Navarro County Sheriff’s Capt. Cecil Ann Spencer is making card games both informative as well as potentially crime solving.

In 2005, Spencer, her husband Jimmy and Barbara McVay attended a regional Crime Stoppers conference in San Antonio. There the Navarro County representatives were introduced to the playing cards with unsolved homicides and cases on the back of the cards. The idea was to distribute the cards in the jails across the state and see if any of the convicts could potentially aid the efforts of Crime Stoppers.

It was an idea Spencer liked.

“They were explaining it and I thought how neat!,” the captain said.

On the cards is the local Crime Stoppers phone number, the case itself with the suspect’s name and information, as well as reward information.

Of course, the cards themselves are regulation size.

Inmates at the Navarro County Detention Center are allowed, for a brief time each day, to play card games and other activities. Spencer thought having the cards in the jail could help solve some of the larger crimes in the area.

Due to there being only a few cases left in the county that are unsolved, Spencer put the same case in the deck four times.

The cases are from both the Sheriff’s Office as well as the Corsicana Police Department.

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Crime Stoppers tool, Spencer and the department got a first look at the product about a month ago. The department ordered 1,000 decks and several of those decks are already in the jail.

In addition, Spencer arranged for the decks to be placed with inmates’ personal property, so when they leave the jail they have the cards.

The purpose of the cards is simple — solve unsolved homicides. The method, however, is new and cutting-edge.

The Sheriff’s office is the first in the immediate area to use the cards and based on preliminary indications, it has been working.

Spencer said in the past, fund-raisers were held to help pay for reward money for Crime Stoppers tips. Nowadays, District Judge John Jackson orders criminals to pay $25 toward the reward money as part of fines.

“We have come a long way since then,” Spencer said.

Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment on felony crimes. Residents who call do not have to give their name. Navarro County Crime Stoppers’ number is (903) 874-TIPS.


AJ Narasimhan may be contacted via e-mail at


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