Lois Gibson, a renowned forensic artist with a career spanning four decades, has turned her skills towards solving a historical mystery at the Alamo. Working alongside Lee Spencer White, founder of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, Gibson has been granted access to a partial skull discovered in 1979 on the Alamo grounds. The skull, believed to belong to a young man who likely participated in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, lacked a lower jaw or teeth and bore evidence of trauma, including a gash and possibly a gunshot wound. Using her expertise, Gibson created a facial sketch of the individual.
White, a direct descendant of Alamo defender Gordon C. Jennings, has been working for years to identify bones found at the Alamo, including the recent discovery of three sets of remains in 2019. He advocates for DNA testing to confirm the identities of these remains.
The Martinez de Vara Law Firm played a crucial role in gaining access to the skull for Gibson, facilitating the examination with the General Land Office and UTSA’s Center for Archaeological Research. The skull had been the subject of a dispute involving various organizations, including the Texas Historical Commission, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Inter-Tribal Council of American Indians.
While Gibson and White acknowledge the challenge of identifying the skull’s owner definitively, they remain hopeful that their efforts will yield valuable clues. White has established a DNA database for descendants of the Alamo defenders to assist in the identification process. Despite the long odds, Gibson remains committed to the possibility of narrowing down the potential candidates and solving this 187-year-old mystery.
Gibson’s distinguished career as a forensic artist has involved helping law enforcement agencies solve over 1,200 violent crimes, leading to the conviction of approximately 750 criminals. Her work has extended beyond crime-solving to assisting in various identification cases, including a 2-year-old girl’s case and confirming the identity of a sailor in an iconic World War II-era photo.
As they embark on this historical investigation, Gibson and White emphasize that their journey has just begun and that their goal is to uncover the truth about the Alamo defenders who sacrificed their lives in 1836.