Artist creates heartbreaking AI renditions of what missing children would look like today

By Monica Athnasious

Published Apr 29, 2022 at 09:30 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Disclaimer: the following content makes reference to violence, sexual abuse and explicit language.

Digital artist Hiderley Dao has taken the internet by storm throughout 2022. His incredibly life-like depictions, using AI technology, bring to life deceased celebrities, your favourite cartoons and even peel back the curtain on what famous faces would truly look like without plastic surgery. The content creator, who has amassed over 250,000 followers on Instagram, is also a contributing writer for Bored Panda. Now, the artist is back with yet another series, and this time, it’s terribly heartbreaking.

Back in March 2022, Dao began creating AI renditions of missing and murdered people—usually children—and what they would look like today in hopes of better aiding their chances of being recognised if ever found. Following the swathes of celebratory feedback and success the project received on Instagram, the digital creator decided to turn it into a fully fledged series called Projeto ‘Para não esquecer’, which translates to Project ‘Not to forget’. The art series focuses its attention on the helpless missing or murdered victims specifically pertaining to Brazil, from which the artist orginates, and it’s safe to say the creations are astounding.

Missing sons

Dao’s depictions proved so popular that the artist has even started to receive requests from those who wish to locate their missing loved ones. On 7 April 2022, the digital artist released aged-up images of two young boys who have been reported to be missing by their father after he got in touch with the AI expert for his help. Dao took to Instagram to write: “Seven years ago they were abducted by [their] mother and [the] father has not heard from them in four years. He believes that somehow my art can help him find them.” SCREENSHOT cannot independently verify the details of the case in question.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

Funk singer MC Daleste

A prominent figure in São Paulo’s Funk Ostentação scene—a Brazilian music style—MC Daleste was shot and killed in 2013. Becoming (at the time) the seventh Baile Funk artist to be murdered, Vice reported that, “[MC Daleste] was shot in Campinas, a Brazilian city of São Paulo State, last Saturday during a performance at a free and open festival at a social housing complex. Right at the beginning of his set, during a segue between tracks, a shot rang out and Daleste fell to the ground.”

The artist, just 20 years old at the time of his murder, has since been aged up by Dao to give fans a tragic glimpse of what he would have looked like now.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

Madeleine McCann

Without doubt the most infamous missing child’s case in the world—with many rightfully wanting a focus on other BIPOC missing or murdered youth—Dao gives you an idea of what McCann would have looked like today.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

Mara Lúcia Vieira

Focusing back on the children of Brazil, the AI creator brings attention to one of the own country’s most unsettling and infamous murders—the case of Mara Lúcia Vieira. It was over 50 years ago that Vieira went missing. On 11 November 1970, at just 9 years old, the young girl vanished from her home and was found days later strangled and raped post-death—a truly barbaric crime. To this date, the case has never been solved.

Dao shows us what this poor child would have been aged 61 today. 

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

Bruna Marques Melo

Once again, Dao is using his skills to better aid family members in the discovery of their missing children. Bruna Marques Melo disappeared 13 years ago and is yet to be found. “Her mother Joseli Melo is still hoping to find her daughter. The pain of not knowing where and how she is, is with this woman every second of her life. Any information, search ‘Joseli Melo’ on Facebook,” the AI artist went on to write.

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Lucas Terra

Another horrifically tragic case in Brazil comes as the grotesque murder of young Lucas Terra. At just 14 years old, Terra was ruthlessly murdered by pastors at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God located in the Rio Vermelho region of Salvador. He was raped and burned alive. Luca would have been 35 today.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

Eloá Pimentel

“We can’t forget!” Dao writes. “Every Thursday I will post a tribute to someone who didn’t have the right to live. Eloá would have been 29-years-old [today].” Eloá Pimentel was kidnapped back in 2008 in what became the longest documented hostage situation in São Paulo’s history—held for over 100 hours by ex-boyfriend Lindemberg Alves (who also shot and killed her friend Nayara Silva). Pimentel and Silva’s deaths, who were just 15 at the time, were not just a result of Alves but serious police negligence.

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Priscila Belfort

In a brilliant rendition of what Priscila Belfort would look like today, Dao draws attention to her still ongoing missing case. Belfort, who is the sister of ex-UFC fighter Vitor Belfort, disappeared in 2004. Her brother believes his sibling to have been “brutally murdered” following the confession of Elaine Paiva in 2007. However, his mother holds out hope that her daughter is alive as a body was never recovered—believing she is still tragically embroiled in sexual trafficking.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

Rui Pedro

“Today he would be 35-years-old. I used artificial intelligence and a lot of research on the faces of people over 30-years-old to arrive at this result,” said Dao on the case of Rui Pedro. Presumed dead in 2019, the 11-year-old went missing 24 years ago. His mother hasn’t lost hope on finding her son.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

And many more...

AgênciaBrasil and Dao himself cite data from Unicef to further bring light to the horrors that befell children in the country, indicating an average of 32 boys and girls (between 10 and 19) are murdered everyday. In a carousel post, alongside such statistics, the AI artist highlights this injustice and brings attention to not one, but five heartbreaking children cases—giving each one of them the digital opportunity of ageing.

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A post shared by Hidreley Diao (@hidreley)

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