Ohio Cold Case Update: Jane Doe Identified and Alleged Killers Behind Bars, Thanks to 3D Printing and Facial Reconstruction
Last month, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office released images of a 3D printed, reconstructed head and face of an unidentified woman whose skeletal remains were found this summer, not terribly far from where I live in Dayton. The remains were discovered in the woods in Spring Valley Township, and while authorities were able to determine her race, approximate age and height, and her gender, they were unable to identify her, even through the use of DNA and dental testing. A forensic artist and criminal intelligence analyst with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) teamed up with the Digital Union at The Ohio State University to use their 3D printer in order to craft a model of the woman’s skull. This is the first Ohio case in years to use this specialized forensic technology, and it has finally paid off.
Soon after images of the clay model of the woman’s 3D printed and reconstructed face were released to the public, a positive identification was made, and the people responsible for her death are behind bars. Florida resident Tiffany Dawn Chambers, 33 years old at the time of her death, was last seen in Springfield in July of 2015, before her remains were discovered nearly a year later. Thanks to the wonders of 3D printing, the homicide investigation could finally begin.
DeWine said, “Now we know the identify of this woman, and law enforcement can begin the task of finding out what happened to her.”
In late 2016, BCI’s Samantha Molnar brought a CT scan of Chambers’s skull to the Digital Union at OSU, and it took their MakerBot Replicator 72 hours to 3D print the skull in three sections, using PLA filament. Then she used her gift for “reading” the skull and created the shape of her face to make it look more lifelike, in the hopes someone would recognize her and be able to offer an identification.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fisher told WHIO last month, “The technology available today is so much more advanced than 25 years ago when I got into law enforcement.”
Molnar’s hard work obviously paid off, as Chambers was identified soon after images of the clay model of her face were released to the public. But now, her family and friends have to deal with the hard reality that Chambers will never be coming home.
A friend of Chambers, who did not wish to be identified, told Jacksonville, FL reporter Deanna Bettineschi, “Tiffany Dawn Chambers was not just my friend, a sister. I loved her so much since high school she was a sweet person who got into hanging out with the wrong people. I’ve been looking for her for about a year, have tried everything. When I saw the link that another person sent me this morning I was in tears. About a year ago Tiffany called two friends and let them know she was in danger. While she was saying that someone entered the room and said, ‘Who are you talking to did you tell anyone,’ and she hung up. That was the last time anyone heard from her I miss her so much I love her so much, please help us find her murderer.”
Just last week, her plea was answered, when Springfield police “arrested a suspect in connection to the death of Tiffany Chambers, according to court records.” 34-year-old Hannah M. Whitman, who was arrested and booked into the Clark County jail, was charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of complicity to aggravated murder, because she “did knowingly and willingly participate in the killing of the victim with prior calculation and design, and then assisted in disposing of the body.”
Court records also indicate that 35-year-old Prentiss R. Hare has been “charged with one count of aggravated murder” in this case. Hare, who was convicted of a different, unrelated murder last month, and is awaiting trial on a rape count, was already in the Clark County jail when authorities arrested Whitman; looking at his lengthy jail history, I’d say it’s a pretty good thing the police have this man in custody and off the streets.
The court document states: “Whitman is Hare’s girlfriend, and the couple traveled to Springfield from Jacksonville, Florida in July 2015. The duo had planned to kill Chambers because she owed Hare an unknown amount of money. They killed her behind a building in the 100 block of West Pleasant Street in Springfield and transported her body to a wooded area in Greene County where the victim’s bones were found 10 months later.”
I am proud of the role that 3D printing played in this case, helping authorities put a face, and eventually a name, to a previously unidentified woman. While justice here is bittersweet, at least the family and friends of Tiffany Dawn Chambers have some closure in knowing what happened to her. Discuss in the Cold Case forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: Dayton Daily News / WHIO]
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