A new technology can take any DNA sample from a crime scene and predict a facial image that helps Maryland police identify human remains.
By Zach Shapiro, Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS, MD — On July 27, 2005, two children found human remains near a wooded area in southern Baltimore. The Anne Arundel County Police secured the scene and the remains were described as a 19- to 23-year-old woman roughly 5-feet-5 to 5-feet-8 inches tall with dark red or brown curly hair.
But authorities couldn’t predict what her face may have looked like, until recently. A new technology can take any DNA sample from a crime scene – from a drop of blood to bone tissue – and read tens of thousands of genetic variants to predict a facial image. It’s called Snapshot.
Through a computer-based 3D algorithm, Snapshot can predict ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape. A few Maryland law enforcement agencies have said that, in cases where there are no witnesses, it’s helped narrow down investigations into potential suspects and victims.
“Results can provide a general direction for investigators to look into,” said Darren Francke, director of the Montgomery County Police Department’s Major Crimes Division. “It can also serve to jar the memory of citizens so they come forward and provide information they would have otherwise disregarded.”