About Project

A Little History…

In August of 2001 Harold Messler, the Footwear Impressions Expert for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (now retired), ask the Forensic Science program at Webster Groves High School to photograph the outsoles at Wal-Mart and PAYLESS stores. After obtaining permission from both stores, in October of 2001 we began to photograph the outsoles and collect the data about manufacturer, and model of each shoe from both stores. We photographed these shoes twice every school year- in October and February or March.

Early in the project we began to send the photographs to the FBI to be added to their footwear database. In 2009 we began to also photograph the uppers of each shoe. This year we also created our first website in order to share the data about these shoes with members of law enforcement who requested access. In 2015 the Payless store we were working with and several others in the area closed. Since then we have continued to photograph the outsoles and uppers of footwear sold at Wal-Mart.

The website is available to those who request access by contacting us through the email forensicswghs@gmail.com. We request that you do not share the login information with others and simply give them the email address to request access.

On the website we only post 2-3 years of data, but we have maintained the data for all the years since this project began in 2001. Along with providing access to the current footwear data on the website, when we have the student researchers available, we offer help in searching through our past data and on online sites for possible footwear designs, see the Search Requests page for more information.