TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas prison and jail inmates are getting new playing cards that could lead to answers about some of the state’s unsolved murders.

The playing cards in each deck feature cold cases from all across Kansas, dating from 1976 to 2020. The hope is that an inmate will recognize something about a case or have heard someone talking about one of the cases and call the card’s hotline.

The Cold Case Playing Cards will replace current decks of standard playing cards available in prisons and county jails. Decks will be placed in dayrooms and other common areas and available through the commissary for purchase by Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) residents.

“Not every tip received leads to resolution of a case, but someone usually knows something,” Kansas Secretary of Corrections Jeff Zmuda said. “Within Kansas correctional facilities and jails, we have segments of our population who want to do something good, perhaps atone for past mistakes, and they may have information about unsolved cases. Our hope is that we receive actionable intelligence that leads to solving cases.”

Cold Case Playing Cards – Diamonds

The KDOC and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), in partnership with the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police (KACP), the Kansas Sheriff’s Association (KSA) and the Kansas Peace Officers Association (KPOA), have developed the cards as a way of generating tips.

Cold Case Playing Cards – Clubs

“Our agency and our state’s criminal justice community have a commitment to the victims of crimes,” Zmuda said. “Our staff members see the unresolved pain experienced by the many families we work with. Hearing the responses from surviving family members when notified that their loved one’s case has been selected for the deck has been powerful and humbling. These families have waited a long time for answers, and this brings some hope.”

Cold Case Playing Cards – Hearts

“Every call or tip that is shared with law enforcement will be vetted by investigators assigned to the case,” KBI Director Kirk Thompson said. “No matter how small, each tip has the potential of being the missing piece of information needed to finally provide justice to crime victims and their families.”

Other states have solved multiplee cold case homicides, missing person cases and suspicious deaths by making these cards available.

Cold Case Playing Cards – Spades

The development of the project began in March 2021. Through a submissions process that began in December 2021, local law enforcement from across Kansas provided 81 cases to be highlighted. A selection committee with representatives from KDOC, KBI, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement prioritized 59 cases to highlight on the first deck of 52 cards.

“For many of these cases, even after years of investigative work has occurred, questions still remain that need answers before a perpetrator can be held accountable,” Thompson said. “It’s our hope that by distributing this deck, more attention is drawn to these cases, and that someone comes forward with details that will move us one step closer to providing justice.”