RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Authorities are handing out decks of cards with photos of homicide victims on them to people incarcerated at the Richmond City Justice Center in an effort to help investigators solve cold cases.
The Richmond City Sheriff’s Office, along with the Virginia attorney general’s office and local partners, says it has created a deck of 52 playing cards featuring a victim’s photo, name and details about their case.
The cards, which also have tip line information, are being given to those in Richmond City Jail in the hope they can share any details that resolve the cold cases.
In a release Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said Sheriff Antionette Irving hopes those held at the jail “will recognize the face of the victim or even remember something particular about the case that will bring resolution.”
“Simply having the image on a card hopefully will ignite a more personal response and prompt a tip,” the sheriff’s office wrote in the release.
If someone at the jail does have information on a case, they can use the tip line or ask a family member to use the line to provide any details they may know.
The information will be vetted and could lead to a reward for the person incarcerated or the family member if deemed valuable to a case, according to Richmond’s sheriff’s office.
Similar methods have been utilized in Virginia and other states, including playing cards handed out in prisons and jails in Hampton Roads. According to Richmond’s sheriff’s office, this effort “will be the first such type of project in the Tri-Cities area.”
“All parties involved in the project have high expectations for its success in bringing resolution to any one or more of the existing cold cases,” the sheriff’s office added.
These cold case playing cards were first introduced by Florida authorities in 2007, according to the sheriff’s office. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website shows that two murder cases were solved as a result of the state’s program, but reports say Florida ended its program.
8News reached out to Florida authorities for updated figures and to learn what led the state to end its cold case playing card project. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said its program “has been defunct for more than a decade” but didn’t provide additional information.
Richmond’s sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to 8News’ requests for images of the playing cards being distributed.