PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Could a simple game of cards help crack an unsolved murder?
Investigators across Rhode Island hope so. On Tuesday, a new deck featuring not Kings, Queens and Jacks, but rather the faces of 52 cold cases was introduced in Pawtucket by the detective leading the effort.
Through federal funding obtained with assistance from the FBI, 5,000 decks have been ordered and will be distributed within the state’s Department of Corrections.
The belief is that inmates will play with the cards and potentially uncover leads in unsolved homicides and missing persons cases.
“I just believe that a lot of them may have more information than the average person might,” Pawtucket Detective Sue Cormier said Tuesday.
“Just generating that type of conversation, I think, is key to getting some of these tips,” she continued. “They’ll start to trickle in the beginning and hopefully kind of steamroll after that.”
The cold case decks will be the only ones sold in commissaries, and the proceeds will be used to order more decks or to create a second series of cards.
Detectives in other states, including Connecticut, have found success using similar decks of cards.
In addition to the faces of the victims, the cards also feature information on how they were killed or went missing. The information was provided by 30 detectives in 19 different agencies around Rhode Island.
The cases were chosen according to their potential for highest impact and sustainability. They date back to Rita Bouchard, who was killed in 1947, but no matter how cold a case has gone, Cormier says the cards are symbols of hope for the 52 families involved.
“It really means a lot to me to have so many families say that I’ve given them hope, and this project has given them hope,” she said.
“We might be able to solve, even just one, would be a great success,” Pawtucket Police Chief Tina Goncalves added.
A tip line has also been set up to collect information on cold cases. Tips can be submitted by calling 877-RI-SOLVE, emailing email@example.com, or mailing information to P.O. Box 1623, Pawtucket, R.I. 02862.