Transcript: The Police Artist | Dec 21, 1994

The host sits facing the camera. She is a woman in her fifties with short gray hair
who wears a flowery dress over a long-sleeved lilac blouse.

She says FOR PETER HIORT PETERSON,
POLICE WORK IS AN ART.
HE IS ONE OF ONLY
TWO FORENSIC ARTISTS
IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.
HE USES HIS TALENT AS
A POTTER, SCULPTOR,
AND PAINTER TO RECONSTRUCT
THE FACES OF CRIMINALS
AND CRIME VICTIMS
FOR THE RCMP.
AMONG HIS ART
MATERIALS?
SKELETONS, HUMAN REMAINS,
AND A COMPUTER
TO ELECTRONICALLY AGE
MISSING CHILDREN.
WE VISITED PETERSON
IN HIS STUDIO
AS HE WORKED ON
HIS LATEST CASE.

Sculptor's hands knead clay on a workbench.
Hiort works in a blue smock. He has a moustache and gray hair tied
in a bun behind his head.

Hiort says AS AN ARTIST, YOU BUILD UP
A LITTLE WORLD OF YOUR OWN,
A LITTLE CORNER OF
THE VISUAL PORTAL
THAT YOU'RE BUILDING ON.
IT'S ALMOST LIKE HAVING A
LITTLE GARDEN OF EDEN
OR A LITTLE GARDEN OF
HELL, WHATEVER,
AND YOU DO YOUR THING
WITHIN THAT ENVIRONMENT.

As he talks, samples of his work appear, including vases, drawings, paintings, and etchings.
Then a clay former for a human face, with one side sculpted and the other bare,
showing the clay support pegs, a staring eye and grinning teeth on a skull base.
Then he works on a skull, building a face onto it.

Hiort continues FROM THE POINT OF
VIEW OF AN ARTIST,
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED
IN THE EXPRESSION,
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED
IN PERSONALITY,
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED
IN A LOT OF THINGS
THAT ARE SORT OF
UNDERNEATH THE SURFACE.
BUT AS A POLICE ARTIST, YOU ARE
INTERESTED IN THE REAL THING,
THE REAL FACE, THE
PRECISION OF THE FACE,
THE DETAILS OF THE FACE.
WITH THE RCMP, THERE'S
SO MUCH THAT'S REAL.
THERE'S NO IMAGINARY WORLD
IN IT; BUT IN THE SAME TIME,
MY TRAINING IN SEEING
THINGS IS BENEFITTING
THE WORK AT RCMP.
I CAN SEE WHEN A FACE
IS PROPORTIONED WRONG.

He stands outdoors in a light gray sports jacket over a vertically pinstriped shirt and gray tie.

Hiort says AN ARTIST MAINLY HAS TO BE
REALLY LUCKY TO GET A JOB.
BUT I HAPPEN TO WORK IN AN ART
SCHOOL, OTTAWA SCHOOL OF ART,
WHERE RCMP CAME TO
THE SCHOOL AND SAID,
DO YOU KNOW ANY ARTISTS HERE
WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED
IN SUCH A JOB?
AND I CAME ON THAT LIST,
THANKS TO THE DIRECTOR
OF THE SCHOOL, AND I
APPLIED AND GOT THE JOB.
I WAS REALLY LUCKY!

In his workshop, he stands in front of a skull with eyes and teeth added.

