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Vidocq Society

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NEWS
February 13, 1991 | By Ron Avery, Daily News Staff Writer
It looks like any businessmen's luncheon until you listen in on the table conversation. "In Australia, a lot of times homicide victims are thrown in a river with crocodiles, hoping the crocs will devour the evidence," says one man over dessert to a tablemate. "But there's always something left, a piece of the torso. And the police there have these experts on crocodile attacks that can tell you everything - whether the croc attacked from the left side, the right side. " The buzz of table conversation subsides, as all 40 diners turn full attention to the guest speaker, who begins his address by saying: "This was a homicide where death was caused by two blows from a blunt instrument.
NEWS
August 5, 2010 | By Dianna Marder, Inquirer Staff Writer
A 45-year-old woman is found beaten and strangled in the bathtub of her California home in 1998. Detectives find blood samples, hair, a possible suspect (her estranged husband?), even a motive (a $1.5 million inheritance?). But with no arrests by 2003, it is officially a cold case. So in June, seven years later, Det. Erik Longoria of tiny Indio, Calif., seeks help in Philadelphia - not from the police but from the Vidocq Society. Millions tune in for Cold Case and America's Most Wanted , but few know Philadelphia is home to the real thing - an international society of forensic experts who consult, free of charge, on baffling murders.
NEWS
June 25, 1998 | by Jaclyn D'Auria, For the Daily News
You're a Gloucester County homicide investigator. You have the mysterious death of a 22-year-old Rowan University student on your hands. And your trail goes nowhere. No suspects. No motives. No leads. Gloucester County Prosecutor Andrew Yurick has called the Lynn Darren homicide case "one of the toughest" in his career. Now he has turned to the Philadelphia-based Vidocq Society for assistance. "There's no clear evidence trail in this case," Yurick said. "'There's no simple, easy solution to this case.
NEWS
January 12, 2003 | By Marc Schogol INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Six months after getting a possible new lead, investigators concede the "boy in the box" case is still an unsolved mystery. In June, authorities said they had gotten a tip that they hoped might produce a break in the 46-year-old case of an unidentified boy, age 4 to 6, whose nude and battered body was found in a cardboard carton in Northeast Philadelphia. Investigators and retired investigators who have made this haunting case their life's work flew to Cincinnati to interview a woman who said she knew for certain that the boy was killed by a member of a wealthy Lower Merion Township household after the youngster made a mess by vomiting.
NEWS
October 30, 2015 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Joseph F. McGillen, 89, of Philadelphia, a retired investigator for the city Medical Examiner's Office, died Thursday, Oct. 22, of congestive heart failure at Nazareth Hospital. Mr. McGillen worked on the famous "Boy in the Box" murder case a year after joining the Medical Examiner's Office in 1956. He ran down tips phoned in by the public and analyzed clues found near where a student discovered the battered remains of the 4- to 6-year-old in a cardboard crate designed for a bassinet in February 1957.
NEWS
November 4, 1998 | by Nicole Weisensee, Daily News Staff Writer
For 41 years, the boy in the box has rested in his pauper's grave - unidentified, his murder unsolved. Yesterday, in a final attempt to find his killer, police removed him from his solitary grave in a potter's field in Northeast Philadelphia. They took his body to the medical examiner's office, where technicians will try to extract DNA from his remains. They hope such evidence will help identify him and eventually help nail his killer. "It's hard but it's been done before," said Lt. Ken Coluzzi, head of the special investigations unit at the police Homicide Division.
NEWS
February 27, 2007 | By Joseph A. Gambardello INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Deanna Gannon came to a snow-covered Ivy Hill Cemetery in the gray morning chill yesterday with a single white rose for a boy more loved in death than he was in life. He has no name, but Gannon - like many of her generation who grew up in Philadelphia in the 1950s - remembers his face. And so she joined with a dwindling band of retired investigators in marking the 50th anniversary of what has become known as the Boy in the Box case. There was Elmer Palmer, the police officer who found the boy's bruised and undernourished body in a bassinet box on a field Feb. 26, 1957, in a then-rural part of Fox Chase.
NEWS
October 22, 2010 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
After Margaret Davis' teenage daughter disappeared from a Kensington street corner one autumn night in 1979, Davis vowed never to move away or change her phone number, in hopes that one day her child would return. But 16-year-old Jacqueline Gough never came home, and when her body turned up two years later in the basement of an abandoned house, investigators couldn't figure out who she was. Unaware that her daughter had been found, Davis kept her vigil. It was noted forensic sculptor Frank Bender who eventually brought Davis peace.
NEWS
March 15, 1992 | By Jeff Gammage, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
IRS employee Heidi Berg was shot six times in the back while jogging near her Virginia home in 1984. Donna Friedman, a pregnant doctor's wife from Montgomery County, was found dead in the trunk of her Oldsmobile Cutlass the same year. And on a snowy night in 1972, the bodies of Bryce Durham, his wife and teenage son were discovered with their heads hanging into the overflowing bathtub of their North Carolina home. These homicides, separated by time, distance and circumstance, have three things in common: They're old. They're unsolved.
NEWS
November 12, 1998 | by Marisol Bello, Daily News Staff Writer
Everybody wants to claim the unknown boy in the box. The frail, blond boy's battered and nude body was found in a trash-strewn lot in the Northeast.No one knows his age or where he's from. Yesterday, probers who've been trying to discover the boy's identity tried to give him back some dignity by moving his remains from his pauper's grave to a special place at the entrance of Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook. But residents of the Parkwood section of the Far Northeast, where the boy's body had rested in Potter's Field for 41 years, are upset that the body was moved.
