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Investigators Pin Hopes on Facial Reconstruction

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RALEIGH — Wake County investigators knew they had a tough case on their hands when they found a body dumped along Reedy Creek Park Road in August 1997.

The man had been stabbed multiple times. But investigators knew little else about him. Now they're hoping for a high-tech breakthrough.

Wake County investigators can't find a match for the murder victim's fingerprints; his face was badly decomposed, and his tattoos haven't helped identify him either.

Maj. Danny Bellamy says that's why theWake County Sheriff's Departmentdecided to send the skull to theFBI,who then forwarded it to the Smithsonian Institution.

Anthropologists there reconstructed the man's face by computer. The composite, released Thursday, shows the curves of the face, the hairline, and other features.

"Now it looks like a human being. What we had to deal with before did not," Bellamy says.

An initial composite, drawn by the City-County Bureau of Identification, was not as compelling.

Mike Grissom, an agent with the CCBI, says his office is committed to solving this case. "We work just as hard on a case like this," he says, "as if the president came to town and got shot."

The CCBI helped with the new composite, in part by delivering the man's head.

"We usually hand carry it to the FBI lab in Washington, D.C.," Grissom says. "In this case we had to send it up there."

The man's head will soon be reunited with the rest of his body at the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill. Investigators hope to attach a name to the face next. Eventually the man's body will be cremated.

If you believe you have seen the man in the composite, please call the Wake County Sheriff's Department.