Samantha Molnar works with authorities in Ohio by reconstructing unidentifiable remains that often belong to missing persons or victims of violent crime. As a forensic artist, her job can be strenuous when the evidence and details for reconstruction are already scarce. Reproducing an accurate model of persons of interest or victims requires a delicate touch, but luckily, she has help from the best that modern technology has to offer. 3D printing, medical images, age progression software and various other tools aid her artistic abilities in solving various cases.
Modern Tech & Reconstruction
Over the last two years, Molnar has created clay busts for seven criminal investigations in Ohio. While one victim has been identified, six others remain a mystery. Ordinarily, the workflow requires turning CT scans into 3D prints, which then serve as the basis for Molnar to reconstruct. She uses forensic clay to make it seem as authentic as possible, though she laments that it isn’t an exact science.
“People expect forensic art to be an exact science and it’s definitely not,” Molnar said. “I want it to be perfect and I want it to be exactly what that person looked like and I get frustrated. … You don’t always have the information that you need.”
So how exact is the method? Authorities received a tip on the same day that her clay model was complete. They wound up identifying the victim as Tiffany Dawn Chambers, a missing woman from Jacksonville, Fl. Authorities found her remains in a wooded area of Spring Valley Township in Greene County in May 2016. The clay model lead to identifying the victim and solving the homicide with the killer pleading guilty earlier this year in Clark County Common Pleas Court to her murder. This was despite Molnar thinking that particular reconstruction wasn’t her best work.
Forensic artists help the police identify victims but it also gives a sense of peace to their grieving families. Recovering missing persons can also provide closure to many people or help find long lost relatives. It’s nice to know that they are getting help from the latest technologies.
Featured image courtesy of ohio.com