Nova Scotia

RCMP release image of mystery man whose body washed up on N.S. beach

Nova Scotia RCMP are asking for help identifying a middle-aged man whose body was found in Sandy Cove, N.S., last September.

New York Academy of Arts helping reconstruct faces based on skulls

The New York Academy of Art provided a reconstruction of the face of a man whose body washed up on Sandy Cove Beach, N.S. (Charity Sampson Photography)

RCMP investigators are hoping someone will be able to identify a dead man with the help of an image based on the reconstruction of a skull found on Sandy Cove Beach, N.S., last September.

The man's body is believed to have washed ashore and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service determined he was likely between the age of 30 and 60. It's not known if he lived in Nova Scotia.

Technicians from the National Research Council conducted a scan of the man's skull, according to police. They were able to print a 3D version of the skull with a type of nylon, which was then shared with the New York Academy of Art.

The academy runs a forensic reconstruction workshop that creates faces for unidentified skulls. The program had caught the attention of RCMP Cpl. Charity Sampson, a victim identification specialist who previously studied digital imaging.

She had approached her colleagues in Ottawa about a partnership, and said the B.C. Coroners Service and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service selected the specific skulls that have been reconstructed.

"We need a really good quality skull in order to make a really good replica for the artists to work on," she told CBC's Information Morning

Finished forensic reconstructions are shown at the New York Academy of Art. Since 2015, four visual identifications have been made through workshop reconstructions. (New York Academy of Art)

Sculptors spent last week working to put faces on 3D-printed copies of skulls from the remains of 15 unidentified men found in Canada. The academy started working with law enforcement agencies in 2015 and the workshops have led to the identification of four people.

The students are trained in human anatomy, so they apply the facial muscles first and then start building the facial tissues using whatever information is available about a person's age, gender, weight and ethnic background, as well as the particular shape of a cheekbone or nasal area.

"You can see that they are all very unique," said John Volk, director of continuing studies at the academy. "Each one is an individual. These landmarks, their protrusions on everybody's skulls really identify us as we are.

"There is no amount of artistic license that is allowed in this class at all. You must, everything has to come out of the skull."

A 3D copy of a skull from an unidentified man whose remains were found in West Vancouver (Submitted by Adam Lupton)

This is the first time the RCMP's National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains has worked with artists in the program.

They're hoping that facial reconstruction will succeed when fingerprinting or DNA testing does not identify a person. 

Police are encouraging people to look at the online profiles in case one stands out.

"You may see someone that you recognize, and you may not even have known they were missing. They may never have been reported missing. Sometimes people leave home and they meet their fate and no one knows they've died," said Samson. 

Anyone with information on the unknown man is asked to contact the Digby RCMP detachment, Crime Stoppers or the medical examiner's office. 

Last week police released photos of the man's jeans and boot

Earlier this month, police released this photo of the pants of the man who was found in Digby County. (Nova Scotia RCMP)

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With files from Information Morning Halifax

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