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Indiana State Police detail efforts to ID boy found dead in suitcase

SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — Sgt. Carey Huls with the Indiana State Police post at Sellersburg says the investigation into the boy’s body found in a suitcase has been tough.

It’s tough not only because of how young the child was, but also because authorities don’t know who he was.

Huls said that is why officers want people to keep sharing the picture of the suitcase he was found in. A photo from the state police showed the suitcase has an image of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign. That image is on both sides of the suitcase, police say.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who is also assisting in the case, told News 8 that state police area making all the right moves to identify the boy.

Troopers said on Sunday that someone on a mushroom hunt on Saturday night found the boy’s body. On Tuesday, state police revealed the boy was found in the 7000 block of East Holder Road. That’s about 2 miles northeast of New Pekin, a town of about 1,400. It’s about a 50-minute drive north of Louisville, Kentucky, along I-65, Indiana State Road 160, and rural county roads.

Huls said being unable to identify someone is rare for Indiana. But nationally, it’s more common than you think.

“So right now at the National Center, we’re assisting law enforcement on actually about 670 cases of identified deceased child,” said Carol Schweitzer, a supervisor with the forensics team at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Schweitzer said hundreds of cases being investigated date back several decades, and from 10 to 12 new cases are reported each year. That includes the boy’s body found in the suitcase in the woods in eastern Washington County.

“It’s tremendous to see the Indiana State Police respond and how many resources that they’ve already started to utilize and just apply to these efforts to identify this little boy,” the National Center supervisor said.

The state police sergeant said the latest effort, which was sharing the photo of the suitcase, is a very important step in the investigation.

“We need somebody who may say, ‘Hey, I saw that suitcase in the back seat of a car at the truck stop or at a rest area on the interstate the other day,’ or maybe they know somebody who fits the description of that little boy and they remember them having something like that,” Huls said.

Anyone with information for police was asked to call 888-437-6432.

State police say the child, a Black male, was around 5 years old, based on a dental examination. He was 4 feet tall with a slim build and a short haircut.

Huls says, unfortunately, the boy’s autopsy did not give police the clarity they were hoping for, but did tell them the boy had been in someone’s recent care.

“The autopsy did confirm that we’re talking about a death within the past week now. We’re not talking about skeletal remains or anything like that. The fact that the autopsy doesn’t reveal any cause of death and the fact that you know it’s only days old since that horrific event occurred, it says a lot as far as what we found. Obviously, someone cared for him. Whoever that was isn’t coming forward, for whatever reason. There’s more than one reason that could be,” the state police sergeant said.

Huls says police have received about 500 calls about the case. However, he wants to remind people to not call them about children already listed as missing around the country. He said they are already investigating those.