Henrico police hope sketch will help in cold case

By Curt Autry - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico police are taking another look at an 18-year-old murder case, using the victim's skull.

A forensic artist has put together an image of what the victim might have looked like when she was alive.

Henrico county has only one unidentified murder victim on its books, and this is it.

Jane Doe's skull has been in storage at the medical examiners's office for the better part of two decades, but now -- there's a new clue.

A cold January night in 1991, near the corner of Evergreen and Nine Mile Road in eastern Henrico County -- skeletal remains are found in the woods. The medical examiner determines the unidentified woman had been dead for as long as a year.

Today, almost 19 years after the crime, police have a face to put with this victim, thanks to Henrico's forensic artist, Mary Bandiera.

Cold case investigator Judy Burger has no suspects, no DNA matches, virtually nothing.  Bandiera seemed like the best place to start.

"We looked to our own forensic artist expert who's had training in being able to reconstruct from the skull a facial likeness of our unknown victim," said Judy Burger, Henrico cold case detective.

The artist started with the skull and electronically layered it. They knew she was a petite woman. When she was found, she was wearing a pair of green freyed shorts, size 6.

From there, a picture emerged. Not an exact likeness by any means --there is only one element of this picture they can be sure about.

"These are her actual teeth, because when you look at a person, and they're smiling -- if there's a difference in their teeth, the person will recognize that -- and we have hopes somebody will look at the drawing, and trigger their memory as to who this person is," said Mary Bandeira, Henrico forensic artist.

If the woman in the drawing looks familiar to you, call Crime Stoppers, at 780-1000.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.