Frank Bender Fights His Own Cancer, After Helping Prosecute Serial Killers Worldwide
By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES
Feb. 11, 2010
Philadelphia forensic sculptor Frank Bender has spent a lifetime helping police solve unspeakable crimes, contouring in clay the faces of murder victims -- those without identities, whose families have never come to claim or weep for them.
His meticulously painted busts have led to the prosecution of fugitive killers for theFBI, Scotland Yard and even the television crime show "America's Most Wanted." He helped nail Colombia crime lord Alphonse Perisco and Warlocks motorcycle chieftain Robert Nauss.
But to Bender, children "are a different ball game," he told ABCNews.com.
He has just unveiled his last sculpture -- a 10-year-old boy whose skeletal remains were found dumped in the tall grass over a North Carolina highway in 1998.
"A child is so innocent. They have a whole life ahead, and it's taken away," he told the Greensboro News-Record. "It all bothers me, but they bother me the most."
Bender, known for his intuition as much as his forensic skills, has an 85 percent success rate, but he likely won't know the outcome of the case of John Doe 98-21372.
After a career launched from the city morgue and 30 years of handling skulls and mummified remains, Bender faces a swift-moving cancer -- pleural mesothelioma linked to asbestos exposure during his days in the Navy.