Technology may help investigators combat their worst enemy: time.
Investigators didn't have to guess what Buddy Myers might look like today - two and a half years after he was reported missing. Age-progression technology predicted how Buddy would look at age 6 and compared it to a photo of the boy found in Chicago.
WRAL asked people on the Fayetteville Street Mall: Would you recognize this child?
"To me," said Wake County resident Lloyd Moore, "the first thing that strikes me are the ears are very similar and the shape of the nose is also interesting. Very similar."
Said Wake County resident Diane Crispin: "The hair color and eyebrows look different. Even his smile looks different."
The pictures also were shown to Perry Stewart, who runs the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons.
"As I look at it, it's uncanny," Stewart said. "It's miraculous what technology can do to assist in the search for a missing child."
Experts know a child's face develops dramatically until the age of 7, when it is 75-percent formed. Computer science and genetics help fill out the picture. The results can be enhanced if the expert has pictures of the mother and father from an earlier age.
Age-progression technology is so specialized that local authorities use out-of-state experts. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia has created more than 1,600 photos.
There is some guesswork involved. Stewart said that, in the right hands, technology can be a powerful tool in bringing missing children home.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.