318: Lisa Bailey – Clay and Bones, FBI Forensic Artist

In this episode, retired FBI forensic artist Lisa Bailey reviews the FBI’s forensic facial approximation program, where she used models of skulls and anthropologist reports to create sculptures of unidentified individuals to help investigators seeking the public’s assistance in solving cold cases.

She also reviews the 5-year research project she launched on behalf of the FBI with the University of Tennessee’s “Body Farm,” which resulted in the Bureau’s 3D digital and photographic forensic art reference collection of over 100 contemporary skulls.

Lisa Bailey served in the FBI for 18 years.

Prior to the FBI, Lisa served in the US Navy as a Russian Linguist, and worked as a graphic artist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She began her FBI career in the Investigative and Prosecutive Graphic Unit at the FBI Laboratory two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, creating presentations and demonstrative evidence for the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui.

FBI Forensic Artist (Retired)

Lisa Bailey

2001 -2019

Lisa’s casework included creating composite sketches of terror suspects, age progressions of wanted fugitives, and post-mortem images of unidentified victims. She rose to become the FBI’s first female forensic sculptor, creating realistic sculptures from the skulls of unidentified victims.

She was an adjunct faculty member of the FBI Academy, and an instructor of the FBI Forensic Facial Imaging Class.

Her work has been featured on the Bureau’s public website and social media platforms, the Smithsonian Museum of National History, and the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Lisa is the author of Clay and Bones: My Life as an FBI Forensic Artist. Visit her website LisaBaileyAuthor.com to learn more about Lisa and her book.

The following are links to articles about unidentified victims, forensic artists, facial approximation, and the Body Farm, plus case related images:

FBI.gov Website: Forensic Anthropology: Laboratory Artist Puts a Human Face on Unidentified Remains

FBI.gov Website: (VIDEO) FBI Forensic Artist Creates Facial Approximations from Skulls

NamUs Website – The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System

NamUs Website – (VIDEO) NamUs: Making a Difference

FBI.gov Website – 3/20/2019: Unearthing Stories for 20 Years at the ‘Body Farm’ 

FBI.gov Website – (VIDEO) FBI Trains at the ‘Body Farm’

Read my review of the TV show Bones here.

Lisa at work on a facial approximation sculpture.
Lisa layering clay over a 3-D resin skull to approximate flesh and muscles.
Lisa’s book was published in February 2024 and is available here and wherever books are sold.
A facial approximation created by Lisa and the later identified victim’s actual photo.
Examining skulls at the body farm.
NamUs is a national database of missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons for law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, and investigating professionals, that allows limited access to the public.
A FBI wanted flyer featuring age progression image enhancement.

























Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. […] 318: Lisa Bailey – Clay and Bones, FBI Forensic Artist […]

  2. […] 318: Lisa Bailey – Clay and Bones, FBI Forensic Artist […]

  3. DanielleMay 16, 2024

    Great episode. Loved it.


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