Joseph Zarelli’s Biological Parents Identified by The Inquirer

A Yearbook photo and activities list for Betsy Abel
Image via The Philadelphia Inquirer
A Yearbook photo and activities list for Betsy Abel

The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting it has identified the biological parents of Joseph Augustus Zarelli, a 4-year-old known for 65 years only as “The Boy in the Box”.

Joseph’s body was found in a bassinet box in a Fox Chase lot in February, 1957, dead from blunt force trauma.

Family interviews and investigation sources identify Joseph’s mother as Mary “Betsy” Elizabeth Abel, writes Jason Nark, Wendy Ruderman and Max Marin for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Zarelli’s father was identified by the Inquirer as Augustus J. Zarelli, called Gus. He was a concrete-and-stone mason in West Philly.

The two conceived Joseph Zarelli in the spring of 1952. Betsy was 21 when Joseph was born Jan. 13, 1953.

There have been no credible allegations to indicate Gus Zarelli knew about Joseph’s birth, life or the harm he received, according to Dan Bush, an attorney representing Gus Zarelli’s four children.

A close relative said Betsy could have put Joseph up for adoption since she did that previously with a daughter.

The relative doubted Betsy could have been involved in the mistreatment or death of Joseph.

“Betsy? No way in the world,” the relative said. “There was no cruelty, no meanness or cruelty that swelled within her heart and soul.”

Read more about Joseph Zarelli, Betsy Abel and Gus Zarelli in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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