Cpl. Dale Eubanks of the Lodi Police Department has leveraged his skills as a forensic artist into a national television appearance.
Tonight he will appear on “The Dead Files,” a program on the Travel Channel that uses classic police work and psychic abilities in an effort to explain paranormal events or unsolved crimes.
The segment Eubanks participated in was filmed at a home north of Lodi near Highway 99 in April. A death had occurred there years ago and families inside had reportedly been terrorized by phantoms afterwards, he said.
He is in a national database of forensic artists, and Eubanks believes that’s why the show’s staff reached out to him when they came to the area for filming.
His job was to sketch the victim the psychic was describing.
“Usually I have three or four hours when I do sketches,” he said. “But I only had an hour, and it was a challenge to do something that looked good in that time.”
Not only was the pace much quicker than he was used to, but the way in which the sketch was created was also different, he said.
“Usually we sit with the victims and get them comfortable, and then they look through a book with a bunch of different styles of facial features in it,” he said. “Each feature has a number, so I just write the numbers as they pick them out and then I sketch it.”
The book works by breaking the human face — which is symmetrical — into several quadrants, he said.
Eubanks was thrown another curveball because there was nothing to review his sketch with, he said.
“I like to take time and add detail to my sketches, and I had nothing to compare it to,” he said. “Usually after we make a sketch, we’ll show the victim or witness some photographs of suspects and they can see if any match the photos. That helps me see how close we were.”
Eubanks always had an interest in art, but did not become a forensic artist until five years ago. In high school he doodled and drew cartoons, but no serious options for art as a career were available to him as he grew older.
He had been interested in becoming a sketch artist early in his police career, but certification and training could only be obtained through the FBI in Washington, D.C.
“Cities will small budgets couldn’t justify such an expense,” he said.
It wasn’t until Stuart Parks Forensic Associates, a private enterprise that trains artists, came into existence that Eubanks got his opportunity.
“They could take someone who couldn’t draw a stick-figure and turn them into a forensic artist,” he said.
He became certified and has sketched dozens of suspects in that time.
The certification for a forensic artist needs to be renewed every two years because it’s a perishable skill, Eubanks said. His certification is good through next year.
He’s interested in learning the forensics of facial reconstruction, but said it will have to wait.
“There’s no need yet for me to do that,” Eubanks said. “We don’t find a lot skulls laying around.”
Forensic reconstruction uses mapping techniques to recreate the facial features of someone who was brutally beaten or severely decomposed.
Eubanks said he enjoyed the process of filming the episode but has no idea how much he’ll be featured in it.
“I haven’t seen a final version of the episode,” he said. “They could’ve cut me out entirely.”
The show will air at 10 p.m. Check your cable or satellite listings for the Travel Channel’s station number.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at email@example.com.