The art of catching a criminal: sketch artists

When a construction site became a crime scene in August, one worker found himself with an unexpected task. That worker, who asked only to be identified as Serge, got a quick look at the man who shot at and robbed his boss as they arrived to hand out the day’s pay. 

It was enough information to help Corporal Chris Seggi of the Orlando Police Department’s come up with an image of the suspect.

Seggi is the department’s only forensic artist. 

He helped FOX 35 understand what witnesses and victims can do help create a sketch that could lead officers to a bad guy. 

Serge said he talked to the suspect at the construction site for less than the minute.

"I remember he had gold teeth and the [his] lips...[were memorable] to me because he had unusually large lips,” Serge recalled. 

He was able to describe some stand-out features to Seggi.  

“Once you start talking about it, once you start reliving it, your subconscious mind will kick in.  To where when we start looking at images and noses and eyes and mouth and ears, you'll recognize it,” Seggi said. 

He helps witnesses recall suspects feature by feature using a catalogue of images to find the features that ultimately make up the face that resembles the criminal. 

"It's not like you see on TV.  You don't have to sit here and explain,” Seggi said. 

If one were to see a sketch and a mug shot of a suspect side by side he or she would notice the sketch process doesn’t produce a perfect portrait of the suspect. 

“This is a likeness.  It’s going to resemble him,” Seggi said. 

But the features help make the connection between the sketch and the actual person. 

Seggi said the best thing a witness can do is remember a feature that is unique to the suspect such as an earring or a tattoo or a scar.   

"What we look for and hope for is maybe someone will say: hey, that guy with that lip ring or that guy with that hairstyle, that looks like someone I know and lives in the area where the crime [was] committed,” Seggi said. 

Serge recalled that the construction site criminal had large lips, a round face, and tear drops tattooed next to his eye. 

 “I did a good job,” Serge said when FOX 35 showed him the man’s mugshot and the sketch Serge helped create side by side.