Deck of cards used to help solve cold cases

Each card features a victim of a cold case

PHOENIX (CNN) – An unusual attempt at solving cold cases in Arizona is underway; giving inmates decks of playing cards could help solve some of these old cases.

With every hand that’s dealt, the stakes are unusually high. Now that these playing cards are in the hands of inmates, investigators believe the odds of solving a crime are in favor of the house.

They’re 52 unsolved cases. Melissa Mason and Nicole Glass; roommates strangled to death in their Phoenix home. In 2003 Lynsey Chainhalt was gunned down, a victim of road rage.

Pictured on the two of diamonds is Ed Forst, a prominent local businessman. For more than six years Forst’s murder has baffled police, and left his family desperate for answers. The only facts police know for sure is that two men shot Forst in his car near McDowell and 27th Avenue.

“He crashed into an AM/PM gas station by some propane tanks,” said the victim’s son, Mike Forst.

“It’s just frustrating for investigators and family alike, year after year, with no resolution, no justice,” said Sgt. Darren Burch. “These playing cards could very well, in the hands of criminals, give us justice.”

A total of 3,000 decks were given to inmates in Sheriff Arpaio’s jails. Money for the program came from an anonymous donor whose case was solved by Silent Witness. A new strategy that’s giving families like Forst’s a renewed sense of hope.

“There are a lot of people who want to see this case solved,” said Forst. “I just hope word gets to the right person.”