Give these children back their names

ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) -- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is trying to give names and sometimes faces to hundreds of children who have been found but never identified.

The center calls the project "Help I-D Me."

"This girl, Nikole, was recognized by her mother," says Angela Williamson, pointing to a photo of one of the programs successes. Publicity helped give Nikole Bakoles back her name 11 years after someone killed her and dumped her body off a Utah interstate.

But the National Center is still struggling to identify some 640 children. Police have recovered their little bodies, but some have gone unidentified since the 1950s.

Now the Center's put together a Facebook page, hoping that someone can put a name to a face.

One is a beautiful little toddler who was found dead in brush next to a highway in Mississippi in 1982. "But no one has come forward to claim her, to say who she is," says Williamson.

Another is a three to six year old boy who was pulled from a creek in Lorton in Fairfax county in 1972.

"These are little children, so why has no one come forward to say who they are and claim them?" asks Williamson.

At the National Center they can virtually reconstruct images of children's faces using a sophisticated and expensive piece of computer software.

Artists help rebuild the faces of children whose bodies are just skeletons, marking the depth of the tissue, attaching muscles, and then skin.

In the case of Stephanie Quesada, a town councilman near Los Angeles recognized the face. "When he saw the image, was really drawn to the eyes," says artist Colin McNally. He says it is overwhelming when his work helps identify an unnamed victim. "It's a feeling I really haven't been able to put words to."

The morgue photos of the little girl pulled from a river in Mississippi in 1982 were too grisly to publish, so Christi Andrews put together a composite. She stares right at you in a flowered dress, and it is hard to imagine why anyone would harm her.

Maybe you lived next door to her, and then one day never saw her again. Maybe you can give her back her name and help police figure out what happened to her.

The National Center just identified a child who had been missing for 30 years.

In two and a half weeks, the Help I-D Me Facebook page has generated 20 new leads, and almost 14,000 likes.


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