Dental X-rays detail root canals, caps, and fillings, as well as several molars missing on the lower left side.
"Some of the dental work was recent," said Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. "The hope is that maybe she was still paying for that work and there is an outstanding bill, or maybe a dentist will see [the portrait and the X-rays] and [they] will trigger a memory of who she is."
On June 17, the cyclists, motoring on trails off Polebridge and Quailbridge Roads, found the remains in a wooded area. According to NamUs, a national database maintained by the National Institute of Justice, there were no clothes, jewelry, or significant marks on the body. Officials did, however, obtain a fingerprint of her left thumb. Samples of her DNA were submitted for analysis that could help determine her ethnicity, any genetic abnormalities, and other identifying details.
Officials believe the woman was 25 to 40 years old, white or Latina, and about 5-foot-6. They do not have an estimate of her weight.
Although the cause of her death is undetermined, it has been ruled a homicide.
Having established some basic information, investigators asked for help from Fontana, who uses art as well as science to create sculptures of the unidentified.
Fontana, 57, graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in anthropology in 1977. She worked with medical examiners in New Jersey and Philadelphia before joining the New Jersey state police 20 years ago.
In 2001 she helped identify victims killed during the attacks on the World Trade Center.
In the case of the Burlington County woman, said Fontana, she had the skull and worked with an artist to create a sketch, rather than a sculpture, which takes more time.
Fontana said the skull was used to identify 21 points of tissue density.
"We use the skull as a base," she said. "We follow the bony contour of the skull."
It's not as easy, she said, as it looks on the television series Bones, where Emily Deschanel plays the role of Jeffersonian anthropologist Temperance "Bones" Brennan. On TV, hologram technology creates a three-dimensional image in space. By the end of a one-hour episode, the remains are identified and the cause of death revealed.
Fontana wishes such technology could be so easily deployed. It takes her 18 hours to make a sculpture, she said, and the chances of solving a case are slim.
She recalled creating a sculpture from remains of a young girl found in Monmouth County in 2005. Her family noticed a resemblance to the image published in the local newspaper and contacted police. Dental records confirmed the identity.
Such cases are rare. Since NamUs was created in 2007, more than 9,800 cases have been entered into its database, including 315 from New Jersey. Less than 10 percent of all cases have been closed.
Anyone with information about the remains is asked to call the Burlington County Prosecutor's tip line, 609-267-8300. Callers can remain anonymous.
Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @BBBoyer.