on Feb. 25, 1957, the body of a still unidentified boy was found in a Fox Chase weed patch. He had been slain.
That hardly makes this a sentimental occasion. But conscience or curiosity could lead the person responsible for the killing to scan the public prints today for mention of the unforgotten event. And that's the opening Remington Bristow wants.
Bristow, 41, is an investigator for the city medical examiner's office.
HE HAS BEEN trying for six years -- mostly in his own time -- to find the identity of the unknown boy. More than 100,000 man-hours of detective work have failed to turn up one solid clue.
Bristow himself checked literally thousands of leads, admits the chase is an "obsession" with him. And he has offered a $1,000 reward to get the mystery off his back.
He'll pay the first tipster who comes up with a solid lead to the boy's identity, and he would even pay the child's parents and presumed killers. They may be the only ones who really know.
THE UNKNOWN BOY became one of the most celebrated cases in Philadelphia history soon after the body was found in a cardboard box off Susquehanna Ave. near Verree Rd. The victim was 4 to 6 years old, 41 inches tall, undernourished. His blond hair had been cropped crudely -- perhaps to foil identification -- and the naked body was wrapped in a half-blanket.
At the beginning, few persons doubted that the crime ultimately would be solved. Police traced the cardboard carton, the blanket, other articles found near the body. The child's picture was circulated nationwide. All clues ended in a blank wall.
THE BOY is buried in the city cemetery at Mechanicsville and Dunks Ferry Rd., under a grave marker donated by detectives who worked on the case. The epitaph says: "Heavenly Father Bless This Unknown Boy."
Police investigation of the death never has been officially closed. Detectives still occasionally check out new leads.
Bristow, assigned the job of finding out the boy's identity, has not given up and says he never will. He keeps a suitcase full of information and evidence in his car and other quantities of material at his 1708 Faunce St. home.
HE FIRST OFFERED the cash reward -- an unprecedented step for a city employee -- last Jan. 28, has received numerous leads, all of which he checked out. Results: zero.
He is not discouraged.
One phone caller couldn't give Bristow any information, but kindly offered to pay $100.00 of the reward.
Bristow believes there is a chance the boy died accidentally and that the parents were poor and frightened and did not know what to do with the body except abandon it. They may have been itinerant laborers.
"I WANT TO HELP them if I can," said Bristow. I'd like to talk to these parents and find out what they or anyone else might have done to prevent this. "We should hear their side of the story."
Bristow can be reached at MUnicipal 6-5186.
Another city employee who never has given up trying to help solve the case is William H. Kelly, 35, a police fingerprint expert.
Married and the father of six children, Kelly, of 2813 Hellerman St., systematically tours area hospitals, checking the Unknown Boys footprint against those in hospital nursery records.
KELLY ADMITS his labors will be in vain if the child was born outside the Philadelphia area. But he says that "conscience is always in our favor," that is, one parent or the other can always break the case open by confessing.
Thus, six years later, two men still refuse to file the Case of the Unknown Boy under "H" for hopeless.
02/25/63 Philadelphia Daily News
10 Years Of Love For The Unknown Boy In Grave No. 191
By: Dick Aarons
IGO THERE a lot-- to the grave. And I have often wondered if they were ever there, too, watching maybe.
"I've looked into the face's of people here at the cemetery hoping to detect something. Hoping that they'll be given away by their emotions. Or maybe by the way they watch me."
Remington Bristow was talking. He sounded tired. Bristow has been trying to meet "them" for the last 10 years, in fact, it will be 10 years ago Saturday that it all started. Ten years ago that Bristow and a half dozen men like him dedicated their lives to finding "them."
BRISTOW IS AN INVESTIGATOR for the Medical Examiner's office. And the people he wants more than anything else to meet are the parents of the Fox Chase Boy -- that's what the police call him, a youngster whose battered body was discovered a decade ago in a cardboard box off Susquehanna rd. near Verree rd.
The pathetic find literally touched the Nations heart. Even Londoners 3500 miles away followed wire service dispatches daily. How did he die? Who abandoned him? The questions were never answered.
"He'd probably be in high school by now," thought Bristow aloud, "a tall Polish-looking blond kid. More of a basketball type than football. He was about 4 years old when we found him -- maybe 5."
