Unknown Boy00000000

An unknown boy, buried in a Bibb County cemetery since 1961, was brought to the surface once more today.

He died a hitchhiker without an identity after a car crash, but thanks to new technology there’s a chance his family — if he has any — may finally know what happened. His current grave is marked with his photo, his date of death and the word “Unknown,” but several residents in Centreville are praying this mystery will soon be solved.

Bibb County officials collected samples from inside his coffin, and those samples are going to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children for cutting-edge DNA testing.

Centreville resident and longtime journalist Jim Oakley has a special attachment to the unnamed boy and was there today for the exhumation.

In fact, Oakley was a volunteer pallbearer at the original funeral service back in 1961.

The hitchhiking teen lost his life after the car he’d just entered crashed into a river.

“He had no ID on him at all,” Oakley said.

He never told the driver where he’d been or where he was heading.

“He had a pack of cigarettes that had a South Carolina tax stamp, and he had some initials on him arm,” Oakley said. “Looked like he’d done it himself.”

Inside the boy’s wallet was a girl’s picture, with the words, “Think of me always and remember how we used to go places together.”

After his death, the young hitchhiker was taken to a local funeral home, and Oakley was there to cover it.

“On that slab, it was like he was asleep,” he said. The teen was estimated as being between 13 and 16 years old. He died of a broken neck.

“I stood up on the slab above him,” Oakley said. “His body was here, and I bent over and made some head shots.”

Those head shots, one of which was altered to show what the teen may have looked like with his eyes open, were widely published, in hopes of finding his family, or anyone who may have known him. His body stayed at the Rocko Funeral Home Chapel for days. Hundreds came from all around after they saw the reports, most of them curious about the mysterious story.

But there was one visitor who came several times, all alone, and no one knows why.

“She was grey-headed,” Oakley said. “A little heavyset, well in her 60s. … Stood there and looked at that body for a good long while. A little bit longer than the average person did. And then she left.”

She returned a second day, staying again, but before anyone could ask who she was or if she knew the boy’s identity, she vanished. No one heard from her again.

Now, more than half a century later, new technology may reveal the answer. DNA from the boy’s bones will run through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s massive database.

Bibb County Deputy Coroner Scott Cox said it’s their best chance.

“Thirty, 40 years ago they were working with DNA,” he said. “But their capabilities then compared to now is so much further. Hopefully somewhere down the road, some of that will match up with someone, and we can give this person their name back.”



Categories: Community, Local News