Doctor helps Ambernath police put a face on beheaded man's body found in forest

Jun 01, 2018, 07:15 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

By using mathematical calculations on dimensional clay restoration, Dr Hemlata Pandey and other forensic experts on her team at KEM hospital are making the deceased man's face on a replicated skull to help Ambernath police identity the victim

Dr Hemlata Pandey
Dr Hemlata Pandey

Forensic odontologist Dr Hemlata Pandey is tackling a case straight out of a true-crime TV show. She is attempting to reconstruct the face of an unidentified murder victim, who was beheaded, skinned and left in a forest in Ambernath.

By using mathematical calculations on dimensional clay restoration, Dr Pandey and other forensic experts on her team at KEM hospital are making the deceased man's face on a replicated skull to help Ambernath police identity the victim.

Stabbed to death
The cops found the half-decomposed body of the man around 20 days ago in a forested patch in Ambernath. As per the initial investigation, the unidentified man was stabbed to death four-five days prior to the discovery of the body. After being murdered, his killer(s) skinned off the upper layer of the face to cover up his identity.

Narendra Patil, investigating officer of the case said, "When we found the body, it only had a cloth covering the genitals. We couldn't find any ID card to identify him. In fact, the murderer had taken the skin off his face, so there was no way for us to recognise it or take a photo of the victim to send it to other police stations for identification. Despite enquiring for several days, we couldn't get a lead."

With no other option in hand and considering the grievous nature of the crime, the police station sent the skull to KEM hospital for facial reconstruction. Dr Pandey, the only forensic odontologist in the state, took up the project to give a face to the skull in order to identify the man.

PoP goes the skull
Dr Pandey told mid-day, "We got the half-decomposed skull a few days ago with no upper layer of the skin, that gives every individual their facial classification. I had to boil the skull and remove the decomposed flesh to get a clean skull and create a replica of it with plaster of Paris, as I don't want to cause any marks on the real one. It would take at least a week to form it as it requires too many calculations."

So, how is it done? Firstly, the skull is boiled in water with cleansers. Then, its imprint is taken in plaster of Paris to get an exact copy of the skull model. Following this, facial muscles will be layered on the skull to form temporalis, masseter, buccinator and occipito-frontals, all varied types of facial muscles. In the second process, which is the most challenging, the lips and nose will be made. "These calculations include artistry, anthropology and anatomy. The lips are normally made calculating the width of the interpupillary distance. But again, it varies according to age, gender and geographical locations. Similarly, the nose is constructed by measuring the width of the nasal aperture and the nasal spine," said Dr Pandey.

Last hope
The reconstructed face is also given eyes, along with hair on the head. This procedure might not be able to provide 100 per cent accurate representation of the victim, but will help in giving a closer identification.

A senior police officer from Ambernath police station said, "The facial reconstruction is our last hope for identification. This might help us get the closest facial portfolio of the victim. We have also given two of his teeth for DNA testing."

Also Read: Mumbai Crime: Family Kill Neighbour Over Construction Noise In Ambernath

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