Florida officials to release cold case playing cards in hopes of developing new leads


Florida’s top attorney is betting that revitalizing an old program that distributes playing cards in jails and prisons will help crack some of the state’s cold cases.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement Monday that 5,000 specialized decks of playing cards featuring photographs and information about unsolved homicides or missing people will be handed out in prisons and jails in Florida with the hope of generating new leads.

“I have seen so many stalled investigations get new life after someone came forward with groundbreaking information. Sometimes that new information comes from criminals or co-conspirators, who have a change of conscience or maybe they are motivated by a reward,” Moody said.

“We are giving Cold Case Cards to inmates, but we are not playing games,” she said. “This low-tech approach to generating tips may prove to be an ace up the sleeve as we continue to bring finality to seemingly unbreakable cases.”

The cards will be distributed to more than 60 county jails overseen by Florida’s sheriffs’ offices, as well as 145 facilities overseen by the state Corrections Department, officials said.

Each playing card features a photograph and information about an unsolved homicide or missing-person case. (Florida Association of Crime Stoppers)Each playing card features a photograph and information about an unsolved homicide or missing-person case. (Florida Association of Crime Stoppers)

Each playing card features a photograph and information about an unsolved homicide or missing-person case. (Florida Association of Crime Stoppers)

The attorney general’s office is partnering with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, the state’s Sheriffs Association, the Corrections Department and Season of Justice, a nonprofit group focused on cold cases, Moody said.

Other states have had success with similar programs, she said.

For example, similar decks of cards in Connecticut helped solve 20 cold cases, and in South Carolina, at least eight cases were solved, Moody said.

Tips that lead to arrests are eligible for cash rewards of up to $9,500. Tipsters will remain anonymous, the statement said.

An older version of the cold case cards, released in 2007, helped solve a cold case in Florida, Moody said.

That case stemmed from 2004, when construction workers found 34-year-old Ingrid Lugo’s body in a retention pond.

Spurred by seeing information on one of the cards, three inmates reported the murderer, Moody said. The suspect was tried and found guilty of second-degree murder in March 2008, according to the statement.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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