Recognition by forensic facial approximation: Case specific examples and empirical tests

Stephan, C. N. and Henneberg, M. (2006) Recognition by forensic facial approximation: Case specific examples and empirical tests. Forensic Science International, 156 2 & 3: 182-191. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.11.020

Author Stephan, C. N.
Henneberg, M.
Title Recognition by forensic facial approximation: Case specific examples and empirical tests
Journal name Forensic Science International   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0379-0738
Publication date 2006-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.11.020
Volume 156
Issue 2 & 3
Start page 182
End page 191
Total pages 10
Editor P. Saukko
Place of publication Shannon, Co. Clare Ireland
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 069901 Forensic Biology
069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Abstract The skeletal remains of one individual found near Adelaide in 1994, although not known at the time, were the first evidence of what was to be a serial killing reported to have resulted in the highest casualty list to date in Australia (12 victims). Since the usual methods of identification could not be used or were unsuccessful on these remains, facial approximations were produced and advertised over the 4-year period following their discovery, in an attempt to help to identify them. However, no identification was made. In 1999, the remains were reported to be identified by radiographic comparison. Approximately 3 months before this identification was made, another facial approximation was produced by the first author (CNS), but this face was never advertised in the media. Although rarely reported in the literature, this paper provides an example where facial approximation methods were not successful in a forensic scenario. The paper also reports on empirical tests of the facial approximation created by the first author to determine if this facial approximation might have been useful had it been advertised. The results provide further evidence that high resemblance of a facial approximation to the target individual does not indicate recognizability, as the facial approximation was poorly recognized even though it bore good resemblance to the target individual. The usefulness of facial approximation techniques is discussed within the context of this case and more broadly. Methods used to assess the accuracy of facial approximations are also discussed and further evaluated.
Keyword Forensic science
Facial reproduction
Facial reconstruction
Bodies in barrels
Lower Light
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Biomedical Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 16 Jan 2009, 16:05:43 EST by Gina Velli on behalf of School of Biomedical Sciences