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Match Making Tips

Wes Neville (Project EDAN Artist) Comments

(This is in reference to what is concrete and what is artist interpretation with regard to reconstructions and sketches.)

"Any of the "fleshy" areas of the face are open to some interpretation.

The skull will dictate basically how the cheeks will appear, but you (the artist) never really knows how that person may have aged, had scars, etc (with skeletal remains).

The eyes are usually fairly close IF you have a good anthropologist report to work with. The report will tell the artist how to depict the eyes. The skull, orbits in particular, tells you if the eyes are large, small, squinted, etc.. They also let you know the general shape of the eyebrows.

Mouth size is fairly accurate, but the result is usually a generic lip.. right size, but shape varies from person to person... SO, look for width and height for accuracy...

The nose is an accurate feature provided the nasal spine and upper region of the nasal opening is intact.

Ears are an educated guess... The average ear size is said to be from the brows to the tip of the nose.

Dimples are guesswork, there are no studies that I am aware of that will definitively determine whether or not dimples are a result of skull makeup.

Wrinkles are determined by age, shape of eye, ethnicity, and geographical location where the individual may have been from.

The biggest and best identifier is the "proportions" of the skull - how each feature relates to the other.."

Jerry Nance (Retired NCMEC Case Manager) Comments

"You start by taking the physical descriptors (age, height etc, date of disappearance vs Estimated Date of Death) and look for everything that will DISPROVE the Jane or John is so and so.

Once you can not establish that it is not them, then start to work on the other side, look at the distances, known items of clothing, matching scars, tattoos, etc. The more you find on the plus side, the higher is your probability of a match.

Low is nothing positive, but nothing negative, Medium means things like distance and clothing is close, High is the markers that could be distinctive, things like one leg shorter than the other, unique dental work or tooth structure, etc.

Once you have that, then look at the physical pictures but be careful if you are comparing it to a reconstruction because things like hair line nose, lips, ears, etc may not be accurate.

On a comparison of the photos, look at the ears (almost as good as a fingerprint) jaw line, eye sockets, mouth line, arch of eyebrows, general placement of the eyes to the nose to the upper lip. Most people will look at the general face and say yes, that is him. To get better results, break the face up and examine the pieces."

Various Members

"When evaluating a Potential Match, we all look for the same basic things: timing, physical stats, resemblance, body markings, jewelry, clothing, distance and possible geographical connections, circumstances, medical conditions, broken bones, prosthetic devices, mental health issues, substance abuse, etc.. Ask yourself can differences in the MP and UID reports be reasonably reconciled without a convoluted explanation or a great degree of speculation?"

"When considering submissions for a potential match, the stats between the MP and UID should be relatively close in order to make reasonable comparison. Many times the stats are so far off that it's blatantly obvious that there could not be a match. More substantive thinking should be utilized in the process when searching and the submitter should ask 'does this actually make sense and have the potential to be a real match?'"

"I think estimated date of death should be looked at more closely when making a Potential Match. Granted they can be off some, but I feel it is important to see that the EDD is much closer to the disappearance."

"The match should not be submitted for purposes of obtaining a rule out. Law Enforcement is not interested in making rule outs; they want to make bona fide matches. Dental comparisons and DNA comparisons are quite expensive and are not reasons in and of themselves to submit a match. We want to submit the best possible matches. The goal is making a match, not making a rule out."

"Look at the total picture, not just the height/weight and hair/eye color. Too often, submitters place a disproportionate importance on the fact that the height and weight match. That's a part of it, but there are billion dollar clothing businesses that are successful based on the fact that most of us can be categorized into clothing sizes by our height/weight and can order online or thru catalogs. In other words, its not unusual for a woman to be 5'5" and weigh 130 lbs. or a male to be 5'10" and weigh 170 lbs. - what else makes this a match? Height and weight statistics alone are not enough to submit a match to Law Enforcement. The same reasoning fits with hair and eye color. There are millions of blue eyed blondes in the world. The fact that the Unidentified and the missing person both have blonde hair and blue eyes does not mean much without any other connecting circumstances which would merit the attention of Law Enforcement."

"To narrow down your choices, you could look for definite rule-outs such as conflicting medical information between the MP and UID, eg. previous injuries, evidence of pregnancies, piercings, tattoos... Of course some of these things wouldn't be discovered in skeletal remains."


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