http://projects.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/26206191-41/cards-cases-county-case-lane.html.cspDetectives’ deck of crimes
Authorities distribute playing cards containing information on unsolved cases
BY JACK MORAN
Appeared in print: Thursday, May 5, 2011, page A6
Some of Lane County’s most mysterious unsolved murder and missing persons cases are getting a fresh deal.
Local law enforcement officials on Wednesday announced the release of a set of playing cards that profile 52 so-called “cold cases” from throughout Western and Central Oregon, including 18 from Lane County.
“I’m tremendously hopeful this will lead to a resolution in any one of these cases,” Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner said.
He characterized the idea of featuring the cases on playing cards as “a creative way (to investigate crimes) that has actually been pretty productive.”
Officials said police in Florida began producing decks of cards highlighting local cases about four years ago. Since then, dozens of law enforcement agencies across the country have followed suit.
Just last month, police in Washington arrested a Seattle man in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred in 1979. The tip that led detectives to their suspect came from a state prison inmate who had been playing with a deck of cards issued by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that featured the case, according to news reports.
Although the decks that include the Lane County cases will be sold to the public by local police agencies, the target audience is the inmate population of Oregon jails and prisons, said Kurt Wuest, a retired Lane County sheriff’s detective who now volunteers with the department’s cold case team.
“Our focus for these cards are correctional facilities,” Wuest said. He added that if investigators didn’t believe that someone with information about an unsolved case was incarcerated, “chances are that we wouldn’t incorporate (that case) into the cards.”
Wuest said inmates with knowledge of a crime they see featured on a playing card could potentially be motivated to try to negotiate benefits for themselves by sharing information with authorities.
A number of the Lane County cases profiled in the set garnered significant media attention after police began investigating them — such as the 2005 killings of Oakridge Middle School counselor Stevan Haugen and his companion, Jeanette Bauman, who were found shot to death in a remote campsite 25 miles south of Oakridge. Detectives at one point worked with psychics to help them investigate the case.
Other cards carry brief summaries of investigations that officials have never before discussed publicly. One of those — the 10 of spades — involves the mysterious disappearance of Kevin Nordquist
, who went missing under suspicious circumstances on Dec. 5, 2005. Witnesses heard several gunshots in the Goshen neighborhood where the 38-year-old former snowboarding instructor was last seen, authorities said.
“He just disappeared, and that was it,” said Nordquist’s sister, Springfield resident Kristen Shultz.
Sheriff’s Detective Carl Wilkerson said he lobbied to have the Nordquist case included in the playing card set.
“It absolutely is a suspicious case … where I think someone could know something that could help us,” Wilkerson said.
If nothing else, Shultz said, she’s just glad to know that her brother’s case isn’t being lost in the shuffle, buried under more recent investigations with fresh leads.
“I’m happy that they’re doing something about it after all these years,” she said. “I’m hoping that something comes out of it, because every year, it just gets harder and harder for our family.”
The project is funded by Crime Stoppers, Wal-Mart on Green Acres Road in Eugene and donations made to the cold case unit. Proceeds will be used to purchase additional decks and to help fund the cold case team, which is composed of three retired detectives who work one day a week on unsolved homicide and missing persons investigations.
The playing cards also highlight cases from Linn, Deschutes, Coos, Curry and Jackson counties.Anyone with information about a profiled case may contact Crime Stoppers at 800-850-0580.
Cash rewards of up to $1,000 are available for information that results in an arrest.
COLD CASE PLAYING CARDS
While many sets of cards featuring unsolved murder and missing persons cases will be distributed to county jails and state prisons in Oregon, others will be available for sale to the public at local law enforcement offices
In Eugene, decks may be purchased for $5 (cash or check) at the Lane County Sheriffâ€™s Office reception desk in the Lane County Public Service Building, 125 E. Eighth Ave.