The power of a photograph.
There are thousands of artist interpretations and cadaver photos listed on The Doe Network and NamUs. When viewing the cases, you begin to see patterns of the past unfold. You can tell which police departments took extra care of the unidentified people found in their jurisdictions. Though it’s easier to spot those cases that had little to no intervention taken at all. And the majority of cases have no representative photographs and at times very little or inaccurate case details. 

The first case that...
broke my heart was NamUs case #UP12976. She was found on May 24, 1994, in Chicago, IL. She was between 18-22 years old and was likely the mother to at least 1 child due to stretch marks and a possible cesarean scar. Her body was dumped in an alley behind 4837 S. Champlain Ave. It is assumed she had been dead for 1 day. She was wearing a pink bodysuit, a black bra and a black ribbon in her hair. She was found naked from the waist down except for one sock. Her cause of death is listed as a homicide, though based on image #1 likely by strangulation. An offender has been charged with her murder but her identity is still unknown.

In total there are 4 images available for this victim between 2 databases.

1. There is the raw high-resolution medical examiner photo which cannot be used as a sketch due to its graphic content. This image is listed on both NamUs and the Doe Network.
2. A sketch made with good intentions but does not reflect the proportional characteristics of a human face. Images like these could cause more harm than help, though I recognize how difficult this work is. This image is listed on both NamUs and the Doe Network.
3. There is another artist interpretation which in my opinion is well done and it only appears on The Doe Network.
4. The last image is a very rough adaptation of her cadaver photo and only appears on The Doe Network.
Database source links 
The Doe Network

Artistic rendering

Desoto County Jane Doe (1985)

She was discovered on January 24, 1985, in Olive Branch, Desoto County, Mississippi by a spotted a truck driver traveling southbound on U.S. 78. She is thought to be between 20-40 years old and stood about 5’3. Her hair was wavy, medium length, and a strawberry-blond to red color. The police reported her eyes to be gray but that has been deemed a mistake and officially lists her eyes as brown. She was a Heavy smoker, bit her fingernails deeply, and had 3 piercings in each ear. She was wearing a light peach-colored short-sleeved pullover top with embroidery on the front and Gloria Vanderbilt blue jeans. She was not wearing shoes, undergarments, or a coat. Her cause of death is listed as homicide by ligature strangulation and/or exposure.

It is thought her case may be connected to the Redhead Murders, aka The Bible Belt Strangler. One of several serial killers who targetted hitchhikers and sex workers on the American Highway System to locate and dump victims.

In total there are 3 images available for this victim between 2 databases.

1. A very low-resolution aged scan of her original cadaver photo.
2. A low-resolution artistic rendering. 
3. A well done artist rendering. 
4. Her official FBI ViCAP Alert.
Database source links 
The Doe Network


*In order to create these reconstructions, first I must find images of a living person with similar skin tones, eyes, and mouth that also match the same qualities of the original photograph. I often use images of celebrities as they are in terms of recognition, overly identified, and photographed constantly. Essentially, the complete opposite of an unidentified person.
    For this reconstruction, I sourced the eyes and mouth on this (low res) image of Charlize Theron.

Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP3390 Doe Network 307UFCA 

On August 26, 1999 she was located in front of the Radisson Hotel at 1111 2nd Street in Santa Monica, CA. She is thought to be between 50-65 years old, though this is based off her dental age which states a dental desise. She had brown eyes, Strawberry Blond - Light Brown hair, eighed around 155lbs and stood 5’1” tall. 

She is presumed to have jumped from the 9th floor window of the hotel, which was not witnessed. According to her autopsy report her cause of death is listed as suicide, though her death was not witnessed and homicide cannot be ruled out. The official report notes states “On 08/26/1999 the decedent apparetnly jumped/fell from a window on the 9th floor of a hotel. The jump/fall was not

In total there are 2 images available for this victim between 2 databases.

