Playing cards display Minnesota cold casesLuverne case from 1984 among those included
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — On May 28, 1984, a young woman’s body was found floating in a gravel pit a mile outside of Luverne. Authorities believe Kelly Robinson, who had been living in Sioux Falls, S.D. at the time of her death, died of asphyxiation at the age of 22. Her killer was never brought to justice.
Robinson is just one of the cold cases featured on playing cards that are being handed out to inmates in state and county correctional facilities and jails in hopes of gathering new information about the cases.
To bring new attention to some old cases, the Minnesota Corrections and Public Safety departments have teamed with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to create the cards, based on a similar program used in Florida.
Each card has a photo and information about the case, which range from missing persons to violent unsolved homicides. Jacob Wetterling’s photo and information are on the king of hearts. Robinson is on the three of clubs. Three unidentified remains of infants, all from Goodhue County, were selected to represent the aces of spades, clubs and diamonds. The cases go back as far as the 1960s, and come from all areas of the state.
More than 10,000 decks of the cards have been distributed, with the main goal being to generate leads that could lead to solving a cold case.
“Distributing these cards to thousands of inmates at jails and corrections facilities in Minnesota exposes cold cases to people that may have knowledge of them,” said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion. “The tips generated by these cold case cards will provide an excellent source of information to help law enforcement solve crimes and bring justice to the families.”
The cold cases featured on the cards represent a small portion of the numerous cold cases actively being investigated throughout the state.
Of the 52 cases highlighted, 57 individual victims are shown — each of whom was someone’s child, friend or family member. To choose which cases to highlight, a request was sent to more than 500 city and county law enforcement agencies throughout the state, who then nominated cases within their jurisdiction to the BCA Cold Case Unit Review Board.
The board selected the 52 cases to be featured, and written permission and photographs were collected from the families of victims whose cases were selected for playing cards.
According to Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge, there are two names that come up whenever homicide is discussed in his county. One is Carrie Nelson, who was murdered in 2001 and her killer just convicted this summer. The other is Robinson.
“This is before my time,” Verbrugge admitted. “I believe at one point there was a suspect, but it didn’t pan out.”
In 1984, DNA was not being used the way it is today, but Verbrugge thought at one point Robinson’s body may have been exhumed, though he could not say with any degree of certainty. The current investigator who has better knowledge of the case was not available for comment.
The cards can be viewed at www.bca.state.mn.us/ColdCase. Anyone with information can contact the BCA phone tip line at 1-877-996-6222.