Body of unknown boy exhumed, reburied in Bibb County

Published: Jun. 9, 2016 at 1:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2016 at 9:40 PM CDT
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(Source: Terri Brewer/WBRC)
(Source: Terri Brewer/WBRC)
The grave marker reads “Unknown. Killed in automobile accident March 27, 1961. Unknown in life...
The grave marker reads “Unknown. Killed in automobile accident March 27, 1961. Unknown in life but recognized in death.” Source: WBRC video

BIBB COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Crews in Bibb County have dug up a coffin that contains the body of an unknown teen boy.

The boy was buried in Centreville Memorial Cemetery more than 50 years ago.

On March 27, 1961, a young teen boy was hitchhiking and picked up along Highway 25 south of Wilton, near the Shelby-Bibb County line. Investigators say a short time later, the driver of the car lost control on River Bend Road in Centreville.

He went over the bridge and crashed into the river. He survived but the young boy did not.

"At that point and time, they were not able to find relatives of the boy. So the community came together and were able to bury him," said Scott Cox, Bibb County's Deputy Coroner.

Jim Oakley, a long time Centreville resident, was a publisher of the town's local newspaper and a pallbearer in the victim's 1961 funeral.

"This has been on my mind for 55 years. Every time I come by here and look at that grave and think about that day," Oakley said.

Oakley was there when officials buried the unknown boy the first time.

"We buried him right. Buried him in a nice vault, nice casket," Oakley said.

The young boy was estimated to be 14 to 17 years old. The boy told the driver he ran away after his parents separated.

He was wearing a Timex wrist watch and had a suitcase full of clothes and pack of Pall Mall cigarettes with a South Carolina tax stamp on it.

"It would be a great thing to actually put a name with this person," Cox said.

The teen's DNA will be sent to a lab for analysis at the University of North Texas. Investigators are hoping advancements in technology will help solve this decades-old case.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children is paying for DNA in the victim's remains to be tested to try and determine his identity.

"If he's got any living relatives that have been wondering all these years what happened to their brother, son, cousin? To actually reunite someone that's still living so they can finally put closure to something they've been wondering about all their life," Cox said.

"We'd just like to help reunite or let someone know this is their family, that they can bring closure to this case," he continued.

The unknown teen was buried again later in the day.

Authorities say the boy was approximately 5'6'' tall with light brown hair and blue eyes.

The boy also had a homemade tattoo with the words "R.Y. in love or "R + Y in love" on his left arm.

Anyone that can help identify the boy is asked to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

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