Age-progression is the process of changing the physical facial features of a person in order to create an idea of what the person may look like now. Usually age-progression is used to update the last known photo of a person to the age he or she would be currently. Age-enhanced or age-progression is an art form. Only specially trained forensic artists are qualified to do age-progression.
How age-progression happens is fascinating. Initially, a photograph of the person is need for a baseline reference point. Then a forensic artist makes changes to the physical features of the person, as to what he or she might look like now. The new photo or drawing suggests how the physical features may have changed with age.
How can it be accurate? The process of aging happens at a fairly regular and predictable rate, starting from birth and ending when someone dies. Although the aging process does not happen overnight, everyone does age, some more gracefully than others. There are certain environmental situations that will definitely have an effect on the aging process, like farming, sunbathing, or smoking.
The most dramatic change in physical appearance happens during the first years of life. The face will lengthen and widen, eventually the facial and skull bones fuse together. Baby teeth are lost, adult teeth become permanent, the eyes narrow, and the mouth widens. Also, the bridge of the nose rises, while the nose lengthens, resulting in a face that is less child-like. By age twelve, the face looks mature, yet, the chin is still forming, and the nose still growing. In adolescence, the cheekbones become prominent and the eyebrows fill in.
Aaron Cody Stepp was just three years old when he disappeared on March 11, 1997. Cody Stepp went missing the day before his mother Robyn Stepp would get out of prison. Robyn Stepp did the right thing, serving her 17-months of time, and while in prison she entrusted the care of Cody to her sister. Yet, as police investigated the disappearance of Cody, they discovered that his aunt and grandmother, who lived together, did not give Cody the care he deserved. Neither the aunt nor the grandmother can confirm exactly where Cody was on the day of his disappearance, each claims she believed Cody was with the other person.
Eleven years later Aaron Cody Stepp is still missing. Cody would be 14 years old. What would the beautiful blond haired blue-eyed three-year-old toddler who disappeared 11 years ago look like if found today? Aaron Cody Stepp’s picture has been age-progressed or age-enhanced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, providing an updated photograph of the toddler as a teen ager. This updated picture allows people in Columbus Ohio (the area where Aaron was last seen) and the rest of America to see what Aaron might look like if someone saw him today.
When a missing child is age-enhanced usually the original picture and the updated picture are both circulated to see if anyone recognizes the toddler as a teen. Age-progression is an art form and the forensic artists who do age-progression are incredibly talented.