LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source)- Accused murderer Caleb Anderson probably never thought a forensic artist in the Upper Peninsula would help lead to his arrest in Alabama but that’s exactly what happened. After an 18-year-old woman was assaulted in August of 2022, Trooper Alyson Sieminski of the Michigan State Police (MSP) sat down with her and sketched a portrait of her alleged attacker. The drawing, as well as a description of the attacker’s vehicle was shared with the media which brought in about a dozen credible tips and the suspect was arrested a few days later out of state.

The arrest was the result of a multi-state manhunt of Anderson who is thought to be connected with the death of two people in Wisconsin and Alabama as well as being the alleged attacker of the woman in the Upper Peninsula. The woman had been jogging in Iron County when she was attacked. Luckily, she was able to fight off her attacker – and give a good description of what the attacker looked like to Sieminski.

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It appears, however, that this woman wasn’t his only sexual assault victim in Michigan. Reports indicate that he would run up and grab the buttocks of women on and near the Northern Michigan University campus. Then he would run away. This led to him being charged with multiple counts of 4th degree criminal sexual conduct. 

Tpr. Sieminski, who was assigned to the Iron Mountain Post, says about Anderson’s sketch, “It was my first shift back from training with the Army Reserve. I received the call almost immediately after her attack around 6 a.m. and was sketching within an hour. She was a great witness and somewhat knew what to expect because she’d sat in on a demo I’d done at her high school.”

Sieminski has always wanted to be an artist and she says it’s the reason she joined the MSP. She said, “I followed the career of now Inspector Sarah Krebs who has been successful as an artist, so I knew the opportunity was there.”

Tpr. Sieminski and Insp. Krebs and five others make up the MSP’s Forensic Art Unit (FAU).

Forensic art can be any representation that helps capture or convict a criminal or aids in identifying an unknown, deceased person.

Wade Dakin, manager of the MSP’s Audio/Video Analysis Unit and FAU program coordinator says, “Our artists focus on the visual parts of a case. They’re tremendously talented and have proven to be an asset for the communities we serve. A composite sketch is often an important and public piece of a criminal investigation.”

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State Police forensic artists are trained to do composite sketches as well as age-progression, image modification, demonstrative evidence, postmortem sketches and facial reconstructions from the skull. Those 2D reconstructions focus on rebuilding a face to assist in missing person cases or unidentified remains. Christie Christman, a graphic designer working in the Public Affairs Section and forensic artist says, “Rebuilding from a skull is half scientific and half artistic. That’s what I enjoy most – using science to figure out features and ethnic backgrounds.”

State Police forensic artists receive training in each discipline and assist department members and police agencies statewide, any time of the day or night. Maybe most importantly, they’re experts in the art of listening – to what the victims or evidence tells them.

Even though drawing faces and reconstructing faces from a skull are a very important part of what forensic artists do, it’s not all that they do. 

Michigan News Source spoke with Krebs for a previous article about her organization “Missing in Michigan Association” and she talked about her work as a forensic artist. She told us that what she does involves more than just drawing photos of potential suspects and doing forensic facial reconstruction of victims. 

Krebs said that over her career, she has worked on hundreds of cases that included drawing sketches of crime scenes, witnesses, vehicles, stolen objects, age progression drawings, and more. With a degree in anthropology, Krebs is able to add that additional knowledge to her artwork as well.

Krebs, Sieminski and the other forensic artists are able to use their talents to bring closure and justice to many crime victims and their families as well as those who are missing and unidentified.