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Hamilton County Jail Using Playing Cards To Solve Cold Cases

Tana Weingartner
Family members hold up copies of the playing cards representing their loved ones. Decks will be sold in the jail store for $3 per pack.

Hamilton County jail inmates can now purchase special playing cards with the names and faces of murder victims. Each card features an unsolved homicide. Hope Dudley is the driving force behind the cards. Her son was murdered in 2007.

"The families and myself are looking for messengers," she says. "We are asking the inmates to please help us in solving the crimes in our cities."

The idea is that inmates, who spend a lot of time playing cards, will come forward with information on an unsolved crime.

"Conversation is key," says jail director Major Charmaine McGuffey. "That's what starts a dialog of who these people are that are represented on these cards. Anybody that's in this facility that may know something about these incidents can then come forward in some manner."

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Peggy Harris, center, lost her son John Harris in 2007. She says there is often more information inside the jail than outside, and she's praying the cards will persuade someone to come forward.

Robin Moore's son, Justin, was killed almost nine years ago. "We still walk the walk and talk the talk in hopes that someone will come forward and help close these cases and solve these cases, and also all the other families... to help them to get closure within their lives as well. It does hurt and it's a lot of pain to have to deal with this day after day and month after month and year after year."

The playing cards will be sold in the jail commissary for $3 per deck. The proceeds will go back into “U Can Speak For Me,” the support group for families and loved ones of local crime victims.

McGuffey says it's important to sell the cards rather than just give them away.

"When they purchase them, they'll respect them and they'll keep them and they'll keep them with them."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.