I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a Thriller Thursday post, but I wanted to talk about this amazing women. Police sketches have always fascinated me–along with any kind of visual art, really. How can an artist create accurate suspect faces from words? Especially from traumatized people? I’m sure much of it is about asking the right questions, but it’s still a skill I can’t fathom having.
Meet Lois Gibson, considered the most successful sketch artist in the world. Yes, the world. And she’s got a citation from the Guinness World Record people to prove it.
From The Huffington Post:
Gibson is the world’s most successful police sketch artist — and she’s got a citation from Guinness to prove it. Her composite drawings have helped police in Texas track down hundreds of murderers, rapists and kidnappers. But a deft hand doesn’t guarantee success, it’s her good ear and supportive tone of voice that gets victims and witnesses to open up.
“One hundred percent of all the witnesses say they can’t remember well enough to do a sketch,” Gibson, said. “It’s getting them to remember the last thing they want to remember … I’m sitting there with somebody who’s been through the worst thing of their life.”
But Lois didn’t just decide one day to become a criminal sketch artist. 42 years ago, she was viciously raped and nearly murdered. During the attack, he choked her to the point of losing consciousness, and then allowed her to recover, only to start over again. She realized she’d her attacker would have to find release for the attack to stop, and she helped him do that.
After the attack, she dedicated her life to helping others. It took the Houston police department a while to come around, as most didn’t realize the value of a good sketch artist back then. But once they did, Lois made an immediate difference. To date, she’s worked on approximately 4500 cases and helped solve 1289 of them.
Gibson is said to be hyper-intuitive, able to read the victims she’s talking with, and bringing details out they didn’t even realize they knew.
Baby Grace and the Kissing Sailor
Baby Grace is one of Gibson’s most famous cases, and one of the more fascinating parts of her skill set. She reconstructs faces from the remains of unidentified bodies. In the Baby Grace case, Gibson reconstructed the face of a toddler whose body had been stuffed in a storage container and left to the Houston heat.
Gibson’s sketch was nationally televised and led to the toddler’s grandmother identifying her.
Gibson is also know for identifying the “kissing sailor” in the famous Times Square photo at the end of WWII. Through age progression, she proved Glenn McDuffie was the real kissing sailor.
Her sketches speak for themselves. This compilation of her work is courtesy of 9gag.
And there are hundreds more like this. Lois Gibson has put her talent to crucial use, and I applaud her. Dealing with victims, pressuring them for details they don’t want to think about, has to take its toll on a person.
If you’d like to learn more about Lois, visit her website.