4-year-old boy's skeleton found in trash bag in Sept. remains unidentified, detectives ask for help

Discovered on Cleveland's west side in September

CLEVELAND - It has been nearly four months since the gruesome discovery of a four-year-old child’s skeleton behind a vacant home on the city’s west side.

Cleveland police detectives are pleading for the public’s help to identify the child, so they can find who is responsible.

The complete skeleton was found inside a black trash bag near the garage of a vacant home in the 12000 block of Longmead Ave. on September 20 by a landscaper who immediately called police.

It took several months for the medical examiner’s office to determine that the bones belonged to a boy about 4 years old. A time and cause of death are still pending.  

Dr. Linda Spurlock created the sketch of the child using his skull. Detectives are hoping the sketch will provide them with a break in the case.

The sketch shows a child with a broad face, strong chin and long, wavy hair.

“He was found with that hair. And you could see it was wavy, very dark brown,” Dr. Spurlock said. “Very fine, very soft. Kid hair.”

Dr. Spurlock said the age was straightforward and easy to determine, using the child’s teeth. It is more difficult to tell ethnicity and gender in a child, she said.

“When I saw he had those top six teeth, I said, 'I’ve got to do him smiling,'” Dr. Spurlock said, hoping that little detail will spark recognition.

Cleveland Police Detective Tim Entenok, who is working this case alongside his partner, has been a homicide detective for 17 years.

“This is the first case that I’ve had with a child skeletal remains. I’ve had a couple adults we couldn’t identify, but never a child,” Entenok said.

He said they have received several dozen tips in the case, but so far, none have led to the child’s identity.

“It’s frustrating because you would think someone would recognize that so-and-so had two kids and now they’re, all of a sudden, down to one. It’s hard to explain the sudden absence of a child like that,” Entenok said. “I mean, all of a sudden, a kid was just gone.”

Det. Entenok said they're looking into the possibility that the child is not from the Cleveland area and was dumped at the Longmead Ave. address because it is close to major highways. 

A DNA profile of the child has been created to help match him to possible siblings or parents.

Detectives have scoured local, state and national missing children databases with no luck, hoping someone sees something in the sketch that triggers recognition.

If you recognize the child, you can report it anonymously to detectives at 216-623-5464.

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