12-Year-Old Boy Found Dead in Dumpster

The tragic discovery of a 12-year-old boy’s body in a dumpster in West Philadelphia last week has left the community in shock. The boy, identified as Hezekiah Bernard, was found with a gunshot wound to the head, his body wrapped in plastic and discarded, according to police reports released on Thursday.

Authorities initially discovered the body of a young male on the morning of August 23 in a trash can at a public housing complex at 55th and Cherry Streets. However, it took nearly a week for them to identify the victim as a child. The identification was confirmed on Tuesday by Staff Inspector Ernest Ransom, head of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit.

The cause of Bernard’s death has been ruled a homicide. Ransom revealed during a news conference that Bernard’s remains were discovered by a Housing Authority sanitation worker. An autopsy indicated that the boy had been dead for 24 to 36 hours before his body was found. Bernard had not been reported missing in the weeks leading up to the discovery.

Bernard, affectionately known as “Hezzy” by friends and family, was a resident of North Philadelphia but had recently moved to the West Philadelphia area, according to his sister, Lovier Jolly. The family, overwhelmed by grief, declined to comment on Thursday.

The circumstances surrounding Bernard’s death remain unclear. Ransom stated that it was not known where the boy was killed, who was responsible, or the motive behind the crime. The body was discovered when a sanitation worker was returning a trash container to Cherry Street and it tipped over, revealing the body. Despite an autopsy, investigators were initially unable to identify the victim. Bernard’s relatives were able to confirm his identity after detectives distributed fliers in West Philadelphia.