The forensic art

Great article in the Sunday Texas magazine about forensic artist Karen Taylor, who has a long and distinguished record of helping police identify criminals and crime victims through her composite sketches. Here’s the story of her first sketch, which came about via a request from the Texas Rangers:

The crime was a hit-and-run homicide of a child. The witness was an 8-year-old girl who had seen her 6-year-old cousin struck and dragged by a car whose driver stopped long enough to determine that the child was dead, then sped away.

“This little girl was surrounded by all these huge Rangers with guns, and she was scared to death,” says Taylor. “My instincts kicked in, and I knew I had to get her by herself. I took her to a room by ourselves and just talked to her for a while. It took about two hours, but I finally put her at ease.

“The driver had stopped and looked right at her, and she was exactly the right height to see directly into the car. She gave me a great description of the man, and I did the sketch. Then, just as I was about to leave, she asked me, `Are we gonna draw the lady too?’ ”

Taylor’s sketches of the couple appeared in newspapers and on television the following day. The couple, having seen their likenesses and frightened by their accuracy, turned themselves in.

“That’s when I began to realize that I had what I call `it,’ for lack of a better term,” says Taylor. “It’s a sort of ability to group things into perspective, like the features of the face.”

Be sure to click on the sidebar link entitled “Molding a career”, which shows a couple of examples of her work. It’s pretty amazing.

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