The Trail Went Cold – Episode 51 – The Hatbox Baby

Christmas Eve 1931. Superior, Arizona. While driving through the desert, a couple named Ed and Julia Stewart experience a flat tire and pull over to a remote spot. They soon discover an abandoned newborn baby girl inside a hatbox and turn her over to the authorities. While the story of the “Hatbox Baby” becomes a media sensation, the child’s family cannot be located, so she is adopted out to a couple, whose identities are kept secret from the public. Over 50 years later, a woman named Sharon Elliott is shocked to learn that she was the mysterious Hatbox Baby. Even though Sharon attempts to uncover the truth about her past and finds some promising leads, she does not receive any conclusive answers about the identity of her family or how she wound up in the desert. Was the discovery of the Hatbox Baby a genuine Christmas miracle, or an elaborate set-up orchestrated to protect someone? For our final Christmas-themed of “The Trail Went Cold”, we will be shying away from violent crime and chronicling a much more unique mystery than usual. Special thanks to listener Jonathan Burroughs for providing the opening narration for today’s episode.

Also, a big thanks to Esther Gamez for providing us with another terrific piece of cover art for this episode. Be sure to check out Esther’s Facebook and Tumblr pages to see more of her artwork.

We would like to thank Sock Club for sponsoring the Trail Went Cold. To earn 15 % off your next order of socks, visit and use the discount code “cold”.

Additional Reading:

Spokane Chronicle (Dec. 26, 1988)

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Click here to listen to the podcast on Stitcher.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on Google Play Music.

The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.