Soft Tissue Postmortem Drawing & Retouch

A Postmortem Reconstruction is developed by reconstructing facial characteristics of an unidentified deceased person with decomposed or damaged human tissue. The image will first show trauma to the victim and is repaired digitally or by applying paints directly to the photograph, covering the injured area making the features recognizable. The drawing repairs the trauma to the victim so that the final image will be more presentable when asking for law enforcement or the public’s assistance in identification. The final reconstruction is used as an investigative aid for identification and can help to expedite an investigation to lead to the discovery of the unknown. Harvey developed this technique in the early 1980’s by directly drawing on the photographs of the deceased.

Case Example: This case involved the killing of a young woman by numerous gunshots. In addition to the gunshot wounds, the victim also suffered postmortem trauma from the mortuary reconstruction. A photo retouch was completed based on additional photographs from the crime scene before the victim’s tissue had been traumatized from embalming and also before autopsy stress to the face and throat. The swelling was removed from the victim by the retouching of the photograph. She has remained unidentified and is believed to be a foreign exchange student from the Middle East. If you have information concerning this case, please contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.