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Giving A Face To The Dead: Long Island Forensic Artist Crucial In Bodies Investigation

YAPHANK, NY (WCBS 880) - How did they give faces to the victims' remains in the Ocean Parkway beach body case?

WCBS 880's Sophia Hall On The Story


At Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank, Danielle Gruttadaurio uses her background in art to take a human skull and sketch how the person looked when they were alive.

"Somebody out there loves them and somebody out there is missing them. So, hopefully it could put a little bit of a closure," she said. "It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months depending how intact the skull itself is."

Gilgo Beach Victim Sketches
Gruttadiaurio's handiwork: composite sketches of two of the victims found along Ocean Parkway (credit: Handout)

The process involves some reconstruction. To get the shape of the face correct, Gruttadaurio's first step involves placing pencil erasers on the skull. The erasers roughly simulate the typical depth of facial tissue.

Then she takes a photo of the skull with the erasers mounted on it.

Finally she places tissue paper over the photo to outline the shape of the face.

"I then start to put in the eyes, the nose, which is determined by the bones," she told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall.

Earlier this week, police released sketches of two of the unidentified victims whose bodies turned up amid the investigation into a possible serial killer - or killers.

"The reason why I'm doing what I'm doing, in hope that it can help the homicide squad, it can help other people," Danielle said.

Do you have a theory about this case? Share it in the comments section below!

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