Jaycee Dugard Looks Like the Image Forensic Artists Created to Help Find Her

Jaycee Dugard Breaks Her Silence, Spokesman Says Shell Help Prosecutors

People magazine has made public the first image of Jaycee Dugard as an adult since the woman was kidnapped 18 years ago when she was just 11 years old.

On the cover of the magazine, which hits newsstands Friday, a smiling Dugard with long auburn tresses looks remarkably like the age-progression image forensic artists at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created to help in the search for the missing woman.

Click here to visit People magazine's Web site to see the cover and read more about the exclusive interview.

Though Dugard and the two children she had with her alleged kidnapper, Philip Garrido, ultimately were rescued thanks more to the quick thinking of a police officer who met the suspect in August than to the image, similar age-progression photos have been instrumental in the recovery of more than 900 missing children.

"The real photo of Jaycee and the age-progression are remarkably similar considering it's been 18 years," said Ernie Allen, president of the center.

Allen called the process by which forensic artists create digital versions of what a person might look like years after they went missing "half art and half science."

Short of her hair's color and style, Dugard had many of the facial features -- including the shape of her nose and mouth -- experts predicted should would when they created the digital image.

The NCMEC has been creating digital age-progressions of missing children since 1989, because, Allen said, "the public has a hard time imagining what a two-year-old might look like at six or eight years old and these images help the public recognize and identify missing children who have gotten older."

The center, which works in conjunction with the FBI and distributes the age-progression images through thousands of police departments and more than 400 private distributors that plaster the images on milk cartons, mass mailings and in well-trafficked public areas like Wal-Mart stores.

Forensic artists create a composite image using photos of the missing child, photos of the child's parents when they were the age the child would be today, images of the child's siblings and a vast database of 35,000 images of children of all races and ages.

The most important feature in creating an age-progression image of a young child over a long period of time is the growth in his skull and face, Allen said.

"If you look at the face of an infant, it's all skull and forehead. Over time, there is a lengthening of the skull. We use family photos to simulate that cranial-facial growth and then we select out features that are uniquely inherited," said Allen.

"That old saw that a child has his mother's eyes or father's nose is accurate more often than not," he said.

Before the image is completed and circulated, artists consult with the child's parents, particularly the mother, about personal tastes that might influence what the older child looks like since she was abducted.

"In some cases a parent might say: 'I'm sure my daughter would have bangs, or I think her hair would be longer," Allen said.

The NCMEC updates age-progression images every two years for children under 18 years old and every five years for adults older than 18. Though the center previously used specially designed software, today forensic artists at the center typically use the popular photo-effects software Adobe Photoshop.

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