USF forensic anthropologists hosted a week-long course culminating in the Art of Forensics event.
Forensic artists brought their focus
to 20 cold cases at a workshop, held Oct. 17 to 21, led by the USF Institute
for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science (IFAAS). Their goal was to
reconstruct facial profiles of decades-old missing persons that included nine
exhumed Jane and John Does from Kentucky, Pennsylvania and the Tampa Bay area.
“It’s stressful but it’s fascinating,” said Paloma Galzi,
one of the attendees of the workshop. “Every single one is different so every
face, every time is a new experience.”
Forensic artists reconstructed faces from cold case files during a
week-long workshop at the USF Department of Anthropology.
This is the second year of this special week-long course culminating
in the Art of Forensics event on Friday, Oct. 21, that revealed the completed
faces along with other details of each case provided by the team of forensic
The course is an opportunity to combine education with the
application of forensic science and modern technology and present the final
busts to a wider audience.
a neat opportunity to provide some education about this issue,” said Erin
Kimmerle, PhD, a forensic anthropologist
and associate professor at the USF College of Arts and Sciences, who helps rebuild
cold cases through strong collaboration with law enforcement and medical
More that 900 unidentified
individuals in Florida and as many as 50,000 nationwide are unidentified.
Erin Kimmerle, PhD, forensic anthropologist and associate
professor at the USF College of Arts and Sciences, addressed a roomful of law
enforcement officers, forensic scientists and media.
look for cases that need the most help. Those that don’t have DNA profiles on
file, those that need chemical isotope testing and facials and that would
really benefit from everything that science has to offer,” Dr. Kimmerle said.
Her team carefully reexamines
all remains, such as the bones, hair, and teeth and does approximations to
build “as complete a picture as possible.” A 3-D print is generated when a
skull is available, which then allows workshop artists to methodically overlay
clay to reconstruct facial details.
like to go crazy with artistic freedom but we can't. We have to keep it very
specific,” said workshop attendee Sergio Soto, a patrol sergeant with the Pasco
County Sheriff’s Office. Soto’s goal is to use the right amount of artistic
skill in conjunction with the forensic evidence.
use skulls reproduced with 3-D printing technology.
Mullins, course instructor and forensic imaging specialist at the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children, conceived the course eight years ago
to help alleviate some of the cold-case load using facial reconstruction art
classes. The class work was featured in a New
York Times article and led to the facial recognition by a family member, a
a combination of art and science,” said Mullins. “It’s kind of a balance when
you put the details on the face, because the skull tells you a lot of
skull, which provides the foundation for this type of reconstruction, was a
hurdle to get over to start the class since actual evidence can’t be used. “We
had to wait for technology and scanning and 3-D printing to catch up,” Mullins
year Mullins and Dr. Kimmerle decided to join their skills and tools together and
host the first Art of Forensics event. Nine cases were featured and one was
year’s event was held at the Tampa Bay History Center and hosted dozens of
forensic scientists, law enforcement officers, and families hoping to make a
Det. George Loydgren, from the Hernando County Sheriffs Office,
featured his case at the Art of Forensics event.
“To me it’s priceless if you can
solve one case, bring closure or resolution to one investigation and connect a
family member,” said George Loydgren, a cold case detective from the Hernando
County Sheriffs Office who’s Case #17 was featured at the event. Dr. Kimmerle
and her team conducted a chemical isotope test to estimate the geographic
origins from the remains of what is now confirmed to be a 40+ year-old black
and/or Native American male.
“We’re passionate about solving
real-world problems” said David Himmelgreen, chair of the Department of Anthropology
at USF, during his opening remarks.
“Our work today will continue to honor our missing and
unidentified individuals throughout this nation” said Mark A. Ober, J., state
attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida.
Speakers included leaders in law
enforcement who all share the need to advance this type of work that is
threatened by limited funding.
“This is an issue of great public
importance,” said Mark A. Ober, JD, state attorney of the 13th
Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. “Think about the power of your name, think
about the power of your identity, the very mention of your name reveals a
history of your existence, the very mention of your name broadcasts a panoramic
view of your life.”
Art of Forensics event gave family members the opportunity to see the final
Photos and story by Sandra C. Roa, University Communications & Marketing.