Cops Rely on Sketch to Find Abandoned Baby's Parents

PHOTO: The Harris County Sheriffs Office has released these composite sketches of what the parents of an abandoned newborn may look like. "Baby Chloe" was discovered, Feb. 19, 2013, in Houston, Tex.

Police in Texas, searching for the parents of a week-old baby abandoned in a plastic bag, have released an artist's sketch of what the parents might look like based solely on a photograph of the infant girl.

The newborn, named Chloe by rescuers, was found by a dog walker in a plastic shopping bag on a dead-end street near an apartment complex in Cypress, Texas. No one witnessed the baby's being abandoned, and cops have few clues to help find the parents, now wanted for child endangerment.

A forensic artist, who typically makes composite sketches of suspected criminals based on eyewitness descriptions and age-progression illustrations of missing children, created the sketches, said Christina Garza, spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

This appears to be the first time police have tried to find an abandoned child's parents by creating a sketch based solely on the child's likeness.

"The artist took a photo of the week-old baby and did an age progression of what the baby would like and from there, what the mother and father would look like," Garza told

But forensic art experts were extremely skeptical that the artist could render reliable likenesses of the parents based only on a week-old baby's image.

"I doubt [the sketches] are going to be accurate at all … not even in the ballpark of likeness," said Steve Loftin, head of the forensic imaging unit at the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"Trying to add years to a baby's face without any reference at all -- we could not do that and be sure of any accuracy," he said.

When forensic artists make age progressions of missing children, they typically use images of the parents when they were children. In this case, the artist is essentially working backwards and with none of the necessary source images to create a composite, Loftin said.

Furthermore, the face of an infant that age has barely developed and there would be few clues an artist could use to interpret what the parents would look like, he said.

As a result, he said, the parents' rendered faces appear to be childlike.

The police are "really reaching for straws" if they're basing their search on these pictures alone, Loftin said.

The cops in Texas acknowledge that they have little else to work on, and are hoping someone comes forward.

"We're hoping the parents do look like the sketches," Garza said. "But we're relying on someone who knows something to come forward."

Baby Chloe remains in the custody of child services.

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