Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Eye Witness Case Study

This is  not necessarily a composite success but an answer to a question I received recently about eye witnesses.  It's true that some eye witness accounts can be skewed and unrelieable but there are many things to help people lock in a memory.

I was asked to work with a victim who had been attacked.  She was living in an apartment alone and was probably being cased by a sexual predator.

He had taken off the screen windows of her apartment and forced open a sliding window.  He confronted her while she lay in bed and commanded her to "Shut up and roll over."  while he brandished a crowbar.  She screamed where upon he hit her on the head with the crowbar and fled after doing so.

The detective on the case had got leads on a possible suspect and arranged for the victim to look at a photo line-up.  This included a photo of the suspect that was on file from a mug shot taken  a month after the incident.  She was not able to pick him out of the line-up.

The detective, undaunted found out there was an earlier booking photo of the suspect closer to the time of the incident.   A month of starchy jail food had not been able to have their affect on his facial features yet.   

He showed a line-up of photos with this image and she was able to pick him out from the group of six photos and then later was able to do the same with a stand-up line-up in jail.  

A detective's perseverence was able to convict this suspect and give the victim a little peace of mind.

I don't know how I would be able to remember a face in the middle of the night, awakened from sleep, in the dark with someone ordering me with the threat of a crowbar but I think she did pretty well remembering his thin eye brows, average nose and prominent chin.  His eyes are a little bigger in the composite probably because of his state of excitement during the incident.  


The Bull said...

Pretty amazing stuff, uncanny how an artist's intuition combined with a witness memory can produce such accuracy in rendering!

Sheila Wedegis said...

WOW...I'm impressed . I have often wondered how a Forensic artist did that. excellent!!!

L.Holm said...

That is amazing, Sheila. How you were able to come so close based on a description is mind-boggling to me. And stunning how a few extra pounds can so alter features. Thank goodness for folks like you, and the detective who didn't give up.

Now you've moved from putting 2-legged animals behind bars to getting 4-legged ones out! I repeat: you're a gem.

laurens.paint.palette said...

You are amazing! How you can get so dead on without a reference photo is beyond me!!

Mary Paquet said...

Sheila, your fine art is so successful because you have honed your intuition and ability to compose an accurate portrait from verbal descriptions. Very impressive and so interesting to those of us who have little knowledge of law enforcement.

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

A terrifying account. Glad the sketch helped catch the predator.

artbyakiko said...

Amazing! Another great work, Sheila.

Dominic Philibert said...

Awesome work!!!!!!

Nina E J said...

wow that is freaky...all the stuff that keeps happening, especially to women is disgusting --- but Im glad that you help in solving these problems, and that is a good drawing!

r garriott said...

That's Amazing! He looks so different with a few extra pounds. That would have thrown me, too. But he looks just like your sketch in the thinner photo!!
(Thinking of things one would try to remember in a crime scene, I used to try to memorize licence plates for practice...)

So glad to have you as a blog buddy!

Dean Grey said...

That composite sketch creeped me out.

I guess it makes the criminal and the crime that much more real to me.

So unique and fascinating to see though.


Tom Pohlman said...

Its eerie and interesting at the same time to see and hear the details of a case. Reminds me- I need to call and thank my parents for instilling me with some boundries and a sense of self-worth! Nice job.