Lexington police, Bluegrass Crime Stoppers and the Kentucky Department of Corrections announced Friday that they have received a grant to help solve cold cases through playing cards.
Kentucky Cold Case Homicide playing cards feature a photo and description of 52 cold cases in Kentucky and will be distributed through the local Community Corrections Center and in 18 prisons and multiple jails around the state.
"It is a creative and proactive project," said Lexington Detective Chris Schoonover. "It puts the cards in the hands of individuals who might have information about these crimes."
Kentucky is the 10th state to produce the cards. The idea came from the Pentagon's use of cards in 2003 to search for Saddam Hussein's inner circle.
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Two years later, Florida produced cold-case cards and solved a cold-case homicide soon after.
For victims' family members such as Christine Kavanaugh, the cards represent hope for an unsolved case. Kavanaugh's uncle Toby Kavanaugh was found dead in his Lexington home June 17, 1994.
"If someone hears something, or perhaps seeing my uncle's picture on the ace of hearts, it will influence someone to come forward," Kavanaugh said. "I am very hopeful that new information and leads will come forward, and that will certainly provide some closure."
Inmates who have information about a cold case featured on the cards may use an anonymous tip line provided by Bluegrass Crime Stoppers. The tip line number is at the bottom of each card and can be reached from any of the correctional facilities.
Although the first edition of the cold-case cards will be distributed to inmates only, Lexington police might create a Web site where the public could see the cards.