Not Quite Forgotten Souls


The Doe Network

My latest obsession is going through reading the mini case histories of each John/Jane Doe on the site. There are hundreds.  And yes, I do realize this illustrates that sometimes I have way too much time on my hands.  But my answer to that is, “Someone *made* this site.”

It appears someone went to state and local law agencies and culled their unidentified remains sections into one central place. It’s interesting to see the level of detail provided or not by each agency.  Texas, for instance,  tells you nothing: where the remains were found, what they were wearing, and an estimated time of death.  You can do some reading between the lines, however.  If fingerprints are not available, either the hands were removed to impede identification; or more commonly, the body was too decomposed to get prints.

Sometimes the originating agencies will provide post-mortem photos in their reports. Doe Network does not post these. However, I’ve realized that some of the “re-creation of victim” photos are touched up versions of the autopsy photos.  I also realize that actual photos of dead people aren’t necessarily an asset to everyone. But love post-mortem and crime scene photos, so they are to me!

This is a good example. The odd lighting on her face?  That’s the theatre lights above her when she was on the slab. You can see the odd discolorations around the eyes and weird puffiness in her face. Basically, a computer artist photo-shopped her shirt on, fixed the hair, and opened her eyes.  But that IS a picture of her dead.

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The one on top is a decent re-creation in my opinion.  I bet the girl actually looked like that.  The one on the bottom?  What the hell is that?  WHO IS THAT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE?  Not only does it not look like the photos, it’s a horrible drawing of a person.  There are lots of really bad drawings on the site. After viewing hundreds and hundreds of these things, you start recognizing some artists’ work. And with some, I’ve found that their re-creations all look alike. It’s like they are vaguely drawing the same person over and over.

I love to find the ones where you get several paragraphs of case history, filled with lurid detail.  So much that it creeps you out.  Admittedly, I will be reading along and get frustrated because I hope little conclusions gleaned from details that seem glaringly obvious to me are also obvious to the people who found her and they are just not publishing their case. But on the other hand,  I think “Obviously they aren’t doing something right if in 10 years, they still haven’t come up with her name.”  

Sure, I like the dead body angle.  Who doesn’t love that?  But it’s not just cheap thrills that keeps me clicking “next page.”  It also makes me sad to look at them. All these hundreds of people, and for each one,  no one cared. No one misses them.  In the grand scheme of things, reading about them won’t change the ultimate indignity of dying and rotting with no one mourning or caring, but each person that glances at their pictures and reads that tiny piece of their story, for that bit of time, someone is caring about what happened to them.

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~ by Layla on August 14, 2008.

One Response to “Not Quite Forgotten Souls”

  1. I fully agree with this!

    I thought by going through pictures and stomaching the details AND PICTURES of the dead ones, it would inspire me NOT to kill anyone and bring killers to justice. It’s scary that we look at dead bodies and can’t stop but it’s a very sad fact that these people are dead and not one family member has visited the site to figure out if that’s them; granted, you bring up some good points. What the hell is that drawn picture? I understand the difficulty for the artist to simulate something that they’re not too sure. They have WAY better artistry skills than I do, so I won’t complain too much but how does this help family members identify them? The other argument I could think of for the people who are left unidentified is the fact that computer/hand drawn pictures are not accurate enough. I honestly think that autopsy pictures SHOULD be allowed. Give a damn warning at the beginning and if people who view it are going to throw up, that’s their own fucking problem. Help the family members/friends that are looking for people!

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