Joe Mullins, forensic imaging specialist at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and technologists from Inova Alexandria Hospital and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History prepare for a CT scan of an unidentified human skull. (Robert Bird/National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, also based in Alexandria, joined forces with the radiology department at Inova Alexandria on four such cold cases, three of them children. Joe Mullins, a forensic imaging specialist at NCMEC, said he uses Adobe Photoshop to reconstruct what the victim looked like, but he needs to start with a digitized three-dimensional CT scan.

Mullins said he is hoping that Inova Alexandria’s example will inspire hospitals around the country to work with local law enforcement to do CT scans. The images could then be sent to Mullins for digital reconstruction, and perhaps solve all manner of cold cases, not just those involving children.