artist Wesley Neville, a former Dillon County Violent Crime Task Force member and current
member of the Florence County Sheriff's Office, believes "everyone deserves a
name." This is why Neville along with three other artists are volunteering their
services to Project EDAN, which founder Todd Matthews describes as "a project
designed to help provide (free) quality sketches and reconstruction's to agencies without
the benefit of their own artist."
Matthews, who works closely with the Doe Network, was inspired by a case that affected his
own life. More than 30 years ago, Matthews' father-in-law discovered a body in Kentucky,
who became known as "Tent Girl." Matthews refused to give up and through his
efforts she was identified.
Matthews says he believes
that this case helped him begin to form the idea of Project EDAN, but the Doe Network
helped bring it to fruition in 2001. "I guess...way back to 1987 my first thoughts of
the then unnamed EDAN first came into my mind. The initial sketch of the Tent Girl
just didn't appeal to me at all. In 1995, three years before I found the link to identify
her, I drew my own sketch of the Tent Girl,' said Matthews, who said his sketch later
appeared in newspapers and met with the approval of the family.
To qualify for Project
EDAN, Matthews said they must have the "full cooperation of the law enforcement
agency" before moving forward. Matthews foresees one day extending their services to
areas such as suspect sketches or doing more controversial things such as emphasizing
known colors in images.
Neville became involved
with Project EDAN through the Doe Network, which Neville also works with. When Matthews
approached Neville with Project EDAN, Neville said he saw it as "an excellent
opportunity to utilize my training in forensic art to assist in the hope of putting
a name to the unidentified persons as well as bring closure to the families of missing
Neville has worked on more
than 20 cases for Project EDAN, mostly in the form of post-mortem sketches. Neville said
this is often "a last resort effort" to
get people identified.
One of Neville's most recent cases is a 3-D clay facial reconstruction of a Campbell
County, Tennessee Jane Doe, who authorities believe may have been the victim of a serial
killer. The case has been featured on Court TV and in some Tennessee publications.
Matthews said Neville was
chosen for the Campbell County case because "he's great at doing facial
reconstruction's.' Matthews hopes this case will be the flagship case of Project EDAN.
Neville feels that one of
the key identifiers on this case will be the unique dental abnormalities of this Jane Doe;
therefore, he did his first reconstruction without a smile, photographed it, and then did
it with smile. Another artist did 2-D reconstruction sketches. The reason, Neville says,
is to "give the viewer several different opportunities to see something in the
reconstruction or sketch that may trigger their memory."
This is one thing Matthews
sees as a key educational goal of Project EDAN. "I want people to see how to
look at these images. They are not portraits. This is an 'artistic science'...educated
opinions," said Matthews. "People too often look over these images asthey expect
an EXACT portrait of their missing loved one. The remains are found under such varying
circumstances. Sometimes we have a better idea of how a person looked based on what
condition the remains are found."
In addition to serving as
the Project EDAN Area Director for South Carolina, Neville is involved in number of
other projects. He recently received an unidentified homicide victim's skull from a law
enforcement agency in Germany. He is also involved in a facial reconstruction comparison
organized by a forensic dental expert in Australia. The results of this comparison
will be presented in Bari, Italy in September. He also completed a 2-D sketch from an
x-ray image of a mummy occupant in Egypt. Neville is a member of the Forensic Art
Subcommittee for the International Association of Identification, a group of "eight
artists from around the world who promote forensic art and work toward maintaining the
quality and integrity of the forensic art profession." Neville recently completed a
course in forensic imaging at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in
you would like to know more about this topic, you may look on the internet at the
following sites: For more information on Wes Neville and forensic art, check out www.forensicartist.com or www.fcso.org(click on investigations and then forensic art
division) or for more information about the DoeNetwork and Project EDAN, go to www.doenetwork.org. Some of these sites have links to
other sites dealing with this or related topics of interest. A site for Project EDAN is
expected to be launched in the near future.