1. Cadaver photo
2. A hand drawn black and white artist rendering.

Database source links 
The Doe Network



My thesis project sets out to generate graphic forms to bring attention to the Missing Murdered and Unidentified epidemic in the United States.
    The term unidentified person is used to describe the corpse of a deceased person whose identity cannot be established by police or medical examiners. Today nearly 14,000 unidentified persons exist only as bits of text or more rarely a representative image on a handful of databases.
    Unidentified people do not have a name, only case numbers. Their voices silenced, their names lost. In some cases race and gender may be confused further erasing their identity and lowering the possibility of recognition.

    The rows of data and varieties of aged photographs are all that exist of someone who likely did not have an easy life and most certainly suffered a horrific lonely death.            Who we choose to care and not care about in our culture shows what traits we value as a society. Marginalization cannot exist without oppression. 
    Oppression occurs when those in power ignore groups of people who society sees as other. Knowledge should not be a privilege. Sharing information is a way to give agency and power back to the victimized.

︎ Due to the overwhelming numbers of unidentified persons in the U.S., for my thesis I’ve chosen to focus on ‘unidentified females’ in my own community of Chicago, IL. It is imperative to mention how flawed the reporting system can be, often mislabeling gender and race. ‘Transgender’ has only recently been added as a category for missing persons and is not yet a category for unidentified persons.


PROJECT - List unidentified persons on the back of retail receipts in lieu of advertisements and coupons.
Receipts are a paper item that almost everyone comes into contact with. An instant timestamped tangible record that is given with every purchase. It’s rare to find any other item that we all handle on a daily basis. It’s thought of so seldom that the back is usually left blank. Most receipt paper is the same size and is made to fit all brands of thermal printers, so in theory one could make a layout that could be used in most retail locations.
    Due to the overwhelming amount of cases and data that is spread between multiple websites, I first had to create a database from which to extract data for each specific layout. For my thesis, I’m only focusing specifically on unidentified female cases in Illinois, where I’ve lived and worked for the past 8 years. 

Receipt offset printing example from Mariano’s on Chicago Ave.

Receipt Layout Prototypes

Receipt - Process Images

Printing all unidentified females directly from the Doe Network onto a continuous piece of receipt paper allows you to literally see how physically large this problem is and feel its actual weight.

This portion of my thesis began as a way to place the represetative image (or shilloette if no images exists) of the unidentified females found in Illinois and Indiana on a travel map in the same location their body was discovered. Due to the changes from Covid-19, this portion expanded into working more with the forms of the transfers, and reproducing them for distribution. 
Transfer : to print or otherwise copy from one surface to another by contact

Time lapse video

Transfer Gallery



Artist interpretations of deceased people is a specialized field that does not fall into the category of Design. In response to the urgency of the Unidentified epidemic, I question why design has not played a larger role in assisting law enforcement.

︎Click here to view this section


Data is the most important aspect of my project, and yet murder data is extremely unreliable in the United States. This is due to the complexity of the country’s criminal justice system. The United States of America does not require any police departments to report data about their missing and murdered persons. The lack of data in both quality and quantity contributes to an unidentified person remaining unnamed and allows murders to stay on the street.
︎ The Murder Accountability Project at MurderData.org is a fantastic resource for learning more about this issue. 

I’ve created the databases below by crosschecking case information on NamUs and The Doe Network. I’m still adding information for the 2,600 cases of unknown females reported. 

︎You can view the database here.
︎NamUS + DoeNetwork Females (living database) - PR


Missing & Unidentified Reddit/Google Map - Volunteer created

“reddit.com/r/missingmap - (Permission required) This is a work-in-progress and is not complete. It is being updated by volunteers as they have time. Using NamUS; DoeNetwork.org; CharleyProject.org; IdentifyUs.org; NMP; NCMEP; etc. If you don't see a case that should be included, please add it. If you know of a more complete database for an area, please do the same. 

Screenshot from Missing & Unidentified Reddit Map

Individual groups of missing and unidentified by gender.
Screenshots from Missing & Unidentified Reddit Map

︎ Transgender Gap - We only recently began recognizing transgender missing persons, and they are still not recognized in unidentified databases. The true amount of transgender Missing Murdered & Unidentified persons is unknown.


“Little Miss Nobody”. As of this summer, her case will be 60 years old and she still remains nameless. She was also discovered in the #1 state for unidentified bodies, which is Arizona.