Two weeks ago, Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who claims to have had a sexual encounter with President Donald Trump, released a police-style sketch of the man she claims threatened her not to talk about the affair.
You probably saw the composite drawing...and the familiar, big cursive, one-name signature of the artist.
Lois Gibson, whose composite drawings have helped the Houston Police Department and other agencies identify more than 1,000 criminals. She is recognized by Guinness World Records for “Most Criminals Positively Identified Due To The Composites Of One Artist.”
It’s remarkable how, sight unseen, she captures, not only the facial features, but the personality of the criminal.
Here’s how she does it. I know: In 2002, Gibson was in my house drawing the face of the man who hit me with his van and put me in the hospital.
It didn’t exactly happen in that order. I was run over on a Saturday afternoon, riding my bike a few blocks from my house, in full view of neighbors mowing their lawn, walking their dogs, etc. I heard an engine roar behind me. I turned around just in time to look at the driver’s face.
It sounded like a bomb exploded. I flew and rolled 33 feet, according to the police report, and landed next to a curb. The driver gunned his engine, turned the corner and got away. A neighbor ran to me and yelled, “I’m a firefighter, don’t try to move!” I saw blood trickle past my head. That scared the hell out of me.
I listened to the firefighter’s advice and closed my eyes. Where was I going, anyway? I heard one neighbor ask, “Is he dead?”
That really scared me. I don’t know what dead feels like.
An ambulance came about a minute later. Thank you, West U. Fire Department.
Paramedics strapped me on a gurney and took me to the hospital. I remember being strapped in so tightly that I freaked out. I was yelling, “I don’t want to go to the hospital, just take me home.”
They didn’t listen to me. Emergency room doctors worked me over. I was busted and broken, but no head injury (I wasn’t wearing a helmet).
That isn’t when I met Lois Gibson.
About a week later, a man and a van, both matching the description I gave police, jumped a curb in the Medical Center and ran over — and killed — a doctor. The driver got away again.
That’s when I met Lois Gibson. Now we’ve got a murderer loose.
I was still woozy and medicated, but Gibson and I got to work. She set up an easel in my living room, opened her tool box of charcoal pencils and handed me a large book filled with photos. It looked a high school yearbook. (Except these weren’t fresh-faced kids going off the college. The pages were filled with mugshots of inmates at federal prisons. The photos looked like they were taken in the 1930s, with faces straight out of Al Capone gangster movies. This wasn’t a mailer from Glamour Shots.
I sat on my couch, Gibson sat behind her easel, and we started.
“Let’s do his hairline first. Can you find someone whose hairline is the same as the person who hit you?”
I found a prisoner with long, scraggly blond hair. Then I found a forehead that was the same. Then eyes. I kept flipping through pages and Gibson kept working. I couldn’t see what she was drawing. It was similar to having your caricature done on a boardwalk. Except Gibson didn’t have a tip jar next to her.
All the while, Gibson kept chatting, asking me about my job, my hobbies, the weather, what brought me to Houston, how I was feeling. Just making conversation, I guess calming me down, so I would pick out the right eyebrows and nose. She was very empathic. She’s been there. When Gibson was 21, she was brutally attacked by a rapist.
About an hour later, when I was done matching lips and complexion, she turned her drawing around. She nailed it.
I remember asking her, “When this drawing gets on the news, is this guy going to realize that I’m still alive and come back looking for me?”
She said, “He’s probably a million miles away from here.”
After I healed up, I contacted Gibson and said, “I’ve got an idea. How about if I describe somebody, just from memory, without the Alcatraz yearbook, and you draw the person?” She agreed.
I said, “He’s got a long horsey face with dark eyes and brown hair.” I went on to describe other features. It dawned on me, this sounds like Secretariat.
I’m pretty sure she caught on to the person I was describing, because when she turned the drawing around, it was like a photo of Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich.
They never caught the guy who hit me on my bicycle and killed the doctor in the Med Center.
A year later, Gibson and I went to Gulf Greyhound Race Park. Turns out, she’s good at helping police catch crooks — not so good at picking winners at the dog track.