The face of a missing Gore man and the story of his disappearance can now be found in a deck of cards.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) recently announced a new approach to searching for leads in cold cases.
The OSBI has selected 52 cold case homicides, missing persons, and unidentified persons cases from across the state, including the case of the missing Stephan Adams.
Stephan Adams disappeared Dec. 13, 2004, after leaving Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He told a friend he was taking someone to Keys. He was driving a white 1995 GMC pickup truck with chrome bed rails. The truck’s license tag was SCQ-714. Anyone with any knowledge of Adams’ whereabouts or what happened to him, is asked to call the OSBI hotline at 1-800-522-8017 or email a tip to email@example.com.
District Attorney Jack Thorpe is also working on the Adams case.
He said, “I took that case over in 2012. Stephan is the Jack of Spades in the card deck, and I am still working on that case. We’re hopeful this (card deck project) will help. The case touches several counties.”
Adams is originally from Gore in Sequoyah County, was last seen in Cherokee County, and has family in Wagoner County. Thorp represents all three and Adair County.
OSBI is launching this new approach with the help of the Department of Corrections (DOC). Recently, OSBI put 52 cold case homicides, missing persons, and unidentified victims on a deck of playing cards. There were 5,000 decks printed and sold to inmates within DOC facilities. OSBI is working on a second edition with more cold cases from across the state.
Prisoners often possess information on crimes committed by associates and others. OSBI is hopeful the cards will entice inmates to contact OSBI with information.
That information could lead to a reward. Money from the sale of the cards will go back into the program to purchase subsequent sets of playing card with cold cases from law enforcement agencies.
The 5,000 decks cost the agency $5,450 ($1.09/deck). The money was paid from the agency’s evidence funds, used to pay confidential informants. DOC will charge slightly more than the decks cost to recoup the expense.
Numerous other states have initiated this program with success, the OSBI announced. According to the playing card manufacturer, Florida state law enforcement pushed the cards out to prisoners and received 60 new tips on cold cases. One cold case was solved within a few months of the cards’ distribution. Colorado, Connecticut, and South Carolina have had great success with the cards as well.
The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Anthropologist Angela Berg and Mike Nance, with the University of North Texas who is the regional assistant administrator for NamUs, worked to gather information from missing persons and unidentified victims in Oklahoma. These two people and an OSBI special agent make up the committee that reviews cold cases to ensure each meets the criteria for the cards. Case criteria include the cases being homicides, missing person(s), or unidentified victim.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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