What do cold cases, war tactics, and poker have in common? A Florida community based group is hoping that the commonality, a deck of cards, will be the newest resource for local law enforcement leads.
In the summer of 2005, a Florida Crime Stoppers Group creatively designed a deck of cards that highlighted local cold cases. These cases were similar to the Iraqi most-wanted playing cards distributed during Gulf War II to U.S. soldiers; however, these Polk County cards focused on homicide victims. Crime Stoppers distributed these cold case decks to approximately 2500 inmates with the hope of generating new leads. The cards were prioritized by the date of the crime. The oldest unsolved cases, dating back to the 1970s, were the Aces. This group had high expectations for these cards based on their previous success with card decks featuring fugitives.
The 3 of Spades had a picture of Thomas Wayne Grammer, a 37-year old male. The card also included the following brief description of the key facts of his murder (copied verbatim from the card):
- During the early morning hours of 5/7/2004 the victim & his wife were inside their residence at 213 Lenox St., Lakeland, FL. A visitor had just left when a male subject appeared at the door with a firearm, entered the residence & confronted the victim. The victim was shot to death & the offender fled the scene to a waiting vehicle.
Although Floridas Polk County might be the first attempt by a local government to utilize playing cards as a criminal identification tool, our national government has utilized playing card strategies since the Civil War. The following list provides some examples of these war-time efforts:
♠ In the Vietnam War, the U.S. Military took advantage of the North Vietnamese and Viet Congs superstitions of the Ace of Spades--the Death Card. Troops would showcase this card on their helmets in an effort to use psychological warfare.
♠ In World War II, playing cards assisted soldiers in the identification of domestic and foreign fighter planes. These Spotter Decks were designed as follows: U.S. planes were the spades, Japanese planes were the clubs, German planes were the diamonds, and English planes were the hearts.
♠ Other WWII cards were designed to assist U.S. Prisoners of War. These soldiers could transform the cards into maps that illustrated how to get out of Germany.
♠ During the Gulf War II, the U.S. soldiers used the Iraqi most-wanted playing cards to assist in the identification of individuals in Saddams government.
♠ Americas Most Wanted Playing Cardsbased on the Fox show hosted by John Walsh. The company producing this deck will continually update the deck so that consumers always have the 54 mostwanted criminals.
♠ FBI Most Wanted Playing DeckFeaturing 55 pictures from across the world of the FBI and Interpols Most Wanted Fugitives.
1. Susan Casper, Video Clip, TBO.com News, Feb. 9, 2006.
2. Wendy Cole and Sarah Sturmon Dale, Card-Carrying Civilians, Time International, May 12, 2003, at 10.
3. Gabrielle Finley, One Card Two Arrests: Card Heats Up Cold Case, The Ledger, Feb. 10, 2006.
4. Great USA Flags (last visited March 7, 2006).
5. Most-Wanted Iraqi Playing Cards, Wikipedia (last visited Mar. 7, 2006).
6. Cheryl N. Schmidt, Cards Crack Cold Case, MSNBC.com (last visited Mar. 7, 2006).
7. Tom Zucco, Troops Dealt an Old Tool, The St. Petersburg Times, Apr. 12, 2003.