Experts exhume ‘girl in the box’ & other children from graves in effort to solve decades-old cold cases

Law enforcement, along with a team of forensic experts, are exhuming bodies from graves in Philadelphia in an attempt to solve decades-old cold cases, some of which violent deaths.

ABC reports that a team led by a forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, are exhuming seven human bodies from the Potter’s Field Cemetery in Philadelphia, then transporting them to a Florida lab for analysis. They’re hoping to determine the exact age, gender, facial reconstruction, and ancestry of each of the seven victims.

“All these people who were buried were before the 90s,” Kimmerle told ABC. “They never had a DNA sample taken so we are getting those samples.”

The team is also hoping to find out the birthplace of the remains and origins via isotope analysis.

“We know people died in Philly but the question is where they born here or did they come from somewhere else?” Kimmerle added.

Kimmerle was joined by law enforcement officials for the project to help solve the crimes of the victims who died from foul play.  All victims were children or teens when they died. Two of the victims, according to CBS Philly, were victims of crime. One was shot, while the other was stabbed. Two more victims drowned.

“Two of them are drowning victims. They could be homicides,” Detective Tom McAndrew of the Pennsylvania State Police said. “There is a family out there who thinks they could be related to them.”

The team also exhumed a “girl in the box.” McAndrew said the little girl was black and around six years old when she died. Authorities found the child in 1962, inside a box in the Schuylkill River, murdered and dismembered. She’s been in an unmarked grave for 56 years.

“You’re dealing with victims who have long been in unmarked graves,” McAndrew said. “I really think every one of us has the right to have our name attached to us in death.”

Authorities are urging anyone with missing family members to submit an oral swab for potential DNA matches. Contact the Pennsylvania State Police for additional details.

The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo: Erin Kimmerle via AP/Chris O’Meara]