Richmond, VA Children Suffocate in Abandoned Ice Box, Aug 1953

Children Found Dead in Abandoned Ice Box

August 13 1953

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA. One of the consistent booby trap killers of children - the old abandoned ice box - yielded the bodies at four little missing Richmond boys today. Their deaths in an old 6-door ice chest in a store room at McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital brought the 2-day toll of such horrifying mishaps to nine.

In a deadly parallel, five children were found in a refrigerator at Proctor [Crawfordsville] Ark. last night.

The Richmond boys - three 7 years and one 5 years of age - were children of two hospital staff families. And as one of the Richmond area's most intensive searches got under way they lay dead in the airtight refrigerator in an unused hospital building only 60 feet or so away from the home of one boy's parents.

FRONT DOOR LOCKED. This building was one of the first lined for check when the hunt began Tuesday night after the children had been missing most of the day. But the main entrance was locked, the hospital reported, and the building was by-passed in favor of more likely hunting spots.

This morning with search planes and several helicopters droning over the southern suburban Richmond area and police and firemen along with Boy Scouts and other volunteer groups beating the woods near creek and quarry, Dr. J. Melvin Boykin, acting hospital manager, asked Engineer John Turner to make a closer check of the building. Dr. Boykin's son, Walter, one of the 7-year-olds, was one of the missing.

FEARS CONFIRMED. Within a few minutes Turner confirmed the Boykins' fears and those of Woodrow W. Blackstock, maintenance engineer, and his wife. The Boykins have two older daughters. The Blackstocks had only the three sons, Woodrow and Wilson, twins of 7, and George, 5.

The boys, all barefoot and in shorts and T-shirts, apparently answered the call to adventure and entered the storeroom building just a block away from the Boykin residence about midday Tuesday. They entered a side door - later discovered unlocked after the grim find - and shinnied over a partition enclosing the old ice chest. They used a metal footlocker and nails in the walls as coat hooks to help them scale the partition - or so it seemed to hospital authorities.

All of the bodies were crowded together in one of the compartments. The Boykin boy had beaten an elbow raw against the locked door.

The medical examiner's office said the children couldn't have lived as much as an hour in the hot airless chest. He said they all died sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday.