Question for Sketch Artists

April 13, 2010

I watch a lot of crime dramas where a sketch by a sketch artist turns out to be the key to identifying/locating/arresting the suspect.  Without a Trace witnesses used to be particularly adept at describing suspects to sketch artists.  Is this really how it works?  Are witnesses really able to describe suspects so perfectly?  Or are sketch artists just really, really good at interpreting guesswork?  Because let me tell you right now, if I had to describe almost anyone – even someone I knew well! – to a sketch artist, they would not get an accurate picture of what the person looked like.  So all you criminals out there, there’s nothing to worry about if I am ever a witness to your crimes!  No one will ever find you because of me!  (Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting to that…)

I can only think of one show where a witness was unable to produce any type of description, and that was an episode of NCIS.  Jimmy Palmer, the assistant ME, saw the murderer and could never describe him afterwards.

Any other examples?  Does anyone know the answers to my questions?


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