3D technology may solve cold cases

University of South Florida forensic anthropologists and forensic artists have come together to crack some Florida’s cold cases using 3D technology in the hopes of identifying the people from these cases.

Using images from cold case files, some decades old, forensic anthropologists and artists printed plastic molds of the skulls of unidentified bodies, then used clay to reconstruct faces that could be recognized by family and friends.

The molds were featured on Friday in the Art of Forensics event in its second year. In its premier last year, the event ended with two sisters recognizing one of the clay busts as their older sister who had been missing for almost 40 years.

The event designed by Joe Mullins, a forensic artist for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, presented 20 cases this year, including one of a baby. The infant, thought to be a girl, was found in a Gainesville pond in 2003. The cause of death is unknown.

The cold cases featured come from Florida and Pennsylvania, as well as Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. Those investigating these cases hope to close them through the use of modern DNA and isotope testing.

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell explained why its so important to piece together what happened to these people.

“Every single person presented here today was somebody’s baby. This is the why of what we do in our work.”

As for the cases that may have been murders, Dr. Erin Kimmerle, the director of USF’s Institute for Forensic Anthropology & Applied Science, spoke of finding justice for the victims.

“There’s a reason there are no statutes of limitations on murder. Stripping someone of their life is the ultimate crime.”

The people involved in these efforts agree that even if none of the cases are solved, it’s worth a try.

[Feature Photo: AP/Chris O’Meara]