WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Forensic artist Jenny Kenyon, Penn State Arts and Design Research Incubator research associate, was the center of attention at a press conference held in December by the West Manchester Township Police Department in York County. Her vibrant yellow sweater lit by flashbulbs was starkly contrasted by the subdued officers on her left and the clay model bust on her right of a murder victim that she reconstructed using a 3D print of his skull.
A road crew discovered the remains in 2013 and after a five-year homicide investigation that has produced more questions than answers, police decided to turn to forensic art in the hopes that the victim will be identified.
“Without knowing who the victim is, it is nearly impossible to find a suspect,” said Lance Krout, lead investigator in the case. “I’ve spent several years working on this and it’s kept me up some nights because we’re not able to move into the next phase of the investigation if we don’t identify this victim.”
After exhausting traditional investigatory tactics, which led to the discovery that the victim was male, between 35 and 45-years-old at the time of his death, likely between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and of Spanish or Caucasian descent, Krout began to explore the forensic art options.
Forensic facial reconstruction using 3D printing
Knowing that Penn State is a leader in 3D-printing technology, he contacted Jamie Heilman, Stuckman School digital fabrication and specialized technologies coordinator, and in September 2018 a 3D-print of the skull was created to preserve the DNA of the remains and to provide a forensic facial reconstruction artist with a working model of the skull. The only thing missing from Krout’s plan was the artist.