Aid in cracking cold cases

  • Tue Jan 12th, 2010 10:53pm
  • News

By Diana Hefley Herald Writer

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office cold-case detectives are getting more help from the Stillaguamish Tribe in their hunt for killers and missing persons.

The tribe is providing a second grant to the sheriff’s office to buy more decks of cold-case playing cards. The sheriff’s office was the first in the state to create playing cards to solicit tips for unsolved homicides and missing persons cases.

The Stillaguamish Tribe provided the sheriff’s office a $7,250 grant to purchase the first decks and the second grant will buy an additional 5,500 decks.

The cards are handed out in prisons and jails for inmates to use during their time in lock up. Detectives are hoping that any inmate with information about the unsolved cases will step forward. An inmate might have heard a jailhouse confession from a cellmate or heard rumors about a crime that detectives can investigate.

A $1,000 reward is offered for tips that help detectives make an arrest in the investigations.

“We’ll be able to expand to more jails and more prisons,” cold-case detective Jim Scharf said. Detectives in Florida began handing out cold-case playing cards a few years ago. They’ve made a handful of arrests from tips that came from inmates.

The Snohomish County cards feature cases that date back to the 1970s.

The Herald profiled the 52 unsolved cases and the victims every week for year beginning in May 2008. The cards are featured on

King County sheriff’s detectives also recently created a deck of playing cards.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

Can you help?

Police are asking anyone with information about unsolved homicides and missing-persons cases to call Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 800-222-TIPS (8477). Up to $1,000 is offered for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction. Tips also can be called into the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 425-388-3845.

Callers can remain anonymous, although tips have been shown to be more successful when callers leave their phone numbers and are willing to speak with detectives, police said.