Since then, Bristow and the others working on their own time have checked out thousands of leads. In the last two years, leads -- mostly tips from ordinary citizens who have followed the case from the beginning -- have been traced all the way to the West Coast and Canada.
ONE OF THESE TIPS CAME NOT long ago to retired fingerprint expert William Kelly who's been in on the investigation from the start.
Bristow told the story "Kelly got a letter and a clipping from a newspaper dated one month before the boy was found. The story was about new immigrants. And a picture with it was our little boy. There was almost no question about it."
"Everything checked. The age, coloring, facial expression, build, the whole works. So many things fit. We followed the lead and after accumulating a mountain of letters, we traced the boy in the picture to his home down south somewhere. He was alive.
They even tried ESP -- extra-sensory perception.
Bristow contacted a world-famous expert, Florence (just that), who had solved a number of "perfect" crimes. "She didn't tell us who the boy was," said Bristow, but she asked questions I never thought of. She brought out things for me to check.
"She may have given me the answer and I haven't been able to see it. I taped all our conversations and I going over them, looking for things I missed before. New leads to be checked out."
THAT'S WHY BRISTOW OFTEN goes to grave No. 191 in the city cemetery up near the Holmesburg prison. He and the detectives originally assigned to the case buried the boy there 10 years ago. They were his pallbearers; they paid for his marker that now carries the inscription:
BLESS THIS UNKNOWN BOY
February 25, 1957
There was nothing at all logical about the case when it first broke. It was incredible that a dead boy could be left in a cardboard box and remain absolutely untraceable.
Over 400,000 posters went up all over the Nation. The FBI gave the case top priority. The American Medical Association circulated pictures to physicians all over the country. But not one concrete lead turned up. Not one in 10 years. Bristow has not given up hope.
"I THINK THE SOLUTION OF THIS thing lies in getting one point across to the parents if they're still around," said Bristow. "That thing is that although this case has always been called a homicide, the death certificate lists the manner of death as "unknown."
"We are not trying to solve a murder. I personally feel we've never been able to solve the case because the parents feel they'll be charged with homicide. Really the only thing we could charge them with is illegal disposal of a dead body.
"I'm getting older now (he's 46) and more compassionate, I guess, and I'm convinced that this wasn't a murder. If it were a homicide they would not have put him in a box... cut his hair... bathed him... crossed his hands over his stomach gently and carefully.
"Maybe they were going to dig a little grave for him and were frightened off by a car. I'm convinced the parents were ignorant. The boy was dead. They had no money. Didn't know what to do. So they did all that in preparation for the burial. There was definitely love there.
"The cause of death is listed as multiple injuries. We don't know how he suffered them, nor do we care. He could have fallen."
ON SATURDAY, BRISTOW AND THE REST of the investigators at the Medical Examiners office and a few detectives will go to the boy's grave to observe the anniversary.
They'll take prayer books with them and a blanket of flowers. The prayers and flowers will be for all the unknowns in the cemetery.
"I'll be looking for the parents then. I want them to come. I want them to come up to me and introduce themselves. If they would tell me their story, I'd do everything in the world I could do to help them.
"I feel I know them already. They shouldn't fear me because, if nothing else, we've shared the experience of loving a boy -- though it be in death."
02/23/67- Philadelphia Bulletin
Frustrating 10-Year Search
Officers to Visit Grave Of 'Unknown Boy'
By George L. Kerns
Of the Bulletin Staff
The city cemetery near Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville roads is regarded as the final resting-place for those who have no one to mourn for them or care for their graves.
There is, however one exception among those buried there.
That one is a boy (listed officially on city police records as "unidentified boy") whose body was found Feb. 25, 1957, in a cardboard carton near Susquehanna and Verree roads in Fox Chase.
Wreath for tombstone
Remembering the boy this Saturday will be a squad of investigators from the medical examiner's office. They will place a wreath on the small tombstone, which is engraved "Heavenly Father Bless This Unknown Boy."
To some of the investigators those few moments will revive the intense frustration of the fruitless years of investigation that drew a total blank.
