Age progression of missing or kidnapped victims could be revolutionary for cold cases

Kathar Bobbs, missing since 2012, age progression used. Supplied image

Kathar Bobbs, missing since 2012, age progression used. Supplied image

Published Mar 4, 2023


Cape Town - The last time her family saw her, Kautha Bobbs was a chubby-cheeked five-year-old.

Now an age progression picture thrust her into her teenage years, giving a glimpse of what she may look like today.

Kauthar was kidnapped in October 2012, In Mitchells Plain, while playing in a park.

Missing Children SA works closely with the Italian Missing Person’s Centre to create age progression images and Kauthar’s is one of the latest.

Missing Person SA director Bianca Van Aswegen, said the age progression is done by forensic anthropologists.

“As an organisation we have done some of our cold cases with age progression... What we do know is that there are specific facial markers that they use to do the age progression and also look into other family members such as parents and siblings to look for features that will be specific to the missing child.”

IT specialist and graphics artist Marlene Visser said attention to detail was important.

“Knowing the age of the missing person in their last photograph is important. It's crucial to obtain several clear unedited photos of the missing person. It's also equally important to get clear photos of their siblings and parents with similar features, to see the different stages of how they've aged through the years.

“If there are no such family photos available then it's not unknown for the artist to refer to their own personal collection of family photos to assist with the ageing process.

“While an adult's facial features have already developed, a child's face goes through a whole series of changes over the years. Their faces change shape, facial bones and teeth grow and develop, their skin texture changes (pimples, scars, etc).”

She said this is why speaking to family members was vital.

Le-Jeandre de Bruyn, who went missing in 2014, age progression used. supplied image

Leon Rossouw, a private investigator for Consulting Detectives often used the age progression to assist with his cases.

He shared images of missing persons, Glenn Wood from George who vanished 35 years ago and also that of Le-Jeandre de Bruyn who disappeared in 2014 in Wynberg.

“My message to everyone is to stop what you're doing and gather everyone in your immediate family together and one by one, take their picture from the chest up, make sure to do this yearly.”

Glenn Wood missing for over 34 years, age progression used. supplied image

Police spokesperson, Colonel Andre Traut said facial compilations and identikits are done at a national level.

The National Police Centre promised feedback and are yet to comment.

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