Facial reconstructions by students at the New York Academy of the Arts using 3D printed versions of skulls of unidentified human remains found in Chilliwack in 1972 (left) and in Port Moody in 1995 (right). These are two of 15 skulls provided by the BC Coroners Service to help solve cold cases. (canadasmissing.ca)

Facial reconstructions by students at the New York Academy of the Arts using 3D printed versions of skulls of unidentified human remains found in Chilliwack in 1972 (left) and in Port Moody in 1995 (right). These are two of 15 skulls provided by the BC Coroners Service to help solve cold cases. (canadasmissing.ca)

Artists hired to help in skull reconstruction in B.C. cold cases

3D-print of unidentified skull found in Chilliwack among 14 sent to New York Academy of the Arts

There are many unsolved mysteries that surround missing people in British Columbia. Then there are the equally mysterious cases of the found.

Some of the names will be familiar to stories of missing people in Chilliwack reported in The Progress over the years.

There was Brandyn Dirienzo, who was last seen Oct. 4, 2006 going in to an apartment building on Bole Avenue and was never seen again.

Kelly Rideout was reported missing on Aug. 28, 2011, a disappearance deemed so suspicious that the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has the file.

And of course the famous case of Joanne Maria Pedersen who, at the age of 10, was last seen with an adult male at a telephone booth in Vedder Crossing on Feb. 19, 1983.

• READ MORE: Finding Kelly: Closure is all her mother wants

• READ MORE: RCMP renew call for info on girl who went missing 35 years ago

But go even further back to Sept. 18, 1972 when the body of a man was found down at Peg Leg bar on the Fraser River off McSween Road. He was slender, short, had brown hair, brown eyes, and well looked-after teeth.

“There were only two fillings present.”

That detail from the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains an initiative of RCMP to help find missing people, but also try to put a name to unidentified remains.

Now artists in New York are helping the RCMP identify human remains from Chilliwack’s mysterious Peg Leg man and others as part of a unique project combining art and science.

Fourteen skulls from unidentified human remains investigations in B.C. were provided to the RCMP by the BC Coroners Service. The skulls were then recreated with 3D printing and transported to the New York Academy of the Arts (NYAA). Students at NYAA conducted facial reconstruction with the hope that it could lead to tips and names put to the faces.

“The 14 skulls provided by the BC Coroners Service as reference material are part of the B.C. inventory of cold cases,” said Eric Petit, director of the BC Coroners Service’s Special Investigations Unit. “Specifically, these are investigations where we have reached an impasse in terms of identifying the deceased individuals.”

Anyone who thinks they might recognize a face is asked to submit tips on the Canada’s Missing website at www.canadamissing.ca.

“This partnership is a unique opportunity to try to draw new breath into otherwise stalled investigations,” Petit said. “Our hope is that these reconstructions will trigger a memory that results in someone connecting with us or the RCMP, which will lead us to identifying these individuals. This collaborative project builds on other identification tools, including our unidentified human remains viewer, to help us close cold cases in our province.”

In addition to the young man found in Chilliwack, 3D printed version of skulls were sent to NYAA from human remains found in the Vancouver area, Whistler, Parksville, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Delta, Richmond, Lytton, Burnaby, and one from Sandy Cove Beach, Nova Scotia.

Students at NYAA’s forensic sculpture workshop reconstructed the faces under the guidance of Joe Mullins, a senior forensic artist with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the U.S. The BC Coroners Service and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner provided information such as sex, ethnicity and height for the unidentified human remains investigations. Armed with that knowledge, as well as their anatomical expertise and artistic skills, the students spent the week reconstructing the faces by applying clay to 3D-printed versions of actual skulls.

The reconstructed faces will go on display in New York in April 2020 as part of the New York Academy of Art’s Open Studios event.

NYAA has hosted its workshop annually since 2015, and since then four visual identifications have been directly attributed to facial reconstructions performed at the workshop.

In B.C. there are 179 unidentified human remains investigations open. There are currently over 700 unidentified remains in the RCMP’s national database of missing persons and unidentified remains.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The fence option chosen for the 461 Quatsino Boulevard development is the red lines that border the site plan. The fence will be roughly six feet high with the exception of the fence bordering Cranberry Street which will be eight feet high. (Boni Maddison Architects photo)
Fence to be erected between housing project and Kitimat homeowners

Residents of the Cranberry Street area are finally getting the fence they want

Rising demand for police to perform well-being checks and field calls for people struggling with domestic violence cases is driving the city to formulate a ‘situation table’ to connect vulnerable people with the services they need. (News Bulletin file photo)
Situation Table comes to Kitimat to support vulnerable people

Situation Tables identify and help vulnerable people in need.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read