Kent State professor describes sobering process of putting a face to 4-year-old's remains

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Remains found behind a home on Cleveland's West side have now been identified as 4-year-old Elizar Ruiz.

It was a process that took over four months to complete.

A local anthropology professor was able to help put a face to the unknown remains.

"It was very shocking first off that the body was just found in bags," said Kent State University Anthropology Professor Linda Spurlock.

Spurlock recalls the days she first saw the remains of 4-year-old Ruiz.

"Seeing his little bones laid out and his beautiful little skull, it was powerful and very sobering," said Spurlock.

But prior to her engagement with the case, the remains went without a face for several months.

"There's guidelines in forensic art literature of how to do this. There's a lot known about how deep the flesh is on diferent parts of the face at different ages," said Spurlock.

Using that same method, she was able to draw up the sketch and someone recognized the illustration immediately.

"It's amazing that several of his relatives recognized that sketch," said Spurlock.

Spurlock is hoping to now use this real life case to show the importance of forensics and anthropology to the minds she working to mold at the university.

"I make sure they know about it. I like them to understand that anthropology has very many practical applications," said Spurlock.

Although the death of the 4-year-old is considered suspicious, police have not yet ruled it a homicide.

The case remains under investigation.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.