Forensic sketch artist helps reunite siblings 32 years after separation

Siblings were ages 4, 2, 1 when separated after car crash

HOUSTON – In latest edition of the "Guinness Book of World Records," tucked away on page 150, is a Houston record holder: Forensic sketch artist Lois Gibson.

"I've been doing forensic art for 33 years," said Gibson.

She's helped solve a record 1,266 cases, like violent crimes and murders.

But after all these years, the one case that still gets Gibson emotional involves children.

"This case wasn't a murder or a rape, but a girl was missing her brothers that were taken away," she said.

The year was 1963. In Ohio, a mother of three young children died in a car wreck.

Tina Shiets, 4, went on to live with her grandparents.

But Shiets' younger brothers -- Chris, 1, and Chip, 2 -- were sent to foster care, eventually ending up in West Virginia.

"As a 4-year-old, you don't understand your mom is gone. You're never going to see her again. Your brothers are gone," said Shiets.

But Shiets never gave up hope she'd find her brothers.

"It was just a continual thing," said Shiets. "All my life, I wanted to find them. I just didn't know how to go about it until I was a teenager."

Shiets moved to Houston and kept up her search. She called everyone possible. Finally, she called the FBI, and someone there recommended Lois Gibson, who was employed as a forensic artist with the Houston Police Department.

"She looked for 16 years by the time she found me," said Gibson.

Gibson took the case.

With tears in her eyes, Gibson recalled, "I really wanted her to find her long lost brothers."

She worked with the one piece of evidence that Shiets had: Chris and Chip's baby pictures.

"I did age progressions of these 1- and 2-year-olds and extrapolated what they would appear like at age 31 and 32," said Gibson.

A national television program picked up the story. On the night of the broadcast, a tip came in and Shiets got to talk to her brother, Chris Schoolcraft, on the phone for the first time in decades.

"It was quite a surprise to me. I always remembered I had a sister, but everyone always told me I didn't," Schoolcraft said.

Shiets hopped on a plane to West Virginia to reunite with her brothers.

"We arrived there at 12:30 a.m. on Christmas morning," said Shiets. "(It was) the first time the three of us had been together again in 32 years. Everyone was hugging and crying and laughing. It was awesome."

"I just wanted to get to know her more, so I came here to Houston and I never went home," Schoolcraft said.

A look Gibson's sketches shows they're spot on to what the brothers look like today -- the eyes, the teeth and the chin.

"There were a lot of facial features, just the way that I look," Schoolcraft said. "It was pretty amazing."

Gibson only missed Schoolcraft's longer hair and mustache. After the reunion, Gibson later went back to her original sketch of him and added a mustache and longer hair.

It was almost a perfect match.

"On my death bed, I will think about how I brought together these baby brothers with their sisters when they were adults so they could have a family life," said Gibson. "This is so happy. This generated love with love. It got baby brothers back to their sister."


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