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Durham betting on playing cards to solve homicides

Posted July 29, 2010

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— Nobody would blame Ellma McNair if she turned bitter. She has lost two children to murder – most recently, her son, Sharrod.

"He was just a soft-hearted, sweet guy," she said Thursday.

Sharrod McNair was 20 years old when he was shot in the chest outside Durham's Marvell Event Center on Dec. 31, 2006.

McNair says she's forgiven his killer, but she wants to know who did it.

"It's just something that's strong, that I really want to be taken care of," she said.

Her daughter, Tamikal McNair, says the need goes beyond curiosity.

"When my brother died, a part of me died, too, and I've been lost ever since," she said.

McNair's case is one of 53 unsolved homicides featured in a deck of playing cards (one card profiles two cases) that Durham Crime Stoppers will soon distribute to area jails and detention facilities, such as the Durham County Detention Center, Polk Correctional Institution in Butner and Central Prison in Raleigh.

Through donations, the organization has printed up 1,000 decks that showcase victims, locations and descriptions of unsolved homicide cases in Durham and Durham County that date to the 1980s.

Investigators hope the cards will trigger inmates' memories and that they will call Crime Stoppers' anonymous tip line. They could even receive award money for information leading to a felony arrest.

"I know inmates have some information," said Lt. Stan Harris with the Durham County Sheriff's Office. "It could definitely break a case wide open for us."

Durham betting on playing cards to solve homicides Durham betting on playing cards to solve homicides

Cpl. Marty Walkowe, who coordinates Durham Crime Stoppers, says he already gets calls from inmates about cases and hopes the playing cards will increase the number of tips Crime Stoppers receives.

He says he's looking for any information about the cases and isn't worried about false tips.

"The investigators' job is to discern whether it applies to that case or if that information is erroneous," Walkowe said.

Pat Ellis, chairman of Durham Crime Stoppers, said the idea came at a training conference and that other parts of the country, such as Florida, have seen crimes solved because of the cards.

"Somebody knows something about these homicides," he said.

Ellis says he hopes to get donations to be able to order more – each set of 1,000 costs about $3,700.

Tamikal McNair just hopes the cards work.

"I've been angry for years, and all I ask for is closure," she said.

24 Comments

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  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    Thanks and all be good. Have a great weekend.

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    PRAY FOR ALL THE YOUNG BLACK YOUNG MEN THAT THEY WILL LISTEN TO THEIR PARENTS AND SEE TOMORROW. PRAY FOR THE YOUNG WOMEN, TOO. PRAY FOR THE PARENTS; SINGLE OR MARRIED.

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    I bet the inmates will not talk unless they are going to be paid top dollar or be freed. Otherwise, they probably will not do it.

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    WE HAVE FIVE MORE MONTHS BEFORE THIS YEARS ENDS. WILL THERE BE MORE TRAGEDY CONCERNING YOUNG MEN OR HAVE WE LEARNED A VALUABLE LESSON?

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    African Americans who have overcome obstacles to have a nice life and their are those that keep the cycle circulating (murders,gangs,robberies) NAACP open your eyes up to the real issues
    burtonbrdr00

    I APPRECIATE READING YOUR COMMENT. WELL SAID AND THE TRUTH.

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    with the faith you are preaching here.

    Just to clear things up for you, I am not a preacher, minister or anything like that. Just an ordinary person who do believe in the lord.

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    A YOUNG MAN LOST HIS LIFE BECAUSE OF A TRAGEDY. WHY PUT HIS PICURE ON PLAYING CARDS. IS THIS WHAT SIGNIFIES HIS LIFE? HOW DID HIS FAMILY FEEL ABOUT IT? WHAT THIS RESPECTING OR DIS-RESPECTING THE FAMILY?

  • burtonbrdr00 Jul 30, 2010

    if you looked at the deck of cards in the video, you will see all but one individual is black..if the NAACP wants to get involved in wake county school boards business, why don't they solve the crime rates amongst the African American population first..get educated, move to a nice neighborhood..there are a lot of African Americans who have overcome obstacles to have a nice life and their are those that keep the cycle circulating (murders,gangs,robberies) NAACP open your eyes up to the real issues

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    MANY TIME THE TRUTH HURTS!

  • wildcat Jul 30, 2010

    Alleging that the victim of a murder was somehow culpable is hardly in keeping with the faith you are preaching here.

    Explain to us all here why this young man is laying dead. The life one leads tells their story. What is your life story?

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