Frank Bender, a renowned facial reconstruction artist from Philadelphia, PA is working on his final portrait in hopes that it will assist law enforcement authorities in identifying a small boy who has been missing for over ten years, despite his recent diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Bender has been credited with assisting in the solving of over 68 missing persons cases for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Scotland Yard, and America’s Most Wanted.
“This is the last one” explained Bender who is currently helping North Carolina authorities solve the case of a boy missing since 1998. “Most people with terminal cancer and eight months to live might not have even attempted this. But I didn’t want to turn this down if I could help identify him.”
Frank Bender was part of the famous Jane Doe homicide case of Boulder, Colorado, who was finally identified in 2009 by a portrait that Bender had made 55 years after her disappearance. Bender composed a portrait based off the remains depicting a woman with blond hair and blue eyes who was later identified as Dorothy Gay Howard of Arizona, who disappeared at the age of 18 in 1954.
Mr. Bender began his career in the facial reconstruction profession as a young man during an anatomy lesson at a morgue. Currently, Frank Bender is living is hospice care in Philadelphia, PA with his wife who also is suffering from an inoperable form of cancer. Like many mesothelioma victims, Mr. Bender believes his mesothelioma diagnosis is the result of asbestos exposure, although he cannot pin point the time or location of his exposure to the harmful material.
This will likely be Mr. Bender’s final reconstruction for authorities, but it’s the children that keep him going, “a child is so innocent. They have a whole life ahead, and it’s taken away.”