The new Massachusetts State Police Unresolved Case Unit is undertaking a new push to help break some of the state’s toughest cases.
This week, 7,000 decks of playing cards, each card containing the image of a missing persons case or an unsolved homicide, will be sent into the state prison system. The idea is to generate leads from inmates.
The MSP Unresolved Case Unit worked with participating district attorneys along with Boston, Worcester, and Springfield Police Departments to develop the first 52 cases featured on the cards. Some of the cases are familiar: Molly Bish, Theresa Corley, Debra Melo, Holly Piirainen, Jennifer Fay, Andy Puglisi among them. Other cases are not as widely known. But, all of them are unsolved, and all of them are featured on this first edition of cards.
“The victims in this deck were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, child, or partner. Much time may have passed since the crime that took them from their loved ones, but they, and the victims of all our unresolved cases, are not forgotten,” says Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason.
Many of the cases are familiar to me from my work featuring cases on New England’s Unsolved. I know how important it is for families to feel their cases are not left on a shelf to gather dust, that people are still working to find just justice.
Today I contacted the family of Jennifer Fay, a Brockton teenager missing since 1989, and the family of Holly Piirainen, a ten year old girl abducted from Sturbridge and murdered in 1993.
Yvette Aubin, Jennifer’s sister told me she hopes the new strategy will pay off big for her family.
“It’s another approach to a horrible situation that a lot of us have. I love that. I love that it’s new. I love that its fresh. I love that it’s going to get out there, to the people that it should be getting out there to,” Aubin said.
Carla Jackman is Holly Piirainen’s aunt. She believes the new approach could provide the critical tip after decades of painful waiting.
“What’s the harm in speaking up? You’re already in prison, help our family get this killer caught,” Jackman said.
The Massachusetts Department of Corrections provided the funding for the cards.
The cards also bear a brand new TIP LINE: 855.627.6583
“Our detectives and forensic specialists across the state work daily to solve cases like these,” Colonel Christopher Mason says, “often, after years of dedicated work by investigators, we find that we just need a little more information to solve the case. The people who loved, and were loved by, these victims have waited too long for justice. Help us end that wait.”
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