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NEWS
October 30, 2015 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Joseph F. McGillen, 89, of Philadelphia, a retired investigator for the city Medical Examiner's Office, died Thursday, Oct. 22, of congestive heart failure at Nazareth Hospital. Mr. McGillen worked on the famous "Boy in the Box" murder case a year after joining the Medical Examiner's Office in 1956. He ran down tips phoned in by the public and analyzed clues found near where a student discovered the battered remains of the 4- to 6-year-old in a cardboard crate designed for a bassinet in February 1957.
NEWS
March 13, 2011 | By Michael Klein, Inquirer Columnist
Philly-based forensic sculptor Frank Bender , who is famed for helping detectives ID victims and solve cold cases, is the subject of a documentary now in production. Bender and filmmaker Karen Mintz acknowledge that the film is a race against time. In the fall of 2009, doctors told Bender that his pleural mesothelioma was terminal. Mintz wants him to be able to see the film. Mintz - who met Bender several years ago and followed him as he created his final work, the bust of a woman whose body was found in 2001 near Easton, Pa. - is seeking funding to complete the project.
NEWS
January 14, 2011 | By JOHN F. MORRISON, morrisj@phillynews.com 215-854-5573
Elmer Palmer always had this hope - that the "Boy in the Box," whose battered visage he was the first officer to see one frigid day in 1957, would be identified before he died. It didn't happen. Despite more than 50 years of intensive investigative work by dedicated detectives, the murdered boy had not been identified when Palmer died on Monday. He was 83 and lived in the Northeast. "It always bothered him," said his son, James Palmer. Elmer was a cop with young children of his own when he was assigned on Feb. 25, 1957, to check out the report of what was first said to be a doll in a box off Susquehanna Road.
NEWS
October 22, 2010 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
After Margaret Davis' teenage daughter disappeared from a Kensington street corner one autumn night in 1979, Davis vowed never to move away or change her phone number, in hopes that one day her child would return. But 16-year-old Jacqueline Gough never came home, and when her body turned up two years later in the basement of an abandoned house, investigators couldn't figure out who she was. Unaware that her daughter had been found, Davis kept her vigil. It was noted forensic sculptor Frank Bender who eventually brought Davis peace.
NEWS
September 8, 2010 | By Monica Yant Kinney, Inquirer Columnist
Frank Bender lives. This I consider news, since the forensic sculptor wasn't supposed to see summer, let alone gallop into the fall. "Come check out my tan," he teased Tuesday, which seemed as good a reason as any to ditch my leftovers and buy us both lunch from Cafe Lutecia. When Bender greeted me at his South Street home/studio, he looked a bit like Vladimir Lenin in spray bronzer. "I still go up the stairs and run to catch the bus," quipped the energetic Dead Man Walking.
NEWS
August 5, 2010 | By Dianna Marder, Inquirer Staff Writer
A 45-year-old woman is found beaten and strangled in the bathtub of her California home in 1998. Detectives find blood samples, hair, a possible suspect (her estranged husband?), even a motive (a $1.5 million inheritance?). But with no arrests by 2003, it is officially a cold case. So in June, seven years later, Det. Erik Longoria of tiny Indio, Calif., seeks help in Philadelphia - not from the police but from the Vidocq Society. Millions tune in for Cold Case and America's Most Wanted , but few know Philadelphia is home to the real thing - an international society of forensic experts who consult, free of charge, on baffling murders.
NEWS
November 8, 2009 | By Monica Yant Kinney, Inquirer Columnist
Frank Bender lives for the dead. For 30 years, the forensic sculptor has peered into skulls and seen souls. With no scientific training and no college education, he became an internationally heralded "recomposer of the decomposed," an artist who solves crimes while providing comfort to strangers. His first commission, in 1977, called for him to re-create the image of a woman shot three times in the head and dumped near Philadelphia International Airport. Because of Bender's tender rendering from her skeletal remains, the victim was identified as a missing woman from Phoenix, Anna Duval.
NEWS
February 27, 2007 | By Joseph A. Gambardello INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Deanna Gannon came to a snow-covered Ivy Hill Cemetery in the gray morning chill yesterday with a single white rose for a boy more loved in death than he was in life. He has no name, but Gannon - like many of her generation who grew up in Philadelphia in the 1950s - remembers his face. And so she joined with a dwindling band of retired investigators in marking the 50th anniversary of what has become known as the Boy in the Box case. There was Elmer Palmer, the police officer who found the boy's bruised and undernourished body in a bassinet box on a field Feb. 26, 1957, in a then-rural part of Fox Chase.
NEWS
November 1, 2003 | By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Just in time for Halloween, Bill Bass brought his insatiable fascination with death here yesterday. Bass, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee, has made a career out of studying dead people. Yesterday in Wilmington, he shared some of his best-learned lessons with Delaware medical examiners and Philadelphia homicide detectives. Today in Philadelphia, Bass, 75, will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Vidocq Society, a group of active and retired crime experts who try to solve long-unsolved cases.
NEWS
January 12, 2003 | By Marc Schogol INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Six months after getting a possible new lead, investigators concede the "boy in the box" case is still an unsolved mystery. In June, authorities said they had gotten a tip that they hoped might produce a break in the 46-year-old case of an unidentified boy, age 4 to 6, whose nude and battered body was found in a cardboard carton in Northeast Philadelphia. Investigators and retired investigators who have made this haunting case their life's work flew to Cincinnati to interview a woman who said she knew for certain that the boy was killed by a member of a wealthy Lower Merion Township household after the youngster made a mess by vomiting.
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