The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

January 2, 2014

Amid technology, police still drawn to the sketch

As two women walked into a wooded area in late October, a man followed them. He sexually assaulted one and robbed them both at gunpoint. Minutes later and yards away, he did it again, robbing a group of three teenagers near Northwestern High School in Prince George's County, Md., and sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

With no cameras to record the crime in Chillum and few leads, police turned to a seemingly anachronistic investigative tool — the composite sketch.

Police crime analyst and forensic artist Joyce Conlon spent nearly four hours with each of the assault victims, piecing together their memories to produce a picture of a suspect. The result: a black-and-white sketch of a man with a square head, long ears and a gaunt face. Two months later, a suspect was caught in Montgomery County, thanks in part to Conlon's sketch.

"There's not always going to be a camera," Conlon said. "Until we start getting to [an] age where computers are everywhere and Big Brother is watching you, for now the sketch artist is watching you."

In a world saturated with surveillance videos, cellphone cameras and other recording devices that can capture crimes in real time, many police departments across the country still rely on the composite sketch to help solve crimes. And while many police departments have cut back on traditional paper-and-pencil sketches as newer technologies emerge, local forensic artists and police detectives are fighting to make sure hand-drawn sketches don't die out as an investigative tool.

Indeed, many local police officials insist composite sketches are still important to the crime-fighting process when newer technologies can't help. They offer their services to neighboring law enforcement agencies that can't afford a police artist. They invest in training with agencies such as the FBI to improve their skills. And they give regular presentations to detectives within their own departments, pitching composites as an option when they're stumped on certain cases.

Text Only
Features
  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140317-AMX-DESIGN-FOOD178.jpg Fun and beautiful maps of the world made from signature regional foods

    Food stylist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves have collaborated on a series of food-based country maps composed of signature national ingredients.

    March 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • AvengerExt.jpg Avenger an American value

    If you’re someone who appreciates the golden age of domestic sedans — those big, comfortable, heavy-feeling cars with a uniquely American sense of style — this one ought to pique your interest.

    March 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 4.27.26 PM.png The glitz, the glamour and the movies: 3 apps for Oscar weekend

    With the Oscars approaching, this is a weekend for movies. Download these apps, then watch a few movies, create your own and settle in for the awards show.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140218-AMX-DESIGN-HOTEL182.jpg The rise of the hotel bakery

    One of the key trends in hotel design in recent years has been a sharp focus on creating a hotel lobby that is a destination, not just a pass-through.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • How the U.S. government spends millions to get people to eat more pizza

    WASHINGTON - It all adds up to a lot of calories: On an average day, the report notes, pizza provides 6 percent of the total caloric intake for American children and 4 percent for American adults.

    February 18, 2014

  • Mazda3Int.jpg Redesigned Mazda3 among best new small cars

    Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
    How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • SoulExt.jpg Soul is still stylin’

    Starting under $15,000, the Soul has always pegged its success on buyers who want a trendy, contemporary, eye-catching car without spending a ton of cash. And now that an all-new Soul is out for 2014, it shows that Kia is doubling down on this recipe of combining funky looks and an affordable price.

    February 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 01.jpg US News names its 'Best Cars for the Money'

    WASHINGTON - U.S. News & World Report Wednesday announced its annual Best Cars for the Money list on its Best Cars website.

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • You're doing it wrong: how to make better ramen

    NEW YORK — The finer points of instant ramen preparation may be up for debate, but the noodle cakes and flavor packets bequeathed to the world by Momofuku Ando are un-mess-up-able.

    February 10, 2014

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results