Johnny Doe lovingly laid to rest, but still needs his real name

Published10/20/2007 11:56 PM

Somber statistics suggest that some 30,000 children under the age of 5 were buried throughout the world on Monday.

One of them was Johnny Doe of DuPage County.


Only Johnny was not mourned on Monday.

At least, not by his parents. They weren't among the 100 goodhearted people who gave Johnny a sad, loving farewell at Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton.

You see, Johnny's parents, whomever they are, said their good-byes to him long ago, if they even found it in their hearts to do that. Which would be hard to believe, considering the callous way they disposed of him.

Johnny's decomposed remains were found on Oct. 8, 2005 in the area of Route 59 and I-88 near Naperville. His body was in blue laundry bag. He was probably three or four years old when he died.

Or maybe his parents didn't heartlessly dump him in that woody area. Maybe to this day, they wonder whatever happened to their baby. Perhaps he was abducted and murdered. But if so, there were no obvious signs of violence on what remained of his body. Indeed, the possibility of an accidental or natural death hasn't been ruled out.

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But whoever tossed this little boy into the woods like a sack of garbage clearly had to have no respect for his life when they had him suffer this indignity in death.

Johnny is still unidentified and unclaimed. Yet he did not go out of this world unloved. Strangers and law enforcement officials gave him a name, arranged to have him buried and fondly said goodbye to him at a touching funeral service. DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba, whose office is leading the effort to find out who belongs to Johnny, was a pallbearer.

In one grim way, Johnny is not alone. As of 2004, there were almost 13,500 people in America whose bodies remain unidentified, according to the report, "Medical Examiners and Coroners' Offices, 2004". So sad. No one to mourn them. No one to erect monuments for them. Just a number on a toe-tag to mark their lives.

Zaruba and others have been working hard at encouraging someone to step forward to identify Johnny Doe, to give him back his real name.

I'd suggest it might be a good idea to have a "Do You Know Johnny Doe" campaign in which volunteers, with fliers in hand that have artist sketches of Johnny's face and other helpful descriptive information, fan out throughout the county asking, have you ever seen this little boy? Go to malls, grocery stores, community centers, day care centers, hospitals, medical facilities, child health care clinics, social service agencies, child service referral agencies, beauty parlors, park districts, festivals.


Johnny is thought to be East Asian/American Indian, derived from Hispanic or tribal Indian heritage. So take the fliers into the Hispanic community.

Of course, this campaign would only be helpful if Johnny was not left here by someone passing through but actually lived here. Even then, it would probably be a long shot that someone would recognize him.

But it's worth a try. Especially if someone did say, "I think I remember that little boy."

He's been forgotten for too long.

Except by those who found him in that woods, exchanged that laundry sack for a place to rest in peace and gave Johnny love in death I suspect he didn't have in life.

Now if someone will only give this toddler back his real name.

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