Case Study: Skull to Photo Comparison for Identification Purposes

Publishing April 2021 in the Journal of Forensic Identification

In this case, the Clark County WA Medical Examiner had a victim of a house fire who was unidentified. The home owner was the probable victim but the Medical Examiner was unwilling to sign off on the victim without further confirmation of identification. There was no living family to compare DNA, no dental records to compare, and no medical records. They asked that I do a skull to photo comparison to possibly assist in adding to the preponderance of evidence that this was their homeowner, or to rule this person out as the victim.

In previous cases, I’ve only done a basic comparison to advise a detective if a subject is absolutely not their victim or not if the features or bones of the skull did not fit the face at all. In this case though, I was able to locate a number of anomalies on the face that corresponded to the skull. They were compelling enough that the ME was comfortable in identifying this subject as the victim. 

I present this case as an example to other artists who may not have gone to this extent in a comparison before in the hopes that it may offer them another option to attempt to get an ID in some specific cases.