Please welcome Rebekah Turner who joins the cause to name the unidentified. She wrote the post below to introduce her project to my blog’s readers in hopes that you will use her database as well. I have said it before and cannot stress this enough: cold case work is teamwork.
If you have a missing loved one or know people who do, please read and share Rebekah’s post. She has found a unique way to help. Here she is in her own words:
“Can you help me find out what happened to my brother? He went missing in 1968. We don’t believe he’s still alive because he would’ve contacted us by now.” As someone who is known for being familiar with cold cases in the national unidentified database, this is a question I am often asked by families of missing persons who disappeared long ago. After reviewing hundreds of cases and photographs, I can instantly picture the face of an unidentified man who fell 8 stories to his death off the New York apartment window ledge he had tried to burgle; I can picture the unidentified girl with the yellow wedge sandals who decided she’d had enough as she purposely stepped in front of a train; I can picture the full sleeve tattoo of colorful wildlife on the unidentified man who may have been the victim of a homicide. These images may be familiar to me, but they are not what families of the missing want to see while trying to search for answers about their lost loved ones.
NAMUS, the national missing and unidentified persons database, contains has a wealth of information on these unidentified persons cases, but it can be cumbersome for families of the missing to navigate. I saw a need for a visual bridge between NAMUS and those searching for answers, whether they be families of the lost, private citizens searching for information, or law enforcement investigating clues from a cold case. I created the website “The Unidentified” as a way of making these cold cases accessible in a visually interesting way.
The site is designed as an organized gallery of compelling images to inspire recognition and focuses on forensic art, featured cases, and unique items that may be used as identification tools. Search categories include items found with bodies of the unidentified, tattoos and dental x-rays of the unidentified, victims of serial killers, and more. Forensic art categories include physical reconstructions, sketch artist images, and digitally created composite images. All cases on the site can also be viewed sorted by age, sex and estimated year of death. Understanding that the process of searching for a lost loved one is incredibly difficult, I deliberately chose to not include post-mortem images on The Unidentified, making it a safe space for all.
The Unidentified uses the power of pictures as an accessible recognition tool designed to be utilized by private citizens and professional investigators alike to bring closure to cases which may have long since grown cold. The Unidentified uniquely appeals to our visual senses by bringing small pieces of a larger puzzle together, giving clarity and focus through the fog of time.
Rebekah Turner is creator of The Unidentified, a gallery of forensic images used as clues in solving cold case identification mysteries. She holds a bachelor’s degree and is currently pursuing a second degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Death Investigation. You can contact her here.