GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Rapids Police Department sketches are not done by a sketch artist, but by a computer program.
That program has helped catch alleged criminals, like in the case of a 16-year-old male accused of repeatedly raping a Grand Valley State University student last week.
GRPD crime scene technician Brian Reed helped put together the composite that led to Felipe Lopez-Velasquez's arrest. Reed said he was just a small part of the process and that the 21-year-old student deserves most of the credit.
"I give her more credit than any of us," Reed said. "It was her composite. It was her description, and she gave a great description."
The composite process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours, Reed said.
The department has binders broken down by the suspect's ethnicity. The victim goes through a database of essential features: forehead, eyes, nose, mouth and chin. Once completed, technicians put all the features together before releasing it to the media.
"These are not supposed to be photos, exactly," Reed said.
In many cases, victims want to forget the experience they went through, but they are asked to recall their attackers in vivid detail to help create a composite.
"She had to relive this numerous times to try and tell her story," Reed said of the victim who attends GVSU.
The sketches that are remarkably accurate, as in the case of the September 2011 sexual assault of two women on Plainwell Avenue. In that case, the two men arrested and eventually sent to prison looked uncannily like the composite sketches released in the days after the assault.
In the case of the recent assault, Reed also thanked the community. Someone called police after seeing the sketch last week.
"It feels good to have arrested someone for this," Reed said. "I have a daughter close in that age group. So sometimes they hit a little close to home."
Lopez-Velasquez was arraigned Tuesday on three counts of first-degree sexual assault and a charge of unarmed robbery in the Sept. 10 sexual assault, which happened in the area of Valley Avenue and West Fulton Street.
A court affidavit said the teen confessed. He is being charged as an adult and could face up to life in prison if convicted.
His alleged accomplice, 14-year-old Marco Vazquez, is being charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault and unarmed robbery.
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