Forensic Art: In the Beginning...
I started working in forensic art in 1981. Yeah, I know, a long time ago. Long before anyone had ever even heard of forensics, let alone had television, books, movies, you name it on the topic.
I worked for the North Idaho Regional Crime Lab in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’d
like to say I was hired because I was a brilliant and gifted artist with
Sherlock Holmes-like sleuthing abilities. Actually, I was hired because my dad was the director of the crime lab. He always claimed I was the best artist he knew. I think I was the only artist he knew. The crime lab handled physical
evidence from the ten northern counties of Idaho, the Department of Fish and Game, the FBI, and any agency that requested our services. My initial duties were to prepare the trial charts and hold the stupid end of the tape measure at crime scenes. In the spring of 1985, the FBI offered their second class on forensic art (the first class was held in the fall of 1984.) My dad asked me if I was interested in attending. Me. At the FBI Academy? Waaaahooooo! Off I tromped for the two-week course. I returned with a wonderful skill: composite drawing, and a friend who would later become my husband: Rick.
I was one of the first forensic artists in the Pacific Northwest,
and the first FBI trained forensic artist in Idaho. Like any new service, it was
necessary to let the law enforcement agencies know of my existence and range of abilities. The members of the crime lab traveled across Idaho giving talks and demonstrations of the various forensic services available to them. I set my sights on Spokane, Washington, just an hour away from my home.
Spokane sits near the Idaho-Washington border and boasts a
population of about 300,000. I requested a meeting with the chief of police. I wasn’t sure how well my free-hand sketches would go over. Spokane was still reeling from the shattering crime wave of Kevin Coe (Frederick Harlan Coe,) the South Hill Rapist, made famous by the book Son:
A Psychopath and his Victims, by Jack Olsen. An Identikit composite had been rendered without results. The chief, however, was excited about this new skill and within a few months, Spokane had a new forensic artist.
Now back to you. Do you want to hear more about my cases?
Photographs and other ugly topics
One of the requirements for a writer is to get a good photograph for the book cover. Of yourself. Ugh. I hoped maybe I could buy a model's image and use that. Change it out at times, offer variety. I could be a drop-dead red-head for the first book, maybe a curvy brunette the next. Sigh. Nooo, the publisher wasn't going to go with that.
Dave and Andrea Kramer of Stampede Lake Photography agreed to the dreadful task. Rick and I have known the Kramers since we were married ... in fact, they took our wedding photos. I had to find three or more shirts of different colors for the photo shoot. I guess a stained Great Pyrenees T-shirt wasn't going to cut it. I thought about looking serious, pensive, like I had another Great Novel just spinning in my head. Instead I grinned like a village fool. Oh well, the deed was done. We ate a great dinner together, caught up on our lives, and off they went.
A sneak peek into my book: Dave Kramer, retired Chief of Police of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, is the template for Dave Moore in my books. More about him later.
Fine artist, forensic artist, author.