February 8, 2023

The parents of Philadelphia’s ‘Boy in the Box’ have finally been revealed, 65 years after he was found murdered, as a Pennsylvania construction magnate and a ‘beautiful, kind and quiet’ woman.

Earlier this month, the murdered Philadelphia boy known as ‘Boy in the Box’ finally had a headstone named after him after his identity was discovered in December.

A DNA preview revealed that the child victim of a brutal 1957 unsolved murder in the City of Brotherly Love was 4-year-old Joseph Augustus Zarelli.

Her parents, who never married, have been revealed as Augustus Zarelli and Mary Abel, who went by Betty, it reports. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Family members believe the child was put up for adoption through a Catholic organization shortly after he was born.

Speaking to the Inquirer, a relative of Abel’s described her as a “real beauty.”

According to newspaper reports, Zarelli was the son of Italian immigrants who grew up in West Philadelphia.

Construction magnate Augustus Zarelli passed away in 2014 at the age of 87. It is unclear if he ever knew of his son.

Relatives Referred To Mary 'Betsy' Abel, Pictured Here In Her High School Yearbook Photo As 'Beautiful', 'Kind' And 'Calm'

Relatives referred to Mary ‘Betsy’ Abel, pictured here in her high school yearbook photo as ‘beautiful’, ‘kind’ and ‘calm’

Police Composite Images Show The Image Of The Child Victim Found Stuffed In A Box On The Side Of The Road In Philadelphia In 1957.

Dna Has Allowed The Victim To Be Identified As Joseph Augustus Zarelli, Only 4 Years Old

Police composite images show the likeness of Zarelli, who was found beaten and stuffed in a box on the side of the road in Philadelphia in 1957.

Their son, Joseph Augustus Zarelli, was conceived in the spring of 1952. He was born on January 13, when his mother was 21 years old.

The relative who spoke to the Inquirer suggests that Abel gave up his child for adoption, as he had previously done with a previous child he gave birth to, a girl.

The Inquirer goes on to report that Abel graduated from Murrell Dobbins Career & Technical Education High School in North Philadelphia in 1949. A year later, he had a daughter who he gave up for adoption.

Her relative suggested that a ‘Catholic organization’ was behind the adoption. The family member rejected the suggestion that Abel might have had any connection to Joseph’s death.

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They said, ‘Betsy? No way in the world. There was no cruelty, no meanness or cruelty that swelled within her heart and soul.’

Abel married her manager at the movie theater where she worked, Joseph Plunkett. The couple had four children together.

Through their lawyer, Gus Zarelli’s family said the family had been “attacked on every possible social media outlet, suggesting the most horrible things, all of which are unfounded.”

Obituary Of Mary Plunkett Nee Abel, She Passed Away In 1991 After A Battle With Lung Cancer

Obituary of Mary Plunkett nee Abel, she passed away in 1991 after a battle with lung cancer

Joseph Augustus Zarelli, Formerly Known As Philadelphia'S 'Boy In The Box,' Was Given A Proper Headstone On Friday, On What Would Have Been His 70Th Birthday.

Joseph Augustus Zarelli, formerly known as Philadelphia’s ‘Boy in the Box,’ was given a proper headstone on Friday, on what would have been his 70th birthday.

Augusts Zarelli Pictured With His Second Wife, Who Passed Away In 2018

Augusts Zarelli pictured with his second wife, who passed away in 2018

Gus Zarelli'S Construction Business Was Prominent In Chester County.  When He Died In 2014, His Obituary Paid Tribute To His

Gus Zarelli’s construction business was prominent in Chester County. When he died in 2014, his obituary paid tribute to his “strength and character.”

His lawyer, Dan Bush, continued: “Each of his children is extraordinarily sympathetic to the death of this child and is horrified by the facts that are being discussed. However, until recently, they had never heard of any of this. They have never been shown anything linking their father or any member of their family to this.

Neither family was able to shed any light on how Zarelli and Abel met or what the exact nature of their relationship was.

Abel’s relative said it was possible the boy’s mother lived in West Philadelphia, where Zarelli lived, during a period in the 1950s.

