Former sheriff joins push to keep cold case cards on display in Hamilton County jail

Cold case card protest
Posted at 12:05 AM, Oct 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-24 00:07:28-04

CINCINNATI — For years, cards keeping the names of murder victims alive were placed inside the Justice Center to help solve cold cases. Now, one mother is calling on Hamilton County's sheriff to reconsider removing the cards she calls a security risk.

Hope Dudley, CEO of U Can Speak For Me, said the playing cards were more than just a novelty deck. Her son was killed in 2009, and the cards represent families who are seeking closure and searching for answers.

"'See something, say something' cards [are] very important to mothers like me who have victims that have been murdered in cold cases," Dudley said.

The cards were placed in jails and other public locations, but were recently removed from Hamilton County's jail. In a statement, Sheriff Charmaine McGuffy said she supports Dudley and her organization, but said the jail has experienced multiple incidents of inmates compromising cell locks using playing cards — something McGuffy said has cost the administration more than $40,000 to repair.

Because of this, the jail discontinued any playing cards due to a security risk, with McGuffy stating "I will not compromise the safety of our officers and the prisoners, nor will I spend taxpayer money on something we can prevent."

Dudley says the decision is unfair, pointing to cases solved with the cards inside the facility — and she's not alone. Among those who protested Saturday for the cards to stay was former Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil.

"These cold cases were solved because of our use of the playing cards," Neil said. "Anything can be construed as a security hazard, security just needs to adapt and overcome — we've done it from day one."

The cards are still in other law enforcement facilities, like Butler County's.

"This is the only facility," Dudley said. "When I called the other facilities, they said no, so I don't understand."