New sketch artist with Houston police helps solve crimes

By Courtney Gilmore - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Inside the yellow tape of every crime scene, there's a story.

But if the suspect is still on the run, closure for the detectives and victims is hard to come by.

Where the evidence stops, a pencil stroke picks up.

Theresa Whitten, a new sketch artist with the Houston Police Department, uses the victim's memory to guide her hands.

"The first feature on their face that they noticed, usually it's the eyes," Whitten said. "When I do a sketch, I feel like my hands are a tool. You have to really have a passion for people who have beenĀ  victimized."

Her gift of artistry and knowledge of anatomy can produce the face of a wanted suspect.

Efrain Arijona, who works as a detective in HPD's robbery division, says Teresa doesn't wear a uniform but her work is key to solving crimes.

"For the victim it gives them a lot of hope," Arijona said. "It can make the case. They are lifesavers. A lot of times we don't have anything, and that sketch that they produce opens the door to a lot of information and a lot of times we make arrests on just a sketch."

One of Teresa's sketch led to an arrest of a man who investigators say was hiding out in Mexico for 20 years. After she used age progression techniques to produce this sketch, a cold case was put to rest 3 and 1/2 months later.

Her work has also helped lead to the arerst of suspects accused of armed robbery, sexual assault and murder.

"I look at as God gives everybody a gift, and my gift is that I can draw," she said. "It's my responsibility to develop that."

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