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State Police, Department of Correction, District Attorneys create playing cards to seek information on unresolved crimes



FRAMINGHAM – The Massachusetts State Police (MSP), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Correction and District Attorney’s Offices, have created a deck of cards featuring victims of unresolved homicides and missing persons. Each card in the deck, which seeks to generate leads to assist investigators in solving the crimes, features a photo of and information about a victim.

The State Police Unresolved Cases Unit spearheaded the playing cards project. Each participating District Attorney’s Office – which house State Police detective units that investigate homicides and other serious crimes in conjunction with local police in their county of jurisdiction – chose the victims on the cards. The Department of Correction, which funded the playing card decks, is distributing them to state prison inmates in the hope they may have and share information about the crimes.

Additionally, State Police created and posted on their social media pages a video featuring the Department’s Superintendent, Colonel Christopher Mason, and a slideshow containing front and back images of each card; the MSP asks members of the public to view the video and slideshow with the hope that they, too, might be motivated to share any information they have.

“The victims in this deck were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, child, or partner,” Colonel Christopher Mason said. “Much time may have passed since the crime that took them from their loved ones, but they, and the victims of all our unresolved cases, are not forgotten. Our detectives and forensic specialists across the state work daily to solve cases like these. Often, after years of dedicated work by investigators, we find that we just need a little more information to solve the case. The people who loved, and were loved by, these victims have waited too long for justice. Help us end that wait.”

Each deck contains 52 playing cards in the four traditional suites. Each card’s front side contains the photograph, name, and relevant facts concerning an unresolved homicide or missing person. The reverse side of the card displays tip line information and a mailing address. An automated Unresolved Case Tip Line is in place.

The Unresolved Cases Playing Cards represent the first-time cards have been used in Massachusetts as a medium to solicit information about unsolved crimes. The idea for the project was championed by former MSP Colonel Kerry Gilpin, whose own history as a survivor of a homicide victim gave hope to many other survivors. The State Police Unresolved Cases Unit is hoping to create subsequent editions of the playing card decks in future years to feature additional victims.

Playing cards have an interesting history of informational uses. In the Second World War, the US military distributed playing card decks featuring silhouettes of aircraft to help soldiers distinguish between enemy and Allied planes, as well as cards with hidden maps of escape routes that could help POWs. In 2003, playing cards showing Saddam Hussein’s regime members were handed out to US troops during the Iraq war. Inspired by these cards’ success, in 2005, law enforcement agencies in Polk County, Fla., were the first to distribute unresolved case cards in jails. In less than three months after the Polk County launch, the cards generated more than 60 tips generated and four cases were solved and the offenders convicted.

Today, several other states and countries are utilizing playing cards as a means to seek leads on unresolved cases.

To submit information regarding these unresolved cases, call toll free 1-855-MA-SOLVE, email, or send a letter to the Unresolved Cases Unit at 470 Worcester Road, Framingham MA 01702.

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