Police using 3-D facial reconstruction to help identify body found in 2010

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 3:38am

Hong Kong detectives are using a three-dimensional facial reconstruction for the first time to help them identify a body found in 2010.

Police hope the technique, often seen on television forensic crime dramas, will help them name an unidentified man whose badly decomposed body was found in Sai Kung two years ago.

The chained and decomposed body of the man was found in a stream bed by a hiker on a remote hillside on May 16, 2010. Three-quarters of the body had been reduced to skeletal remains.

Some evidence on the body suggested the victim was an illegal mainland immigrant. The Kowloon East regional crime unit sought help from mainland authorities in an attempt to establish his identity. Now, after several months' work and at a cost of HK$50,000, they can show them a face.

"After studying the skull and teeth, a Hong Kong dental specialist made a clay model of the victim's face and head," Superintendent Kevin Sin Chi-sing of Kowloon East regional crime unit said. "It was then sent to Australia, where the colouring was done."

The model was scanned into a computer, where it was coloured digitally and a photographic image was produced.

Police are using the photo-reconstruction with their offer of a HK$300,000 reward for information to solve the case. Sin said the reward was a "last resort" as police were short of leads. He hoped the facial reconstruction could help identify the victim and elicit more information.

The man is thought to have been between 20 and 40 years old, about 1.63 metres tall and was wearing two long-sleeved T-shirts in beige and brown, a long-sleeved blue jacket and a pair of dark trousers.

His hands and legs had been bound with metal chains and three padlocks while another padlock and six yuan were found in his trouser pocket. No identification papers or personal belongings were found at the scene. The time of death was estimated between February and May 2010.

The cause of death could not be ascertained and police have classified the case as one of manslaughter until they have further evidence. "As the man was chained and no suspicious wounds were found in the body, it is possible that he starved to death," the superintendent said.