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April 24, 2013

IDOC hopes playing cards help solve cases

One Cass County case among latest ‘cold case’ deck.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana state prison officials are using customized playing cards for a deadly serious purpose: To help unlock the mysteries of unsolved murders and persons gone missing.

On Tuesday, the Indiana Department of Correction released the third edition of the “Indiana Cold Case Homicides Playing Cards” – a deck of cards that profile 52 unsolved cases that have gone cold for lack of evidence or leads.

The “cold case” cards have a targeted audience. The 10,000 decks printed with each edition are only available for purchase by inmates in the state’s 25 prison facilities.

Doug Garrison, the DOC spokesman, said putting the cards in the hands of offenders make sense. “With cold cases, you want to put the names and faces of victims in the hands of anyone who might have a reason to know something about the case, and that includes offenders.”

The playing card project is done in partnership with the Indiana State Police and law enforcement from around the state who help the DOC decide who to profile on the cards. Each card includes a photo of the victim and brief information about where they were last seen.

One case from Cass County is included in the deck. Anthony and Lois Tolleson, both 29-year-olds from Burlington, were found dead on Feb. 22, 1987, on a roadway near their 1978 Chevrolet station wagon. Both Anthony and Lois suffered from gunshot wounds and burns.

Police speculated that the homicides were related to drugs, because Anthony had been scheduled to testify in a Howard County drug case shortly before his death. Anthony and Lois were also on probation for conspiracy to commit forgery of prescriptions.

Tom Heflin, a detective with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, opened up the case in 2011 at the request of the Tolleson’s daughter. He said a few more individuals have been brought to his attention and the case is continuing.

Among the youngest victims included in the current edition of the cold case cards is Blake Discus of Johnson County, who at age 10 was found stabbed to death with his mother in their Franklin County home. One of the oldest victims on a card: Eva Hale of Greene County, who disappeared in September 1996 from a cemetery after visiting her brother’s grave. She was 79.

It may seem like an insensitive way to solve a crime, but Garrison said the families of the victims on the cards have been supportive and grateful that their loved ones haven’t been forgotten.

“These cases have gone unsolved for so long, it feels like end of the road. But as long as law enforcement continues to pay attention to these victims, then there’s hope.”

The first edition of the cold-case cards came out in 2008. They’ve yet to result in a solved case, Garrison said. But they have generated some valuable leads.

The hope is that the information on the cards will jar an inmate’s memory about a case or provide a clue that, when combined with other information, would provide the break investigators need to solve the case, Garrison said.

The cards aren’t for public sale, but the images of each card can be found online at the Department of Correction website at www.in.gov/idoc/2826.htm.

The DOC is also asking anyone who has information about any case in the deck, or any other cold case, to contact the Indiana State Police Hotline at 1-800-453-4756.

Staff reporter Caitlin Huston contributed to this report.

 

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