Best friends Anthony Tumolo and Jack Marino were up before sunrise on Saturday, October 15, 1966. The two 14-year-olds worked as paper boys for the Philadelphia Inquirer; after completing their paper routes, they met up and headed for a bakery on Torresdale Avenue in Philadelphia. At the bakery, they pooled their money and bought a dozen doughnuts to share. It was a pleasant fall day, and the boys spent most of the morning and afternoon riding their bikes around the city.
Around 3:00 pm, the two friends parted ways so they could return to their respective homes in time for dinner. As they did on most Saturdays, they agreed to meet back up as soon as they were finished eating so they could continue biking around the neighborhood. Jack pedaled off down Torresdale Avenue, while Anthony headed to his Princeton Avenue home.
A couple of hours later, Anthony finished his dinner and told his parents that he was going to ride his bike over to Jack’s house. He practically flew out of his front door, then hopped on his bike and raced off in the direction of his best friend’s home. He never made it there.
Jack had finished eating his dinner at almost the exact same time as Anthony. He told his parents that he was going to go over to Anthony’s house, and quickly pedaled off. It took him less than 10 minutes to make his way to the brick duplex on Princeton Street, where he hopped off his bicycle and knocked on the door. Anthony’s mother answered the door and told Jack that he had just missed Anthony. When he learned that Anthony had intended to go to his house, Jack got back on his bike and raced home.
Jack expected to cross paths with Anthony as he made his way back to his house, but he saw no sign of his friend. He went inside and checked with his parents, but they told him that Anthony hadn’t come looking for him while he was gone.
Jack waited for Anthony in his front yard for a while, but he never came. Jack wasn’t too worried because he thought it would be easy to find his best friend. After getting back on his bike, he went to all the places he and Anthony would usually go while riding, but Anthony wasn’t at any of the spots he stopped at. He rode his bike around the city until it got dark, at which point he went home for the night.
Anthony didn’t come home that night, but his parents weren’t too worried. Anthony almost never stayed the night somewhere without calling them first, but it had happened before. They thought he had decided to spend the night at Jack’s house, which was something he often did on the weekends.
Parents of Anthony didn’t figure out something was wrong until the next morning. That morning, Anthony didn’t show up for his paper route, and a few of his customers called the Tumolo home to find out why their paper hadn’t arrived yet. Anthony had never left his paper route unfinished; he always made sure to finish it early. His mother quickly called Jack’s house, but Jack’s mother told her that Anthony wasn’t there the night before. When Jack got home, he was by himself, and when he left for his paper route that morning, he was by himself too.
Anthony had been missing since the afternoon before, and no one had seen him since then. His parents called the Philadelphia Police Department and reported him missing. Even though a police officer was sent to the house to take a report of a missing person, the police did not do much to help find Anthony. The police thought that Anthony had just run away from home and would come back when he was ready, which is what they thought about almost all missing teens.
Jack wouldn’t believe Anthony was running away. Because they were so close, the two boys had been best friends for years. They did everything together, and Jack was sure Anthony would have told him if he was thinking about leaving. None of the adults would listen to Jack when he said that Anthony must not have made it home because something had to have happened.
Anthony was one of nine kids. He got along well with his parents and siblings and had never said he was unhappy at home. He did, however, have a fight with his parents the day before he disappeared, and police were sure that this fight was what caused him to disappear. Anthony was having a hard time in school, and his parents thought that his paper route was to blame. Their plan was for Anthony to quit his job as a delivery boy, but the teen refused. When Anthony went missing, the problem still hadn’t been fixed.
It had been five days since Anthony went missing. Two of his eighth-grade classmates at Our Lady of Consolation showed up late to school and told one of the nuns that they had seen Anthony on their way to school. They had tried to catch up with him, but he was able to get away. It was because they were trying to find their missing classmate that they forgot they were late for school. The nun understood their reason and let them go to class without punishing them. The police were also told that Anthony had been seen in the area.
Police believed the report that Anthony had been seen as proof that he had indeed run away on his own. They didn’t see a reason for anyone to keep looking for him since he seemed to be safe and not hurt. It was said that he would likely still be mad about the fight and would come home when he was ready.
Anthony’s parents knew that he had run away, but they thought that he would come home in the end. They were so sure of this that they didn’t even bother to call the teenager’s family to let them know he or she was missing. Joanie, Anthony’s older sister, was at Penn State in college when her brother disappeared. He had been gone for 10 days before her parents called her to see if she had heard from him. She hadn’t, and she was worried about his safety right away.
It had been months since Anthony had last been heard from. He wasn’t seen or heard from again, either, which made his parents worry that something bad had happened to him. No one thought he would have stayed away from home for so long on his own; he had left his bedroom with an uncashed paycheck and all of his savings, and he hadn’t taken any of his things with him. It looked less likely that the runaway theory was true.
Jack was sure that Anthony wasn’t running away. He thought that Anthony had been hit by a car while riding his bike and that the person who hit him had left his body somewhere out of fear. When Anthony went missing, a nearby stretch of Interstate 95 was being built, and Jack couldn’t get rid of the feeling that his best friend was buried there.
Jack and Anthony had talked about riding their bikes to Hillcrest Dairy after dinner to get ice cream on the day Anthony went missing. Jack finally thought it probably wasn’t a good idea because they would have to ride their bikes for a long time and the road was winding and not well lit. Anthony might have decided to ride to the dairy by himself after not being able to find Jack. He could have been hit by a car on the way home after dark.
Anthony’s mother refused to believe that her son might be dead. She clung to the hope that he had been in an accident that had caused him to lose his memory; she had visions of him wandering around the city, unable to remember his name or address. His father also thought that Anthony had been in an accident, but doubted that he had survived. Although he didn’t speak of the disappearance much, it seemed to eat away at him. He died just two years after his son went missing; his official cause of death was cancer, but daughter Joanie believed that his demise was hastened by a broken heart.
Joanie was less optimistic about her younger brother’s fate; she feared that Anthony had been abducted and killed by a child predator. Although he was 14, Anthony was small for his age, standing only a little over 5 feet tall and weighing around 110 pounds. His small stature and boyish good looks would have made him an attractive target for someone out trolling for young boys.
Jack Marino eventually became a Philadelphia police officer, but he never forgot about his childhood best friend. He spent countless hours revisiting the places he and Anthony frequented, trying in vain to determine what might have happened to him. At one point, he ran into an old classmate, one of the boys who had reported seeing Anthony shortly after he disappeared. The classmate admitted that the sighting had never taken place. He and a friend were late for class because they had been smoking, and they made up the story about seeing Anthony so they wouldn’t get in trouble.
One has to wonder if the police would have put more effort into finding Anthony if they had known that the reported sighting hadn’t happened, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Missing teenagers have never been a high priority for law enforcement.
Anthony’s mother died in 2001; she never let go of her belief that Anthony was still alive somewhere. Joanie has always believed that her brother died shortly after he went missing. She has never stopped hoping for closure; she would like to be able to give Anthony a proper burial alongside his parents.
Anthony Tumolo was 14 years old when he went missing in 1966. He has brown eyes and black hair, and at the time of his disappearance he was 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 110 pounds. He was last seen wearing black jeans, a blue corduroy shirt, a navy-blue wool coat with a red lining, black socks, and black shoes. If you have any information about Anthony, please contact the Philadelphia Police Department at 215–685–3257.