Hiort says WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A YOUNG
LADY THAT WAS KILLED -
SHE WAS MURDERED -
THAT'S AS MUCH WE KNOW.
AND SHE WAS 16 YEARS
OF AGE AT THE TIME.
AND WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO IS
RECONSTRUCT HER FACIAL LOOK SO
THAT WE ARE ABLE TO USE THAT TO
FIND THE CRIMINAL, THE KILLER.
SO WHAT I AM DOING HERE
IS TO TAKE HER SKULL,
WHICH IS ALREADY CLEAN,
AND GLUE ON TISSUE MARKERS.
THE TISSUE MARKERS
WILL GIVE ME THE THICKNESS
OF THE SKIN AND MEAT
UNDERNEATH THE SKIN.
THAT DISTANCE, OR THOSE
MEASUREMENTS I GET
FROM STATISTICS THAT HAVE
BEEN DONE OVER MANY YEARS.
THE TOP OF THE SKULL HERE,
IT'S MUCH MORE ROUNDED
ON A WOMAN.
THE JAWS, THE ANGLE OF
THE JAW DOWN HERE, AGAIN,
IS NOT AS ANGULAR.
IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD,
THIS IS NOT AS POINTED
AS IT IS ON A MALE, BUT
THERE'S OTHER CLUES
THAT WOULD GIVE IT AWAY.
AND IN PLACES WHERE THE
SKULL IS REALLY FRAGILE,
LIKE INSIDE THE
CAVITIES OF THE EYES,
YOU FIRST PUT COTTON
IN SO THAT YOU DON'T
DAMAGE ANY OF THE BONES.
THERE'S SOME VERY
FINE LITTLE BONES
INSIDE THE NOSE AND
THE EYES.
AND OF COURSE YOU DON'T
WANT TO DAMAGE ANYTHING.
AND THEN YOU SLOWLY BUILD
UP TO THE TISSUE MARKERS.
IF YOU'RE JUST DOING
IT FROM THE MARKERS,
IF YOU'RE JUST DOING IT
FROM SCIENTIFIC DATA,
YOU GET AN IMAGE THAT
LOOKS PRETTY DEAD,
THAT LOOKS UNREAL.
I THINK THE ARTIST MIGHT
BE ABLE TO PUT INTO IT
THAT LAST LITTLE BIT THAT
MAKES OR BREAKS A CASE.
I THINK I HAVE A PERSON
IN MY MIND ALL THE TIME,
BUT AT THE SAME TIME YOU
SEE IT AS A VERY BEAUTIFUL
SCULPTURAL THING, FOR SURE.
YOU HAVE TO ADMIRE THE BEAUTY
OF THE HUMAN MECHANISM.
YOU GET A PERSONAL
RELATIONSHIP TO A GIRL
LIKE THIS SOMEHOW.
I CAN'T EXPLAIN WHY,
I GUESS IT'S JUST MY IMAGINATION
THAT IS RUNNING
AWAY WITH ME.
BUT I SORT OF
FEEL THAT I KNOW HER.

A middle-aged police officer comes in, in uniform. The caption reads “SGT. ROBERT SAUMURE - AYLMER, QUEBEC.”

Sgt. Saumure says YEAH WE'LL GIVE
YOU SOME PICTURES.
THIS IS THE
RECONSTRUCTION.
THIS IS THE BODY THAT WE -
ON THE 29TH - AND THIS
IS THE HEAD THAT WE DID THE
RECONSTRUCTION WITH THE ROPE.
YOU CAN SEE EXACTLY THAT
SHE WAS PROBABLY PULLED
WITH THE ROPE OR SOMETHING;
THERE WAS A USE FOR THE ROPE.
THIS IS THE BODY, YOU
SEE ALL THE BONES.

Hiort says THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT
YOU SAW EARLIER AND WHAT
YOU SEE NOW IS, OF COURSE,
A MATTER OF FINISH.
SO I FILL OUT ALL THE SPACES
IN BETWEEN THOSE TISSUE
MARKERS, SMOOTH OUT THE
CLAY AND I GOT TO MAKE
THE DETAILS OF THE FACE -
INSERTED THE OTHER GLASS EYE
AND PUT MAKE-UP ON, PUT HAIR
ON - IT'S AN OLDER CASE, YES.
SHE WAS BURIED
IN A SHALLOW GRAVE
FOR TEN YEARS AND
THEN FOUND.

The Sergeant, Hiort and another man sit
behind an oval table with papers and files on it.

Sgt. Saumure says WE ASKED THE RCMP TO
DO THE RECONSTRUCTION
IN 3-DIMENSIONS OF NATALIE,
SO WE WOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE
MAYBE A PERSON WHO HAD
CONTACT WITH HER
IN THE LAST DAYS
BEFORE HER DEATH.
AND SO THIS WAY
WE COULD HAVE MORE
INFORMATION AND MAYBE SOME
LEAD TO SOME ARRESTS.

A journalist asks HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU
TO DO THE RECONSTRUCTION?

Hiort says THE TOTAL THING
TOOK ME ABOUT A WEEK.

Sgt. Saumure says BEFORE WE WENT PUBLIC WITH
THIS WE HAD TO CALL
THE FAMILY AND THE
FATHER CAME DOWN.
WHEN HE HAD A REACTION
WHEN HE SAW THE FACIAL,
IT WAS A RECONSTRUCTION
FOR HIM, IT'S JUST LIKE
SEEING YOUR DAUGHTER
LIKE TEN YEARS AGO.

[excited chattering]

Hiort says I'M GLAD TO HEAR THAT
THE FAMILY, THE FATHER,
THINKS THAT THERE IS A
GREAT LIKENESS TO IT.
AND THEN I'VE
DONE A GOOD JOB.
IT'S NOT TO MAKE A PRETTY
PIECE OF SCULPTURE;
IT'S TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT
WILL WORK IN THIS CASE.

