Honorary Unsubscribe

Randy Cassingham’s Honorary Unsubscribe Recognizes the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Often Obscure People who Had an Impact on Our Lives.
These are the people you will wish you had known.

Recomposer

Frank Bender

A fine artist, Bender was particularly adept at life-like sculpture. In the 1970s, he accepted the challenge to try to recreate what a dead person looked like by rebuilding their face on a skull — a murder victim. Bender called himself a “recomposer of the decomposed”. When other investigative techniques fail (dental records, fingerprints, DNA, matching up a body with missing person reports, etc.), a few times per year a skull would show up in Bender’s mail from a police department somewhere, or the FBI. He would start putting on layers of clay, shaping it to what he thought the person might look like on the surface, above the foundation of bones (or a cast replica). He did about 40 in all over the years, guessing at skin and hair colors, and other features. He didn’t do it for the small fee he got. “He’s a fighter for justice,” said Ted Botha, who wrote a book about Bender, The Girl With the Crooked Nose, which chronicled Bender’s work to identify eight victims of a murder spree in Mexico. What was his success rate? “Not even he knows, because nobody actually tells him,” Botha said before Bender died. “The police departments don’t always come back to him afterwards; that’s one of the kind of bittersweet things about what he does.” But Bender knew of several successes, and it was apparently good enough for him. He died July 28 from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung linings. He was 70.

From This is True for 31 July 2011


Honorary Unsubscribe Books

HU BooksThe Early Writeups from This is True's popular Honorary Unsubscribe feature are now available for your Kindle (or Kindle software for your smartphone, tablet, or computer) as low-cost ebooks.

See details on Volume 1 (covering 1998 through 2000), Volume 2 (2001 through 2003), Volume 3 (2004 through 2006), and Volume 4 (2007 through 2009).

The honorees truly are the people you wish you had known.

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