Video Credit: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office has released the first facial reconstruction of a young girl found deceased in a black suitcase in a field in Madisonville, Texas on Sept. 17, 2016. Investigators describe the girl as being white or Hispanic, between the ages of 2 and 6, and having dark hair. They also say the girl had a feeding tube and likely had a condition called micrognathia, which would have required continuous professional medical care.


Forensic artists from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created this facial reconstruction of a young girl found in a black zippered suitcase in Madisonville, Texas in September 2016. Investigators say she may be from the Southwest region of the United States, specifically Southeast Arizona, or a nearby region of Mexico. (Images: Courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

The new composite image was released in collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. According to the Center, the girl’s skeletal remains were placed in three garbage bags before being placed in the suitcase. She was wearing a Mon Petit brand pink dress and a Parent’s Choice brand diaper, and is estimated to have been deceased for 3 to 5 months before her remains were discovered. 

(Left) The Mon Petit brand dress found on the girl's body. (Right) The black zippered suitcase in which the girl's body was found concealed in three garbage bags. (Photos: Courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

Pollen analysis of the remains suggested that the girl was from the Southwest United States, most likely Southeast Arizona, or an adjacent region of Mexico, despite being found in Texas. The girl’s facial reconstruction was completed by NCMEC forensic artists using a CT scan of her skull.

Micrognathia, which authorities say the girl may have had, refers to a condition in which the lower jaw is smaller than normal, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This condition can interfere with eating, which may be why the girl was found with a feeding tube.

NCMEC forensic artists often create facial reconstructions of unidentified deceased children and teens, including in cases where only bones remain—facial reconstructions are created digitally, using inferences from bone structure and CT scans of remains. These reconstructions are typically created in grayscale, as skin and eye color may not be available, but a recent partnership with Parabon Nanolabs may allow NCMEC to include these details through DNA phenotyping.

Forensic palynology—the study of plant particles, including spores and pollen, to help solve crimes—is a highly specialized practice that has offered new leads in several forensic mysteries and cold cases, including the origins of the 1981 “Buckskin Girl” Jane Doe, who was discovered in Ohio wearing a buckskin poncho and was determined to be from the Northeast region of the United States 35 years after her death, and Baby Doe, later identified as 2-year-old Bella Bond, whose mother’s boyfriend was later convicted of second-degree murder for her death.