The forensic scientists depicted in popular TV shows CSI and NCIS often work in slick, technologically-decked out labs solving case after scintillating case. But for forensic sculptor linkurl:Frank Bender,;http://www.frankbender.us/ reconstructing the faces of decomposing bodies or skeletons is a much more hands-on, creative process done in his paint-stained, converted-butcher-shop-studio in South Philadelphia.
Through a career that's spanned 33 years, Bender has worked with the Philadelphia police department, the FBI, Scotland Yard, America's Most Wanted and the Mexican government to give faces to unidentified victims. Just don't ask him how many -- he's lost count. His methods are far from traditional -- the only scientific forensics data he uses are facial tissue thickness charts, but only as starting points, he said -- and have been widely criticized. But his methods, no matter how unusual, work. The artist starts his reconstruction process by photographing and studying a...
Image: Katherine Bagley
The Girl with the Crooked Nose
Interested in reading more?
Become a Member of
Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!