Lois Gibson keeps her listeners in awe
Lois Gibson, forensic artist and author, talked to packed house at the Lutcher Theater Thursday evening.
Gibson is an accomplished forensic artist and according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the World’s Most Successful Forensic Artist and has solved more than 1,200 cases.
During her talk, she gave a Powerpoint presentation with photos of her drawings and of the actual person. At times the audience gasped since her drawings were so close to the photo of the actual person.
But, she admits it’s not a perfect system and her drawings are only as good as the victim’s memory. However, most victims say they can’t remember a thing but are still able to reach into their memories and together a sketch is created.
Gibson has had many times in her life where her work has been life-changing not only for the victims but for herself as well. But, the biggest moment of her life is when she discovered she could do this type of work. She sent a friend out to look at someone and come back with a description of them.
‘It is so difficult to draw something you can’t see,” she said. “But, I’ve always loved to draw and that’s what I wanted to do. “
She added, even though she didn’t go to medical school, she could still save lives. She said she knew in her heart she could do this. She was watching the news with a friend and they had the same generic description of the suspect.
“Five foot ten, brown hair, brown eyes,” she said. “That could be anybody.”
So, she sent her friend to a local gas station. When her friend returned she described a man at a local gas station. Once the drawing once complete, together they returned to the station and she pulled out the sketch. The attendant walked out of the office and immediately she knew it was the man since it was a total match.
“I collapsed on the pump and cried with relief,” Gibson said.
The man was shocked when he saw the drawing since he knew she had not been there before.
From then on, a career of helping others was born.
The Baby Grace case had many people wondering about the young girl’s identity. The body of a toddler was found on October 2007 when a fisherman discovered the body in a blue Sterilite plastic container on an uninhabited island in Galveston’s West Bay. Police dubbed the dead girl “Baby Grace,” and asked the public for help in identifying her.
Gibson went to the morgue to see the tiny girl’s body. She took the pictures home and later created the sketch. The drawing was then broadcast across the nation. Within three days Baby Grace’s grandmother in Ohio called to inquire if she could possibly be her granddaughter. It was later proven her worst fears were true and the body of 2-year-old Riley Sawyers.
Gibson is the author of “Faces of Evil,” a true-crime book which details her most gripping cases. The book is riveting as she not only lays out her personal life even during the difficult times, but of her cases as well.
But, although she still works on solving crimes, she wants others to learn how to do the same.
“My new mission is to teach other artists,” she said.
According to Gibson, there are only 26 forensic artists in the country.
“We need forensic artists in this country,” Gibson said. “The computer generated images police produce do not work.”
She added, fingerprint experts solve about 10 percent of the crimes they work on, but a forensic artist has a 30 percent success rate.
Gibson also wrote the first textbook teaching of her profession titled Forensic Art Essentials. Gibson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the FBI Academy Forensic Art Course. Currently, she teaches forensic art courses at Northwestern University Center for Public Safety in Evanston, Ill. In addition, Gibson has been featured on segments of TRU TV’s Forensic Files and A & E’s The First 48. In the near future she will teach a class at the University of Houston and has limited openings.
Following Gibson’s presentation, the museum hosted an exhibition celebration and reception with light refreshments along with a signing of her book “Faces of Evil.” However, they ran out of her books for her to autograph.
A copy of her book is available on www.amazon.com
Keli Graham talks with Lois Gibson while asking her to sign a copy of her book. RECORD PHOTO: Debby Schamber.