Not one shred of evidence was ever produced towards the identity of the boy. All they have ever determined was that he was between four and six years old; had blue eyes, blond hair, was 41 inches tall and weighed a skimpy 40 pounds.
Detectives kept at it
The anniversary of his death might also have been swallowed up in the passage of time had it not been for the detectives who labored for years on the case.
On a sunny summery July day in 1957 homicide detectives attended a funeral for the boy. Later in the summer contributions by detectives and others produced a fund for the purchase of a modest grave marker.
It is the only marker in the entire cemetery.
Annually, contingents of police and the medical examiners investigators, some who labored on the case for years and others who joined the departments in later years make the trek to pay their respects to "the boy."
The case attracted nationwide attention and was classed as one of the "most intensive" investigations ever handled by the Philadelphia Police Department. Hot leads filtered in during the first two years, and then just as quickly cooled down.
One veteran investigator at the medical examiners office, Remington Bristow, has made the investigation a personal thing. He has posted $1,000 of his own money, as a reward for information leading to the identity of the boy.
Detective Andrew Widger, of the Northeast Detective Division, one of the first investigators in the case, spent several years "running down" the possible and impossible leads.
02/26/67 Philadelphia Bulletin
Graveside Rites Mark Death of 'Boy in the Box'
Eight members of the medical examiners office held a brief ceremony at the grave of an unknown child in the city cemetery yesterday.
They placed a wreath on the grave and said silent prayers for the "Boy in the Box," the only identity ever given to the blue eyed, blond youngster whose body was found in a cardboard box in Fox Chase on Feb. 25, 1957 just ten years ago.
The case touched off a futile nationwide search for the boy's identity or parents.
Members of the medical examiners office and homicide detectives who worked on the case took up a collection and bought a simple headstone to mark the grave.
Annual ceremonies have been held at the grave in the cemetery at Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville roads.
02/26/68 Philadelphia Bulletin
City Aide Pays Visit to Grave of 'Boy in the Box'
Every year on Feb. 25, Remington Bristow, staff investigator for the medical examiners office, observes the anniversary of the death of the "boy in the box."
Yesterday, Bristow, his wife Jean, and two grandchildren, Lisa, five and Mark, four, visited the grave of the unknown boy at City Cemetery, Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville roads.
On Feb. 25, 1957, the unclothed body of a blond, blue-eyed boy between three and five was found in a cardboard box in fox Chase. He had been beaten, but the cause of death was never determined.
An intensive effort was made to discover the boy's identity and to locate his parents. Bristow, especially, has pursued the answers for 11 years.
He arrived yesterday at 2:30 and put a bouquet on the simple headstone, donated by detectives and medical examiners who had worked on the case. He stayed 30 minutes.
02/26/68 Philadelphia Bulletin
At a Little Boy's Grave
He Was Nameless, But Some Remember
By Edward J. McFall
PHILADELPHIA (UPI)-- In a lonely potter's field grave here lies the body of a little boy abandoned by his parents and almost forgotten by time.
But there will be some who will pause today to remember the boy who was laid to rest among forgotten people exactly 11 years ago without the final dignity of a name.
One who will not forget is an investigator for the medical examiners office who will place a wreath on the tiny grave and then continue his relentless search for the boy's parents.
Once Vacant Lot
And somewhere, two other persons may step and think about their son, whose nude body wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a cardboard box was found in what was then a vacant lot in the Fox Chase section of the city, Feb. 25, 1957.
The investigation indicated he had been placed in the field, now occupied by residences, the day before.
Remington Bristow, 47, the investigator who refuses to let the case die, will stop by on his way to work to place the wreath by the small grave marker, which says simply:
Bless This Unknown Boy
February 25, 1957
The marker was paid for by homicide squad detectives and medical examiners investigators who placed it on the grave last year, the 10th anniversary of the death of the boy, who was white and about four or five tears of age.
Bristow said an autopsy was not able to determine the boy's death but it may have been malnutrition or injuries suffered in a fall.
Another possibility unearthed recently during one of Bristow's frequent reviews of the case is that the boy may have died from an unusual disease caused by an infected eye.
Bristow noted in going back over the autopsy report that it stated the boy's left eye showed up lemon yellow in color under ultra violet rays while the right eye was normal.
