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Crime News Breaking News

Virginia Releases Playing Card Decks To Inmates To Elicit Cold Case Tips

Law enforcement agencies around the country have increasingly begun to print and distribute decks of playing cards with information about various cold cases to incarcerated people.

By Jax Miller
A hand of Playing Cards

Virginia has become the latest state to adopt an initiative to distribute playing cards among incarcerated people to help solve cold cases.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced the cards would be distributed for recreational use to inmates within the Richmond City Justice Center in an attempt to elicit new information, according to a press statement released Thursday. Each card from the standard 52-card deck contains a photograph and case details of an unsolved murder in Virginia, as well as contact information for anyone with a tip.

“The loss of a murdered loved one is devastating. Not receiving justice makes it worse,” said Attorney General Miyares. “I’m hopeful that this creative tool will help law enforcement provide answers and justice to these families.”

The commonwealth’s new initiative was created after the Attorney General’s office partnered with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office, the Richmond Police Department, the Commonwealth Attorney’s office and Crime Stoppers.

“We’ve seen this to be an effective resource in other jurisdictions,” said Richmond Chief of Police Gerald Smith. “We are proud to participate in this endeavor as this is a creative method for generating interest and information on pending cases that could help generate new leads.”

The concept — later adopted in other states — began in Florida in 2007, when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released 100,000 such decks into the state’s prisons. The playing cards helped authorities solve the 2004 murder of James Foote, who was shot to death in a Fort Myers parking lot, and the 2004 murder of Ingrid Lugo, who was found strangled to death in a Bradenton retention pond.

The success of the playing cards led to newer editions featuring new cases — and other states took notice, including IndianaOklahoma and Connecticut.

In Connecticut alone, 20 cold case homicides and missing persons featured on five editions of playing cards had been solved, according to the Connecticut Department of Corrections.

“The goal is that current inmates will recognize the face of the victim or remember a detail that could help law enforcement close the case,” according to the Attorney General’s office.

Rewards are also available for information deemed valid or valuable.

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