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Forensic artist describes process of creating sketch of possible crime subjects


The search continues for a suspected prowler targeting women in Columbia

Columbia police say investigators are currently following up on multiple leads. 

A sketch showing a suspected prowler in Columbia, provided by the Columbia Police Department

Reports show the potential prowler has targeted several women's apartments in south Columbia. All women were between 20-30 years old. Online Columbia police dispatch records show there have been 17 calls to south Columbia apartment complexes about a suspicious person or car since Tuesday.

On Friday, ABC17 spoke to a forensic artist who was able to explain the process of identifying a suspect. 

Natalie Murry is a digital forensic artist who lives in Texas. Murry was a law enforcement officer for 10 years. In 2001, Murry attended the forensic facial imaging class at the FBI academy in Quantico Virginia, and now serves as a certified forensic artist with the international association for identification. 

Murry says most forensic artists will have a booking photo that is divided into sections of eyes, noses and mouths. This is because many people find it difficult to verbally describe what shape these body parts look like. 

This book of photos is called a composite because you're using several different body parts from other photos or different people, according to Murry.

Artists then put these body parts altogether in one new composite image. 

"The thought process is that it's easier for people to respond when they see an image, instead of just a verbal description or written description of what this person looks like," Murry said. "So, if they see a drawing of what it looks like they might think hey I think I know that guy... 'It looks like my neighbor that looks like my brother-in-law' and they'll call the detective, giving the detective a lead he may not have had before,"

Murry says the image is a starting point for the detectives. 

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Kennedy Miller


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