Theorizing that this indicated a possible disease or treatment by a physician, Bristow contacted Dr. Arthur H. Keeney, chief of professional services at Wills Eye Hospital here.
Dr. Keeney, emphasizing that it was conjecture, said there is a "very vicious" bacterial agent that causes a yellow pigment and sometimes is fatal to a child.
He theorized that if the child had been withdrawn suddenly by poverty-stricken parents from a hospital or other medical care, the disease could have killed the boy.
Both he and Bristow are hoping that this latest clue might give them a lead to the parents or possibly a nurse who remembers a seriously ill boy being suddenly removed from a hospital.
Bristow emphasized that he has not been searching for the parents for so many years to charge them with homicide. "All they face is a charge of unlawful disposition of a dead body," he said.
'Want a Name'
"And I want to place a name on that grave."
He said the care that was taken with the boy's body indicated his parents "did their best to prepare him for burial." He said they possibly were intending to bury the boy in the field where he was found when they were frightened off.
"This wasn't a sack thrown out on the side of the road," he said. "The parents had to show some love to go this far."
He said the boy, who had light brown hair, was bathed before he was placed in the box, his hair was cut and his nails trimmed.
Then his blue eyes were closed and his arms folded across his stomach "gently and carefully."
Bristow said the medical examiner's office had cases of children murdered, "their bodies dumped in rivers, or mutilated but nowhere is there a similar case of one disposing of a body in a more loving way."
'I Have Child Buried'
Bristow visits the youngster's grave often, "sometimes just to think" and "sometimes because I have a child buried in California. I can't go there so I go up to the boy."
He is constantly checking out any new leads or possibilities sometimes on his own time, and carries a death mask of the boy in the trunk of his car so he is always prepared.
Bristow said he frequently goes back over his investigation because "sometimes you get so close to a thing that you miss something."
Police have four cabinets full of investigative reports on the case and Bristow keeps a voluminous file at his home in his relentless and compassionate search for the boy's identity.
He said he has come to regard the little victim "as my boy."
"His parents only had him for about three to five years," he said "I've had him for 11."
2/23/72-Philadelphia Daily News
'The Fox Chase Boy': 15 Years of Mystery
By JOE CLARK
There's going to be a memorial service Friday at the medical examiner's office on University Ave.
It won't be much, maybe a few investigators and a couple of city officials. A few words of eulogy from Rem Bristow, a medical examiner investigator, should do it.
Bristow's eulogy will go something like this:
"On Feb. 25, 1957, a little boy died in Philadelphia. He was apparently loved, cared for by a family who did their best for him. Apparently it wasn't enough. Having little or no money to arrange for a proper burial, they bathed him, cut his hair, cleaned his finger nails, wrapped him in a blanket, placed him in a cardboard box and took him to a lonely place in Northeast Philadelphia where they carefully set down the box in preparation for a burial service."
"FOR SOME REASON they were frightened away before the burial. The next day the boy was found. He became known as 'The Fox Chase Boy" or "The Boy in the Box." Now 15 years have passed since that date. Today we remember the boy. He is still loved, not only by his unknown parents but by others who care..."
Bristow cares the most.
He was working the day that Case 863 came in. The day the box was found off Susquehanna rd. near Verree rd.
Bristow began his investigation routinely. But after thousands of leads and equal number of dead ends, Case 863 became an obsession.
THIS OBSESSION inspires Bristow to make periodic visits to the city cemetery and place a bouquet of flowers atop grave No. 191. It has a granite marker with a simple epitaph:
Bless This Unknown Boy
February 25, 1957
"I have met other people at the grave," said Bristow. "People who have been following the case through the years like myself. Sometimes I go and watch and hope his parents might come."
So Rem Bristow continues his quest to put a name on the stone of grave 191. And this Friday he'll say a few words about the boy, who was between 4 and 6 years of age, buried there.
He'll also unveil a lifelike bust of the boy as a memorial. The bust was created by Marilyn Hodes, a sculptor who lives in Merion, gave it to Bristow as a memento of his long involvement with the case.
Remington Bristow visits the unknown boy's grave - December 1971.