A 12-year-old boy has been found dead in a dumpster with a gunshot wound to the head near a public housing unit in West Philadelphia.
Hezekiah Bernard, known by friends and family as ‘Hezzy,’ was identified by the Philadelphia Police department’s homicide unit on Thursday.
His death was ruled a homicide, according to staff inspector Ernest Ransom and head of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit.
The gruesome discovery was made on August 23, the day after a sanitation worker with the city Housing Authority collected items from the dumpster at Cherry Street and 55th Street near the Haddington Homes in the Philadelphia neighborhood.
The boy had been found in a closed plastic trash container. He had plastic wrap on his head and a comforter over him, Ransom said, ABC News reported.
A search is underway for any suspects in the case.
An August 24 autopsy revealed that the child had a gunshot wound on the right side of his head, according to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.
At a news conference on Thursday, Ramos said investigators believed the boy was dead between 24 and 36 hours before he was discovered, The Philadelphia Inqurier reported.
He also said the boy had not been reported missing.At the time of his death, the boy had been in custody with the Department of Human Services.
Ransom said the plastic container that was first picked up on August 22 sat in the sanitation worker’s truck overnight at the Housing Authority facility at the 5000 block of Haverford Avenue.
The following day, when the driver was driving back to the housing complex to collect more trash, the plastic container that had been sitting in the truck from the prior day, ‘overturned and the remains of a male were observed inside that container,’ he said, in part.
After the disturbing discovery, the sanitation worker immediately contacted police.
Ransom said it is not clear why the boy was killed, where the crime was committed, and by whom.
‘We feel like there’s some sense of justice that needs to be served,’ he said at the presser.
Detectives had distributed fliers at the housing unit and the West Philly neighborhood.
The boy wasn’t positively identified until Tuesday, nearly a week after his remains were discovered, by family members who reached out to the Medical Examiner’s Office and were able to confirm that Bernard was the victim.
Police continue to search for the suspect(s) and are asking the public for their help.