In an attempt to solve cold cases, six new facial reconstructions will be unveiled to help with identifications.
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 18, 2023) – University of South Florida researchers, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies and the Florida Sheriff’s Association Cold Case Commission, will host the second annual Missing in Florida Day on Thursday, Oct. 19. The goal of the event is to help solve violent crime cold cases through anthropology, scientific research, education and forensic art.
Erin Kimmerle, director of the Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science at USF, will speak to media, along with Citrus County Sheriff Michael Prendergast. Several families of missing persons will also be in attendance and can share their experiences in the long-term search for their loved ones. This includes Donna Pettis, the daughter of Don Lewis (who was featured in the Netflix series “Tiger King”), who went missing in 1997 from Tampa, as well as Drew and Joyce Kesse, the parents of Jennifer Kesse, who went missing in 2006 from Orlando.
Kimmerle will also unveil six new digital facial reconstructions created from skeletal remains and/or autopsy photographs. These reconstructions will assist families with making possible identifications. An example from a previous case in shown to the left.
This statewide initiative provides resources to the families of missing persons and spreads awareness about cases in Florida. At the event family members can file a missing persons report, update biometrics and submit DNA samples for genetic testing for new and existing cases at no cost. All missing persons reports will be entered into the system regardless of jurisdiction.
Representatives from law enforcement agencies across the state — including sheriff’s offices from Hillsborough, Hernando and Citrus counties, the Tampa Police Department and the St. Petersburg Police Department — will also be in attendance.
This event is free and open to the public. More details, including a rundown of the day and full list of speakers, can be found here.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a high-impact research university dedicated to student success and committed to community engagement, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. With campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF serves approximately 50,000 students who represent nearly 150 different countries. U.S. News & World Report has ranked USF as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities for five consecutive years, and this year USF earned its highest ranking ever among all universities public or private. In 2023, USF became the first public university in Florida in nearly 40 years to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of the leading universities in the United States and Canada. Through hundreds of millions of dollars in research activity each year and as one of the top universities in the world for securing new patents, USF is a leader in solving global problems and improving lives. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.