Cracking the Case: Local Anthropologist Uses Forensic Art to Help Solve John Doe Case

There are more than 400 missing persons cases in Ohio currently, and more than 100 of them are John or Jane Doe cases. One of those cases, referred to as the Cleveland Harbor John Doe, now has a better chance of being solved, thanks to Kent State University Associate Professor of Anthropology Linda Spurlock, Ph.D. 

Cleveland Harbor John Doe was found in Lake Erie by boaters in 2014. According to a report from Channel 19 News, the man was still wearing jeans, black work boots and a belt when his body was found caught in a break wall at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland Harbor.

Watch Spurlock's interview with Channel 19 News about Cleveland Harbor John Doe.

Now, thanks to the forensic artistry of Linda Spurlock, investigators have a sketch of the man’s possible likeness. A specialist in facial reconstruction, Spurlock thinks like a detective when examining a skull to notice what stands out and what it may tell us about the person’s life.

In this instance, Spurlock noticed what the state of the man’s teeth, mouth and nose could tell us about him and what he might have looked like.

“You can see I put a shadow under his brow ridge. He definitely would have had that, there’s certain things that you just definitely know. And my most exciting feature on his skull was the fact that his nose had been broken and then healed crooked while he was alive,” Spurlock told Channel 19.

Watch Spurlock talk about her work as a forensic artist.



POSTED: Monday, February 19, 2024 02:36 PM
Updated: Monday, February 19, 2024 03:23 PM
Amy Antenora
Linda Spurlock, Ph.D., and Kent State University