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12-year-old Philadelphia boy found dead in a dumpster with gunshot wound to the head in apparent murder

 September 2, 2023

A 12-year-old child was recently found lifeless inside a dumpster near a public housing section in West Philadelphia.

The boy, identified as Hezekiah Bernard but fondly known as "Hezzy" among close circles, was discovered on Aug. 23, as the Daily Mail reported.

A day prior to the gruesome discovery, a sanitation employee working for the city Housing Authority had collected materials from this dumpster close to Haddington Homes on Cherry Street and 55th Street.

The young boy's body was covered in a comforter, with plastic wrapped around his head, inside a shut trash bin, ABC News reported.

Official Statements and Ongoing Investigation

Ernest Ransom, staff inspector and head of the homicide division in the Philadelphia Police Department, confirmed Bernard's identity.

The death has been officially ruled as a homicide. An autopsy conducted on Aug. 24 revealed a bullet wound on the right side of Bernard's head, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office stated.

Ransom, addressing a press conference, mentioned that they estimate the boy had been deceased for about 24 to 36 hours before his discovery, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Ramos also mentioned that the boy had not been listed as missing. Moreover, he had been under the care of the Department of Human Services at the time of his demise.

Ransom noted that the plastic container collected on Aug. 22 remained overnight in the sanitation worker's truck, parked at the Housing Authority facility on the 5000 block of Haverford Avenue.

The next day, as the worker was heading back to the housing complex for another round of trash collection, the container tipped, revealing the tragic sight inside. Authorities were alerted immediately.

Ransom stated that the reasons for the boy's death, the location of the crime, and the identity of the perpetrator remain unclear.

He stated, "We feel like there's some sense of justice that needs to be served."

To aid the investigation, the police distributed flyers around the housing unit and broader West Philadelphia. Bernard's identity was confirmed almost a week after the grim discovery, with family members stepping forward.

Community Mourning the Loss

Hezzy had roots in North Philadelphia, but his sister, Lovier Jolly, said he had been residing in West Philadelphia lately.

On Thursday evening, hundreds gathered to honor Bernard's memory with a balloon release event.

The event was led by Pastor Aaron Campbell, the founder of LevelUp — a group devoted to offering mentorship, services, and a haven for area youth.

Campbell shared fond memories of Bernard, recalling his punctuality at their events every Tuesday and Thursday. He described him as a courteous youngster who "lit up a room," and someone who was invariably spirited. Campbell mentioned that he had recently shown interest in enrolling in the organization's job training program.