Birth Parents of 'Hatbox Baby' Identified

The December 1981 issue of Arizona Highways recounted the story of the "Hatbox Baby." | Arizona Highways Archives

A recent 10-part series in The Arizona Republic at least partly solved one of Arizona's most enduring mysteries.

The series focuses on the "Hatbox Baby" — a newborn girl purportedly left in a hatbox along a highway near Superior on Christmas Eve in 1931. A couple said they had car trouble and happened to find the baby there, and the baby then was adopted and grew up to be Sharon Elliott, who learned of the story at age 55 when her mother was on her deathbed.

Republic reporter John D'Anna, who has been writing about Elliott off and on for three decades, enlisted DNA analysis and the help of an amateur DNA genealogist to reconstruct Elliott's family tree. In doing so, he was able to identify Elliott's birth parents, a central part of the Hatbox Baby mystery.

Elliott died in December at age 86, but she learned who her birth parents were before she died.

Many questions remain in the case, but the entire series is an engrossing read.

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