Police: 12-year-old found in a West Philadelphia dumpster was killed by gunshot to back of the head

Police say 12-year-old Hezekiah Bernard died roughly 24 to 36 hours before his body was found in a West Philly dumpster last week.

Officer Ernest Ransom speaks at a press conference

Ernest Ransom is the Commanding Officer for Philadelphia Police's Homicide Unit. He took questions from the media on 15th and Callowhill streets during a press conference Thursday. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Philadelphia Police have identified Hezekiah Bernard as the 12-year-old boy found in a dumpster last week.

Investigators announced Thursday an autopsy confirmed he was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. Bernard’s body was discovered after a dumpster overturned on August 23.

“We need the help of the public to identify the offenders in this investigation,” said Ernest Random, commanding officer for the Philadelphia Police Department’s homicide unit. “Again, Mr. Bernard was 12 years old. He was brutally, brutally killed, and placed in a trash can. The focus of this investigation is the swift apprehension of those involved in this business.”

According to investigators, the trash container was picked up by a Philadelphia Housing Authority sanitation worker on August 22 and was taken by truck to a PHA facility in the 5000 block of Haverford Avenue where it was housed overnight.

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On August 23, the same PHA employee then took the container to Cherry Street to pick up more trash. Investigators said that’s when the container overturned, and Bernard’s body was found with a plastic wrap wrapped around his head.

Investigators believe Bernard died 24 to 36 hours before his body was discovered. Police said he was under the care of the Department of Human Services.

“We feel like there’s some sense of justice that needs to be served and we push hard to find these individuals involved in this killing,” Ransom said.

Authorities have not publicly identified any suspects. An investigation is ongoing.

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If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources online.

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