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Leanna Warner's image is on the ace of hearts in the new playing deck distributed to inmates. Warner, of Chisholm, was 5 years old when she disappeared in June 2003.

State issues playing cards bearing images of cold cases

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Authorities are hoping a deck of cards will generate new leads from inmates in 52 missing person and homicide cases that have gone cold in Minnesota.

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Thousands of the decks are being handed out to inmates in state prisons, county jails and other correctional facilities in Minnesota. Each card features an unsolved case, with the victim's picture, brief details of the case and where to call in a tip. Among the 52 cases are at least six from Northeastern Minnesota.

But why hand them out to inmates?

Because they know a lot about crimes, says Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion. The hope is the cards will prompt those with knowledge about a case to phone in a tip that could lead to solving the case and provide answers for victims' families.

"I think it's a great idea," said Chris Warner, whose daughter, Leanna Warner, was 5 when she was last seen on June 14, 2003, in Chisholm. "It puts it back in the face of anybody responsible for anybody in that deck. I'm glad they created a constant reminder."

If the person responsible for Leanna's disappearance is incarcerated, "let him keep looking at it," Warner said of Leanna's card. For others who may know something about the case, constantly seeing the cards may get them talking about it, he said.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian suggested the program as a way to tap into inmate knowledge of criminal activity, after hearing about a similar effort in Florida. In Minnesota, the corrections and public safety departments teamed up with local low enforcement to create the deck of playing cards.

The deck also includes Trina Langenbrunner, 33, whose beaten and stabbed body was found near a rural road in Southern St. Louis County on Sept. 3, 2000.

When told about the playing cards, Shawn Langenbrunner, the victim's husband, was hesitant.

"I don't know how I feel about that at all," said Langenbrunner who was concerned that criminals might use the cards for other purposes. "If it helps, that's great, but I have mixed feelings about it."

Other Northeastern Minnesota cases in the deck are:

* Nancy Daugherty, 38, found slain in her Chisholm home on July 16, 1986, before a planned move to the Twin Cities.

* Leona Mary Maslowski, 81, whose body was found beaten and stabbed in her Virginia residence on Oct. 5, 1987.

* Cindy Elias, 19, whose body was found under brush along a rural logging road north of Aurora on March 24, 1977. She had earlier been at a Virginia bar.

* Barbara Paciotti, 20, missing since June 14, 1969, when she was last seen riding in a 1964 Oldsmobile with a friend in Hibbing.

All 52 playing cards are posted on the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Web site, www.bca.state.mn.us. Tips can be called into the tip line at (877) 996-6222.

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