• Boy in the Box: Memphis clue could solve 62-year-old murder mystery across the country

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    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A crime unsolved for more than 62 years, but could an answer live right here in Memphis?

    Veterans in law enforcement know about the case of Philadelphia's ‘Boy in the Box.'

    A murdered child placed in a box in 1957. 

    One author of murder mysteries believes he may have found a relative of the nameless victim right here in the bluff city.

    His theory involves the DNA of the murdered child and a Memphis man who could be a relative.

    Philadelphia police know about this potential lead, but will not say if they have taken it 

    The case has baffled Philadelphia police for 62 years.

    A little boy found in dead in a box, covered with a blanket and dumped on the side of the road in February 1957.

    Retired Memphis cold case detective Bill Ashton can only imagine the pressure to solve the case.

    "Everyone is going to be coming through, the top brass, the mayor's office, everyone is going to be asking what are you doing in this case. When are you going to solve this case," Ashton said.

    Ashton told FOX13 detectives in 1957 were at a disadvantage compared to the modern tool's law enforcement uses today. "Well they didn't have much more than a notebook and pen back then."

    Crime Author Lou Romano said, "I have written a number of articles and 14 novels."


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    Romano wrote the novel "You Think I am Dead" about the unsolved case. He believes he tracked down a possible relative of the victim living in Memphis.     

    Romano visited him and took a DNA sample. "He was nice enough to let me swab his mouth.  I did it with the gloves and the whole thing.  Then I sent it to the laboratory, " Romano said.

    How did he find this possible connection to a boy whose headstone reads America's Unknown Child?

    Romano said he tracked down parents of children born in Philadelphia about the same time as the victim. Contacted friends and relatives.

    A former landlord told him about one family that left suddenly when news of the murder broke. 

    "They left the apartment completely with furniture leftover with food, diapers and other things that were necessary for everyday life.  They just left in the middle of the night," Romano said.

    The family settled in Memphis.

    Romano noticed one similar genetic trait the victim had and so does the man in Memphis. "He has what they call a tick.  An ear that protrudes this way." 

    We specifically asked Romano if there is a connection to this family in Memphis, he responded, "I absolutely do, but I am not going to tell you it is a 100%.  What is 100%is the DNA."

    FOX13 emailed the Philadelphia Police Department four times, asking if they came to Memphis to collect their own DNA sample.

    The department has not responded.

    We spoke by phone twice to a relative of the man whose DNA Romano tested, but he never returned messages for an interview. 

    Even if there is a connection, Philadelphia police have been led to believe the boy was adopted by another family.

    If so, his biological parents would not be connected to the crime. 

    "The worst-case scenario is my theory is wrong but don't give up.  Find another theory," Romano said.

    Ashton said Philadelphia investigators need to consider all options, including Romano's theory of a possible relative to the victim living here in Memphis.

    The number of missing and exploited children in this country is staggering.

    The national center for missing and exploited children estimates there are about 800,000 children reported missing each year in this country.

    FOX13 found four cases from right here in the Mid-South.

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