Police unveil sculpted bust resembling unidentified man

New evidence regarding identification of 'cold case' victim using reconstructive technology

Staff ~ The Guardian comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on April 23, 2014
RCMP Sgt. Michel Fournier says the man discovered by a fisherman in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1997 had “very unique proportions.” A bust of the man’s likeness was put on display by police in Charlottetown Tuesday in hopes it will help identify the man.
TC Media - The Guardian

CHARLOTTETOWN - A forensic reconstruction has been completed of human remains found in Malpeque Bay.

RCMP held a news conference Tuesday to provide an update on the case.

Surely, this man would have stood out in a crowd, says Sgt. Michel Fournier.

Fournier is the RCMP forensic art specialist who literally put a face to the considerably decomposed man's body that was discovered by a fisherman in Malpeque Bay on June 7, 1997.

The body was exhumed four years ago in the hope of using scientific and investigative advancements to identify the man.

Fournier picked away at the tedious, methodical task on and off over those years spending in total about six weeks working on reconstructing the face.

The process entailed rebuilding the face by putting all of the facial muscles back in place.

"It's just a matter, after this, of putting the artistic final touches on the facial approximation,'' says Fournier.

His impressive work was unveiled during a press conference Tuesday at the RCMP headquarters in Charlottetown.

Staring back at reporters was the near life-like bust of an imposing figure.

The man was thick in the neck.

The top of his head, notes Fournier, was very low in relation to the rest of the face.

The man had a projecting lower jaw, a very small mouth, and high cheekbones.

Someone that gave this face more than a passing glance some 17 or more years ago, would very well have taken notice, Fournier suggests.

That is the hope.

"The fact that he has very unique proportions, I think we have a very good chance of success in this one,'' says Fournier.

Still, the forensic artist stresses that his recreation is an approximation.

For instance, the shape of the eyes, the shape of the eyebrows, and the shape of the ears are all essentially guesswork - taking his best stab, if you will.

"You need to keep in mind that this is a facial approximation,'' says Fournier. "It is not perfectly accurate.''

Still, the hope remains that the bust is close enough to the face that once graced this man to trigger recognition by someone - anyone - that either knew the man or had a chance encounter.

"Of course, it would be good to put closure to the family because this person...somebody is waiting for him,'' says Fournier. "For the past 17 years, somebody is waiting for him. So it would be nice to return him to his family.''

The bust can now be added to other details of the man that had already been released by police, notably that the deceased was Caucasian, stood five feet and 11 inches tall, and had poor teeth.

His age has been estimated to be somewhere between 25 and 40 when he died.

He was found wearing a black leather belt with a large chain shaped Jack Daniels belt buckle with a belt for a size 36-inch waist, blue jeans, size 10 black leather zipper style boots, white sport socks, and initials "G.L.'' written by marker on the tag of his underwear.

While drowning was suspected at the time the body was discovered, no formal cause of death could be determined.

With limited information from the remains, and no outstanding missing persons reports, the case remained unsolved and the man was buried without ever having been identified.

"This case was never closed,'' notes RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar.

He says police have conducted missing person data searches.

Now the hope is the reconstructed face, albeit an approximation of the man's actual appearance some 17 years ago, will lead police to learn the man's true identity.

Ultimately, adds Blackadar, police would like to be able to determine the cause and manner of death.

Anyone who sees a similarity in the facial reconstruction with someone they knew or came across, are asked to call the police at 1-855-618-6292 to leave information.