The reconstruction of a skull found near Lytton in 2016 (l), which police hope will jog someone’s memory. (Photo credit: RCMP)

Unidentified remains found near Lytton part of new investigation

Police hope the reconstruction will help them identify the man, whose remains were found in 2016

“Cold cases” have become a staple of crime fiction, but they are all-too-real for police forces across the country. In B.C. there are currently 179 unidentified human remains investigations open, and there are more than 700 unidentified remains in the RCMP’s national database of missing persons and unidentified remains.

Thanks to a partnership between the BC Coroners Service, the RCMP, and the New York Academy of the Arts, police now have a new tool to help them in their investigations: 3D facial reconstructions using the skulls from 14 unidentified human remains investigations in B.C. (including one from near Lytton).

The BC Coroners Service provided the RCMP with skulls from 14 investigations dating back to 1972. The skulls were then recreated with 3D printing and transported to the New York Academy of the Arts, where students at the academy’s forensic sculpture workshop reconstructed the faces under the guidance of Joe Mullins, a senior forensic artist with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the U.S.

The BC Coroners Service provided information such as sex, ethnicity, and height for the unidentified human remains investigations. Armed with that knowledge, as well as their anatomical expertise and artistic skills, the students spent the week reconstructing the faces by applying clay to 3D-printed versions of actual skulls.

The Lytton case involves a Caucasian male aged 25 to 40 whose remains were discovered in a forested area northeast of Lytton on March 8, 2016. It is estimated that the remains had been there for between five and 10 years.

The New York Academy of Art has hosted its forensic sculpture workshop annually since 2015. During that time, four visual identifications have been directly attributed to facial reconstructions performed during the workshop.

“The 14 skulls are part of the B.C. inventory of cold cases,” says Eric Petit, director, Special Investigations Unit, BC Coroners Service. “These are investigations where we have reached an impasse in terms of identifying the deceased individuals.”

Traditionally, when human remains are found, investigators use a variety of methods to identify the person. They may compare the remains to descriptions of reported missing persons, send samples for DNA testing, or search dental records. While these methods often yield results, police, coroners, and medical examiners might turn to more creative methods when they are unsuccessful.

In March 2019 the BC Coroners Service released an interactive map of the province with the location and details of unidentified human remains cases dating back to 1953, in the hope that the information might spark someone’s memory.

READ MORE: Map charts unsolved human remains cases from Port Hardy to Terrace

Details of the 2016 Lytton case are included on the map, as are the details for two cases between Lytton and Lillooet from 1962 and 1988 and one case in Cache Creek from 1994.

Petit says that the partnership with the New York Academy of the Arts is a unique opportunity to try to bring new light to otherwise stalled investigations. “Our hope is that these reconstructions will trigger a memory that results in someone connecting with us or the RCMP, which will lead us to identifying these individuals.”

“This collaborative project builds on other identification tools, including our unidentified human remains viewer, to help us close cold cases in our province.”

To see the reconstructions and profiles, go to the Canada’s Missing website at To view the interactive map, go to

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Policeunsolved crimes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


A close-up look at the reconstruction of the face of an unidentified man whose remains were found near Lytton. (Photo credit: RCMP)

Just Posted

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Most Read