Hiort sits in front of a computer screening through photos of faces.

Hiort says I MEAN THAT'S THE
MAIN AIM OF IT.
PART OF WHAT I AM DOING
HAS TO DO WITH AGING,
AND IN PARTICULAR
AGING CHILDREN.
THERE'S CASES WHERE A FAMOUS
GOLF PLAYER HAD A MISSING
CHILD POSTER ON HIS GOLF BAG
THE CHILD HAD BEEN MISSING
FOR FOUR YEARS - AND A LADY
WATCHED TV SAID, OH, I KNOW
THIS CHILD, AND THE CHILD
WAS FOUND BECAUSE OF THIS.
AND THIS IS A YOUNG GIRL
THAT DISAPPEARED.
THEN SOME YEARS LATER IN
MOST CASES, TWO YEARS AFTER,
WE'LL TAKE A CASE AND CHANGE
HER LOOK TO WHAT SHE WOULD
HAVE - HOW SHE WOULD HAVE
CHANGED IN THOSE TWO YEARS.
SO WHAT WE GET THEN IS A
PHOTOGRAPH OF THE MOTHER.
THE MOTHER DIDN'T LOOK A LOT
LIKE THE GIRL, BUT THE FATHER,
ON THE OTHER HAND, HAD
A LOT OF SIMILARITIES
TO THE DAUGHTER.
NOW REMEMBER, THIS
PHOTOGRAPH HERE IS THOSE
TWO YEARS OLDER THAN THE
DAUGHTER WERE AT THE TIME.
SO WHAT WE WANT TO DO IS TO
AGE THIS LITTLE FACE HERE
TO THE AGE OF THE FATHER.

A composite image is created using the photos of father and daughter
at approximately the same age, divided in the middle to show the likeness
of features. Then a distortion screen network is superimposed on the
daughter's face, enabling the artist to stretch and narrow certain areas, which he does.
This is followed by the finished product, a photo of a pretty little girl.

Hiort continues YOU SEE WE WANT TO STRETCH
HER SO THAT HER NOSE COME
DOWN TO HERE, THE MOUTH COME
DOWN TO HERE AND THE CHIN
COME DOWN TO HERE, BECAUSE
THEN WE KNOW THAT HER FACE
HAVE HAD THE SAME GROWTH
PATTERN AS THE FATHER.
REMEMBER THAT THE FATHER IS
TWO YEARS OLDER THAN SHE IS
AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH.
JUST TO MAKE IT A LITTLE
BIT MORE VISIBLE FOR YOU,
I WILL PULL THE FACE
IN A GROTESQUE WAY
SO YOU CAN SEE
WHAT IS POSSIBLE.
NOT THAT I AM DOING A
JOB I USUALLY WOULD DO.
IF I DO THIS SORT OF THING,
IT'S JUST FOR PLAYING AROUND.
SO DON'T SAY THAT THIS IS
THE KIND OF POLICE JOB
THAT WE'LL BE DOING.
OBVIOUSLY THAT'S NOT HER; BUT
TO SHOW YOU THAT YOU CAN PULL
THE FACE IN ANY DIRECTION
THAT YOU WOULD LIKE.
AND THERE IS THE
FINAL RESULT.
AND THIS WOULD BE THE
PHOTOGRAPH THAT'S SENT OUT
TO DIFFERENT NEWS MEDIAS,
TO MILK CARTON PRODUCERS,
TO CANDY PRODUCERS, TO ALL
SORTS OF DIFFERENT SOURCES.

Hiort continues IT'S AMAZING HOW
WE CAN REMEMBER IT;
I MEAN, WE LOOK THE SAME.
THERE'S NOT MUCH DIFFERENCE.
WELL THERE IS TO US, SO
HOW DO YOU MEASURE IT?
HOW DO YOU GET IT
INTO RECOGNITION,
TO SOMETHING THAT WHEN
SHOWN, PEOPLE SAY,
YEAH, THIS IS HIM!
THIS IS REAL.
THIS IS THE REAL WORLD; WE'RE
TRYING TO GET A REAL CRIMINAL,
OR BE ABLE TO FIND A REAL
LITTLE GIRL OR A REAL BOY.
I THINK IT WOULD BE MUCH
HARDER TO GO FROM THE POLICE
WORLD TO THE ARTS WORLD,
THAN IT WOULD BE FOR
AN ARTIST TO GO INTO
THE POLICE WORLD
AND GET THE
RESTRICTION PUT ON.
TO ME, IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE WHAT
THE RCMP HAVE DECIDED TO DO.
BUT OF COURSE I AM THE
LUCKY GUY WHO GOT THE JOB.

He laughs.

Watch: The Police Artist