TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side found some very important sculptures are being kept in storage. They’re facial reconstructions of unidentified victims found dead in Tampa Bay. There’s a push to get them into the public eye, but it could be a long process.
Right now, nine sculptures are being kept in a locked, vacant office in the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office.
“For one face, you could have a million people see it, but it’s not that one right person, the sister or the daughter, then it’s not going to make a difference,” said Erin Kimmerle, an associate professor of anthropology at USF.
PHOTOS: Forensically restored faces of 9 unidentified victims of cold cases
(click the photos for more case-specific images)
Kathleen Howarth knows what families of the unknowns are going through. Her father, George “Skip” Zelaya went missing in Citrus County 11 years ago.
“He was just a good guy. He would help anybody. He would do anything for anybody,” she said.
She just found out that bones, discovered in the woods in Homosassa nearly a year ago, are her father’s. She is just now starting the grieving process.
MAP: Locations where bodies of 9 unidentified victims were found
“Maybe I will never know how he died. And that may be something that I have to live with. But at least I have him back,” she explained.
There are hundreds of families in Florida still wondering what happened to their loved ones. That’s why it’s unfathomable these sculptures haven’t found a permanent home in public, where a family member could potentially see it and come forward. State Attorney Mark Ober believes the busts need to be on display.
“What we need is public awareness,” he said, “It could help catch a killer.”
Even though the remains were recovered throughout Tampa Bay, some of the victims could have come from out of state.
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