Posted on Wed, May. 18, 2005

Police release facial reconstruction sculpture of slaying victim

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- When skeletal remains were found in a creek bed near the Benbrook Dam in unincorporated Tarrant County more than 40 years ago, investigators thought they were dealing with a murder of a woman.

They released a sketch of the woman's probable features in hopes of giving the victim a name. Tips flooded in, and dental comparisons were made with seven or eight missing women, but to no avail.

The bones would later be locked away in a Fort Worth police evidence vault, forgotten for decades.

But last winter, crime lab employees stumbled upon the skeleton while going through evidence and turned it over to Dr. Dana Austin, a forensic anthropologist with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office.

Austin reanalyzed the bones and made a surprising discovery -- the remains found Dec. 1, 1963, were actually those of a white man.

Now authorities hope a facial reconstruction sculpture, done by forensic artist Suzanne Baldon, will finally provide them some answers.

"This is somebody's relative, somebody's dad or somebody's grandpa, possibly," said Detective Bryan Jamison with the Fort Worth Police major case unit. "We want to obviously give them closure, and we want to find out who this is and solve the crime.

"The length of time from the offense to now is more of an inconvenience than a deterrence."

The man appears to have died from two gunshot wounds.

Austin said the man likely was killed in 1962 or 1963. He was probably between 33 and 45 years of age when he died, placing his likely birth year sometime between 1918 to 1930, she said.

Austin said the victim's height appears to have been between 5 feet, 5 inches and 5 feet, 11 inches. Casefiles indicate the remains were found wearing or near a green coat with a gold liner and dark blue socks.

Austin said she found evidence on the skeleton that the victim had suffered from a long-term ear infection.

Jamison is reviewing all missing person reports made in Fort Worth from 1962 and 1963. Missing-person records from the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department from that time period no longer exist.

"We just don't have a lot of records from that time, so we're relying on the public to give us the information," Austin said.

A photograph of the facial reconstruction has been entered into a national law enforcement database and is now listed on Texas Department of Public Safety's Missing Person Clearing House Web site, Austin said.

Anyone with information about white men who went missing in 1962 or 1963 is asked to call Jamison at (817) 392-4440 or Austin at (817) 920-5700, ext. 161.

Deanna Boyd, (817) 390-7655