How does National Center for Missing and Exploited Children create age progression photos?

Local News

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been working to bring missing kids home since 1984. 

But just how do they do it and how do they estimate the child progression photos?  

With each stroke of a digital paintbrush, an artist works to bring a young woman from Nashville home to her family.  

Lakisha Jones was 15-years-old when she vanished nearly 20 years ago.  

There is only one known picture of Jones and that is what Colin McNally uses to create an age progression photo.  

McNally supervises the forensic imaging unit at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“When you work on these cases, you really do become attached to them,” he said.  

The Jones case is one of nearly 7,000 age progressions created by the forensic imagining unit.  

With technology though, the artists are pushing their new abilities to new heights.  

“For us, our greatest tool is heredity – seeing what commonalities among family members share with the missing child,” McNally said.  

A robotic arm is used to recreate facial features from the remains of an unidentified child.  

“The hope is to be able to provide answers to families; many of whom have been searching for their children for many years,” he said.  

Since the center opened more than 30 years ago, it’s become a valuable tool to law enforcement across the country.  

The center believes it is making progress and child abductions are less frequent, with the number of missing children cases cut in half over the last 35 years.  

If you have information on any missing children’s case, call the Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.  

Click here to read more stories from our day-long project, “Missing Kid Mysteries.”

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