1. News

'Art of Forensics' at Tampa History Center aimed at solving cold cases

Emily Kline, a Washington D.C. area artist, applies clay to a facial reconstruction of a Florida cold case during a work shop at the University of South Florida ono Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. Forensic artists from across the country are at USF constructing models of dead people during the week long event which will end with the unveiling of the heads and a press conference. [Times files]
Published Oct. 26, 2018

Twenty-one unidentified people who have died around the country will have their heads recreated as clay busts and displayed publicly at the Tampa Bay History Center in hopes that their identities can be determined years later.

The people whose busts are being recreated come mostly from unsolved homicides, according to the Tampa Police Department. The goal for Art of Forensics: Solving the Nation's Cold Cases is that someone will recognize the faces and give investigators a name. Then, in turn, bring closure to the victims' families.

The faces, created from skeletal remains and postmortem photos, will be available for public viewing in Tampa through Nov. 27.

The Tampa Police Department will have busts created for four of its unsolved cases -- two from the 1970s and one from both the 80s and 90s -- that will include two potential homicides, an apparent suicide and a man who died in a fire. All four were buried in "John Doe" graves.

The exhibit was put together and will be hosted by the University of South Florida's Institute of Forensic Anthropology & Applied Science, which has had success identifying people in past events it has hosted.

One success story came in 2016, where a woman successfully identified her sister, Brenda Williams, who was found dead and decomposing in 1985. Investigators at the time concluded that the woman was killed, but could not collect usable fingerprints to identify her. Her sister entered the event in 2016 and recognized the woman's bust immediately, running to it with a photo in hand.

Upon further investigation, authorities confirmed Williams was the woman's sister. A proper burial for Williams was held days later.

More information about this year's event and about USF's program can be found here.


Tampa woman hopes USF forensic event has turned up her missing sister

A bust, DNA sample, and answer to 40-year-old Tampa cold case

Forensic artist uses cracked skull as a canvas to solve unknown boy's 2009 cold case

Contact Josh Fiallo at Follow @ByJoshFiallo.


  1. A 20-year-old Plant City man was seriously injured Thursday night after he lost control of the car he was driving on the Selmon Expressway and hit a guardrail, which Florida Highway Patrol troopers said “impaled” the car. FHP
    The driver was taken to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries.
  2. A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Olivia Pruna, a student at Nina Harris Exceptional Student Education Center, practices with the school's drum line last year. The Pinellas County school district is asking parents and others for suggestions on ways to improve exceptional student education in the county. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  4. A sign seen on the front door of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria in March, after owner Tom Woodard stopped serving drinks with plastic straws. The St. Petersburg City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday night to ban single-use plastic straws. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The City Council tweaked its own ordinance banning single-use plastic straws, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
  5. Student activists with the March For Our Lives group, founded after the Feb. 2018 Parkland shooting, hold a banner that promotes their new "peace plan" to prevent gun violence, while demonstrating in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Tallahassee. Emily L. Mahoney | Times
    The 18-year-old student director of March for Our Lives Florida said school shootings are so common they are “not shocking” anymore.
  6. Steven Currall prepares to deliver an address during his investiture as the University of South Florida's seventh president Thursday at the Yuengling Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Though he started the job in July, Steve Currall is officially installed as president on his 137th day in office.
  7. Apollo Global Management has offered $130 per share for Tech Data's stock in an acquisition worth $5.4 billion. If regulators shareholders approve, the home-grown company will remain based in Pinellas County, where it employs 2,000 of its 14,000 workers. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Private equity firms like Apollo create wealth for pension funds, financial institutions and individual investors by buying assets that typically are sold later at a profit.
  8. Some of Tampa Bay's largest companies are being sold or are up for sale. Times files and Bloomin' Brands
    Tech Data is just the latest in a growing list of public companies bought up by out-of-state firms.
  9. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  10. The "#9pmroutine" is a core social media feature for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Now, the agency has a copyright on it. Facebook
    Copyrighting a key part of the agency’s social media presence isn’t meant to limit its reach, the office said, but rather to stop bad actors.