PHILADELPHIA (TCD) -- Police are investigating a homicide after a sanitation worker discovered a 12-year-old boy’s body inside a trash can with a gunshot wound to the head.
In a press briefing Aug. 31, Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Ernest Ransom said a Philadelphia Housing Authority sanitation worker went to the 5500 block of Cherry Street on Aug. 22 at around 8 a.m. to collect trash. The worker picked up a container and put it inside the truck, then drove the truck back to a Philadelphia Housing Authority, where it was left overnight. The worker used the same truck the next morning and returned to the 5500 block of Cherry Street to pick up additional trash.
At some point during the commute, the plastic container fell. When the worker went to pick it up, he found the body of a male with plastic wrapped around his head and his body enclosed in a comforter. The worker called police and officials arrived at the scene, where paramedics officially declared the victim deceased.
Ransom said the medical examiner conducted an autopsy Aug. 24 and determined the male suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. He was most likely deceased for 24 to 36 hours before he was found. Investigators were unable to immediately identify the victim.
On Aug. 29, detectives handed out flyers in the area and described the clothes he was wearing when he was found. Later that day, family members contacted the medical examiner’s office, who then shared photos of the boy. Relatives positively identified him as 12-year-old Hezekiah Bernard.
Investigators do not know where Bernard was shot and killed. Ransom said, "He was brutally killed and placed in a trash can."
Detectives "don’t know much about [Bernard’s] life," but Ransom explained he was in the care of DHS.