Oct 5, 2015 | By Alec

While prime time TV shows typically suggest otherwise, not all murders are solved after a night of reflection in the lab. Having nothing to go on but a brand of jeans possibly worn by the murderer or how tall he or she could possibly be, some cases lead to nothing and get branded as infamous ‘cold cases’ that very occasional are opened again when new technologies present themselves. That is exactly what 3D printing technology will now do for nine unsolved murders in Florida, with the oldest one dating back to 1967, as a team of Forensic scientists from the University of South Florida will 3D print skulls for facial reconstructions of the victims in the hope that it will create new leads.

These nine cases are almost all from the Tampa Bay Area and involve unknown victims. For example, a 30 to 45 year old white female was found murdered in Hernando County, Florida, in 1972, and police had very little to go on. Hopefully, the recreations could be used to identify the unfortunate woman.

The forensic team working on these reconstructions will start next week at the Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science at the University of South Florida, and the busts will be revealed and displayed afterwards. The entire process will be done in collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children(NCMEC) and the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

In total, cases for seven adults and two juveniles will be looked into, and the 3D printed skulls made by USF anthropologist and Director of IFAAS Erin Kimmerle will each be assigned to a forensic artist. These will recreate the facial features to the best of their ability. The bone structure will help, as they say much a about the facial features of a person. The 3D printed replica skulls have been made at the USF Visualization center, based on scans of the originals.

The idea for this interesting new approach was conceived by forensic artist Joe Mullins, who has previously made a lot of skull reconstructions and progression photos of missing children over the past fifteen years. But as real skulls were always under lock and key, this process has been arduous.The idea is that 3D printing will make the entire process easier and more lifelike. A clip of the creation of a 3D printed skull can be seen below, taken at an event in January 2015.

Mullins will lead the manufacturing of these new facial reconstructions, and the entire process will be thoroughly documented. In addition, this reopening of these cold cases will also coincide with a new round of skeletal analyses and chemical isotope testing, led by Dr. Kimmerle. The goal is clear: identify the victims, solve the crimes and give people closure. Anyone who thinks of information can provide (anonymous) tips at Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or online here.  

 

 

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