Creator of infamous suspect sketch discusses going viral a year later

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jan 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-22 10:22:36-05

LANCASTER, Pa. --- At the end of January 2018, Jocelyn Park went to Central Market in pursuit of her favorite eggs, according to WPMT.

When she arrived at the stand, she said the usual faces she recognized weren't there.

But someone else was, who she says was grabbing money from a cash box.

Asking if he was "stealing," Park says she began to question the man, even putting him to a test.

“They always give you the exact change, like without a blink of an eye, if you buy something so he kept trying to sell me something so I bought my eggs. He didn’t give me any change back and I said ‘You owe me change.’He was like 'Oh…' reached back, grabbed more money and just dumped change in my hands and then I knew...he’s lying,” said Park.

She said the man eventually fled her attempts to stop him, leading her to call police and file a report.

To keep the details of the suspect in mind, she began to write them down.

As a freelance graphic designer, Park said she went to what she does best by drawing a sketch based on the details she remembered following the encounter.

As a witness, she offered what she calls a "refined" rough draft to police.

“It was never meant to be like the best thing in the world and you know, a realistic photograph or a true police sketch, at all. It was just meant to jog my memory and I thought it might be helpful to someone else," said Park.

Once the sketch went public, it "exploded," as Park describes it, on the internet.

The sketch became an international sensation with people from all over the world laughing or critiquing the work for its whimsical nature.

“It’s not necessarily what I want to be known for, drawing the world’s worst sketch, but it’s a gift that’s been given to me,” said Park, with a laugh.

However, a week after the encounter, Park would receive vindication.

During its public fame, a Lancaster investigator saw it and it jogged his memory.

Police would arrest Hung Nguyen, now 45, on two counts of unlawful taking.

According to court documents, Nguyen plead guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

Park, a women who earned to degrees in art, said the whole event caused a roller coaster of emotion.

“It’s been funny that throughout my career, this would be the one thing that would just blow up," said Park, laughing.

Park said she believes her work brings people joy as others have reached out to her to draw sketches of themselves, family or friends.

While there have been high, Park says the "biggest blow" was finding websites using her sketch to profit off of merchandise, such as t-shirts.

“It’s not theirs to sell and it’s a piece of art, I guess, but it also has so much surrounding it that I wanted to have the say in how it was used.”

Park said the image is now copyrighted.

She said she didn't copyright the sketch for personal profit, but to prevent others from profiting off of her work.

Park admitted she hopes this is the one and only time she has to use her talents for a police sketch.

“I’m going to leave that up to the professionals. I think they can do a much better job than I can," said Park, with a laugh.