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Linda Budinoff Spurlock
I am a biological anthropologist who specializes in forensic art and scientific illustration, and I am a professional archaeologist. My Ph.D. is from Kent State University, School of Biomedical Sciences. While in this program I received training in human gross anatomy, and later taught this course, at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM), in Rootstown, Ohio. I also received advanced training in osteology from Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, at Kent State University.
In the late 1980s I first became interested in facial reconstruction when I was working in Puerto Rico, conducting an osteological analysis of human bones from a prehistoric cemetery. Many of the skulls I handled were in excellent shape; even the nasal bones were well preserved on some, and I could easily imagine what the individuals may have looked like. At the time the literature on craniofacial reconstruction was not extensive; I could only find a few journal articles that explained the guidelines of how soft tissues fit onto skulls. I read these articles eagerly, and attempted some drawings of Lucayan Indians, the native people that Columbus met when he landed in the Bahamas in 1492.
The Lucayan people practiced artificial cranial deformation, which permanently flattened the back of their skulls.
In 1997 and 1998 I attended forensic art workshops given by Betty Pat. Gatliff and Karen T. Taylor (www.karenttaylor.com). These women are both pioneers in the field of craniofacial reconstruction, and their classes were so exciting and valuable that during those weeks I couldn’t sleep nights. Gatliff and Taylor are very interesting, thorough, and encouraging teachers. They helped me learn 3-D and 2-D reconstruction techniques, and I also learned composite sketch drawing and postmortem sketching from Taylor. Karen Taylor’s book Forensic Art and Illustration (CRC Press) is an extremely valuable resource.
Linda B. Spurlock during the Advanced Three-dimensional Facial Reconstruction Workshop,
Cleveland Institute of Art, Betty Pat. Gatliff, Instructor.
Left: Sculpture of the individual (an adult Black male in his 20s).
Right: Sculpture of the individual after he had been aged to his 70s.

After taking these workshops I began to work on more forensic facial reconstruction cases here in Ohio, and continue to do so. I usually provide two dimensional sketches, since this is quicker than sculpting the image. The ‘Deerfield Jane Doe’ case was solved in the summer of 2003, nine years after the young woman was reported missing.

Click here to view the forensic art from the case

There are times when sculpting a head is essential, as in 2000 when I modeled a head to simulate that of Marilyn Sheppard, for the Sheppard ‘retrial’. This was when the estate of Dr. Sam Sheppard sued the state of Ohio for the time Dr. Sheppard spent in prison, after being convicted of his wife’s murder. The head was used in forensic tests by Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, in an attempt to determine the weapon used in her murder.

For several years I worked as adjunct faculty at various colleges and universities here in northeast Ohio. Most importantly these include Kent State University, NEOUCOM, University of Akron, and Walsh University. At Kent State University I collaborated with a biological anthropologist colleague, Heather York, and we designed a class in Forensic Anthropology. The culmination of the course was the excavation of a mock crime scene (the burial of two large pigs dressed as humans and traumatized before burial). The pigs had been buried for more than six months prior to excavation, in very shallow graves, and were in advanced stages of decay. We invited Officer Paul Rocco from the Medina, Ohio P.D. to instruct the students how to delimit a crime scene, and York and I taught them how to find clandestine burials, and, most importantly, how to excavate a burial. In lab we cleaned and analyzed the bones, paying special attention to blunt and sharp-force trauma, gunshot wounds, and to the clues left on the clothing.

Click here to view mock crime sceen pictures of forensic anthropology class.

For five years I taught Anatomy and Physiology, and Environmental Science, at Stark State College (N. Canton, Ohio). I am now an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at Kent State University and teach courses in both Biological Anthropology and Archaeology.

For many years I have also been employed as a scientific illustrator. It is fascinating to work with scholars who need to show a particular point of anatomy, aspect of behavior, or want to reveal the morphology of an interesting artifact. I learn amazing facts about their research as we discuss what is important to emphasize in the drawings.

Click here to view scientific illustrations.

Although I have been primarily a biological anthropologist for many years, I am still active in the field of archaeology. In 2006 the book "Caves and Culture: 10,000 Years of Ohio History", edited by Linda Spurlock, Olaf Prufer and Thomas Pigott, was published by Kent State University Press.