News


FDLE, Attorney General and Department of Corrections Bet Playing Cards Will Solve Cold Cases

7/24/2007
 
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Department of Corrections (DC) and the Attorney General's Office have teamed up with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers to implement a new and innovative way to crack Florida's unsolved cold cases. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, Attorney General Bill McCollum and DC Secretary James R. McDonough announced today that approximately 100,000 decks of cold case playing cards will be distributed to inmates in the state's prisons, beginning at the Wakulla Correctional Institution on July 24. Each card features a photograph and factual information about an unsolved homicide or missing person case.

"This is creative, innovative and proactive criminal justice partnership at its best," said Commissioner Bailey. "We're literally putting high profile case facts directly in the hands of individuals who we think can potentially crack the investigation and help solve the crime."

Printing for the two decks, which profile a total of 104 unsolved cases from across Florida, was funded by the Florida Attorney General's Crime Stoppers Trust Fund. The toll free number for each case's local Crime Stoppers chapter is featured on each card and every inmate will be given access to a phone in order to contact Crime Stoppers.

"This is an excellent initiative pursued by our law enforcement and criminal justice community and I am proud to lend the support of the Attorney General's Office and the Crime Stoppers Program," said Attorney General McCollum. "If these cards help us crack even one cold case, the families and loved ones of the victim or victims will have some measure of closure in their lives."

The cards will be distributed to 129 state prison facilities throughout Florida. By distributing the cold case playing cards to inmates, law enforcement will reach thousands of potential sources who may be able to provide critical information to help resolve an unsolved case.

"Using these cards is like interviewing nearly 93,000 inmates for new leads on 104 cold case homicides and missing persons around the state," said Secretary McDonough. "Criminals are connected to other criminals. They know each other, know each others' habits, and share common contacts so that often they are more than prepared to provide information that would allow us to bring other criminals to justice."

The idea originated in 2005 with a group of law enforcement professionals serving on the Polk County Cold Case Assessment Team. The team was impressed with playing cards distributed to U.S. troops in Iraq featuring the country's most wanted fugitives. The group decided to develop a deck of unsolved cold cases from the local area and distribute in the Polk County Jail. Within two months of the cards being distributed, an inmate at the jail provided a tip to authorities on the May 2004 homicide of Thomas Wayne Grammar, who was featured on the three of spades. The inmate who saw Grammar's playing card remembered another individual confessing to the crime, but until he saw the card, he had not believed that the crime actually occurred. The information provided eventually led to the arrests of two individuals involved in the murder.

As a result of the popularity of the Polk County playing cards, FDLE, local law enforcement and Crime Stoppers worked to identify cases statewide for distribution through the Department of Corrections. There are 85,000 decks of the first edition pack and 15,000 decks of the second edition pack being distributed. The 104 cards are accessible via FDLE's Web site at www.fdle.state.fl.us. Florida is the first state to develop cold case cards on homicides and missing persons and the first to develop a state deck and distribute in the state prison system. Members of the public can purchase decks of Florida Cold Case cards from www.EffectivePlayingCards.com.

The Florida Crime Stoppers Act was passed by the Legislature in 1998 and establishes the Crime Stoppers Trust Fund. The fund is administered by the Office of the Attorney General and serves to improve and support the official Crime Stoppers organization and their crime fighting programs. This funding is apportioned to eligible counties to improve and support the crime fighting programs through official Crime Stoppers organizations. The Act provides for enhancing public awareness of crime prevention methods and to train the public in personal safety principles, especially for citizens who live in, work at, or frequent locations having high crime rates. The Office of the Attorney General makes grant funds available annually to carry out the purposes of the Act. To view members of the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, Inc. or for more information visit http://www.floridacrimestoppers.com.

For more information, contact:
Robby Cunningham
Department of Corrections, Office of Public Affairs
(850) 488-0420

Jenny Nash
Office of the Attorney General, Office of Communications
(850) 245-0150

Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Public Information Office
(850) 410-7001