Gus Zarelli’s construction business was prominent in Chester County. When he died in 2014, his obituary paid tribute to his ‘strength and character’.

The tribute mentions that he was survived by his wife of 55 years, who passed away in 2018, as well as four children and nine grandchildren.

Pictured: A Flyer Released By The Philadelphia Police Department Asking For Help In The Aftermath Of Zarelli'S Death.

Pictured: A flyer released by the Philadelphia Police Department asking for help in the aftermath of Zarelli’s death.

A 1998 wedding announcement for the son of Gus Zarelli, also named Augustus, a graduate of Drexel and Pennsylvania State University. He also worked in construction.

While Abel passed away in 1991 after a battle with lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The obituary for him described it as a “protracted illness”. He was survived by his children, grandchildren, as well as four sisters and one brother.

The obituary says that she predeceased her husband.

Members of the Zarelli family previously told CBS, anonymously, that they were shocked when investigators told them they were related to the “Kid in the Box.”

They said they will keep pressing for more leads as police seek to discover how Zarelli, whose body was found beaten and stuffed in a cardboard box in the city’s Fox Chase neighborhood, met his grisly end.

On January 13, a headstone dedication was held at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Mount Airy, where a headstone was installed in 1998 for Zarelli.

Zarelli'S Funeral Is Seen Above.  The Philadelphia Police Department Followed Many Leads Over The Decades Before Dna Tests Revealed His Identity.

Zarelli’s funeral is seen above. The Philadelphia Police Department followed many leads over the decades before DNA tests revealed his identity.

Mourners Gather For The 1957 Funeral Next To A Headstone Reading 'Heavenly Father Bless This Unknown Child'

Mourners gather for the 1957 funeral next to a headstone reading ‘Heavenly Father bless this unknown child’

City officials and residents were present at the ceremony, offering cards, flowers and balloons in memory of the slain four-year-old boy.

Murder rocked the city on February 25, 1957, when her body was found naked in the box, showing signs of severe malnutrition, along with bruising all over her body and fatal head trauma.

The box originally contained a bassinet, purchased at a JC Penney store in Upper Darby for $7.50.

A men’s newsboy cap in royal blue corduroy was found near the body, which police believe may have been linked to the killer. A flannel blanket, freshly laundered and patched, also covered the body and offered another clue.

As the case gripped Philadelphia and the nation, investigators made many requests for information from the public, but over the years, the boy’s identity remained a mystery.

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Detectives followed up and dismissed thousands of leads, including that he was a Hungarian refugee, a boy who had been kidnapped outside a Long Island supermarket in 1955, or that he was a variety of other missing children.

They investigated a couple of traveling carnival workers and a family that operated a nearby foster home, but dismissed them as suspects.

An Ohio woman claimed her mother bought the boy from his birth parents in 1954, kept him in the basement of her suburban Philadelphia home, and killed him in a fit of rage.

Authorities found her credible but were unable to substantiate her story: another dead end.

Police are believed to have used genealogical DNA research to identify the boy, searching public databases for distant relatives and reconstructing the family tree.

Authorities have said they had suspicions about who was responsible for Zarelli’s death, but said it would be “irresponsible” to divulge the information, or give the names of his birth parents because of his surviving relatives.

The boy’s body has been exhumed twice and in both cases DNA was extracted.

After DNA testing, a birth certificate finally revealed her age at the time of her death: she had turned four just a month before her body was found. He also named his biological father.

The boy’s remains had been moved from Philadelphia’s Potter’s Field to Ivy Hill Cemetery in 1998.

Last month, Ivy Hill workers expressed their gratitude that the victim’s headstone will soon bear the boy’s real name.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Dave Drysdale, secretary and treasurer of Ivy Hill Cemetery, told KYW-TV.

“Someday, there’s going to be a name on there and it’s going to be great,” Drysdale said. ‘It will be great.’

“I just wish the long-dead police officers and all the people involved were still here to see it because that was one of their goals, and a couple of them said, ‘I hope they live long enough to see a name put up.’ . there.”‘