Listen Now

Season 4, Episode 5: The Boy in the Box: America's Unknown Child is Unknown No Longer

Season #4

Digging into a family search is no longer just for families tracing their own ancestry. It’s now a crime fighting tool, used by experts in the fast-growing field of forensic genealogy. I’m really going to be geeking out today because this stuff fascinates me. I’ve done quite a bit of research into my own family tree, and to see these techniques used to help solve crime is nothing short of amazing. 

Our book this week is “The Boy in the Box: The Unsolved Case of America’s Unknown Child” by David Stout and our guest is forensic genealogist Daphne Dennis. I’m sure most of you know a lot about the first big case to bring genetic genealogy to our attention, the solving of the Golden State Killer case. Today’s case didn’t catch a killer, but it did give a murdered child back his name after 65 long years.

Let’s talk about identity as it’s related to us in John 1:11-13.

“He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him,

He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born,

not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.”

DNA testing is so great for establishing our earthly identity, but for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, we have an additional identity. We are children of God. It’s not conditional on what we’ve done, or what others have done to us. All that matters is our faith. That should cause us to look at ourselves differently - and at other people. 

If this episode has you ready to be a different kind of P.I. - a Person of Impact, check out the show notes for ways to volunteer with the doe network or even your local law enforcement agency. Didn’t know you could do that? Different agencies will have their own guidelines about what volunteers are allowed to do, but many allow volunteers to check the jurisdiction for abandoned vehicles, do safety checks for vacationing homeowners, help compile crime statistics, assist with search and rescue operations, and maybe even cold case files. Give your local authorities a call and see what you might be able to do!


Check out my episode about the Vidoq Society - Season 1, Episode 50: The Murder Room


Visit my website to access more episodes, read my blog posts, or check out ways you can financially support the podcast so that together we can impact more people, more families, and more communities. If you would like to contact me about booking me as a speaker, or ask about my consulting and investigative services, please email me at [email protected]


Buy this week’s book

Connect with Daphne

Read more about identifying the Boy in the Box

Check out volunteer opportunities at the Doe Network

Link to buy my book, How to Kick Fear to the Curb