A 1983 Pottawatomie County unsolved murder and missing persons case is among the state cases featured in the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's new deck of playing cards that are being distributed in Oklahoma prisons.

A 1983 Pottawatomie County unsolved murder and missing persons case is among the state cases featured in the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's new deck of playing cards that are being distributed in Oklahoma prisons.

When prisoners get bored and get a deck of playing cards from the commissary to pass the time, the new Series 2 Cards are anything but ordinary. Each deck features a photo and information on an Oklahoma unsolved homicide, missing person or unidentified victim case and investigators hope they will generate tips from behind bars.

Two of the playing cards in the new deck profile the case of Paul Jones and his wife, Melody (Garton) Jones, a case that has been a mystery in Pottawatomie County for 35 years.

Melody was 19 years old when she disappeared back in 1983; her husband, Paul, 20, was found dead in the couple’s rural Earlsboro area home.

The case has remained unsolved for decades, but investigators hope a partnership between the sheriff's office, OSBI and now the Attorney General's office will help the investigation.

Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer and OSBI Special Agent Meghan Bowman met with Melody's family members Tuesday morning at the Pottawatomie County courthouse to go over the new playing cards and how they will work. The appreciative family hopes they might be the key that brings the next tip or break in the case.

Melody's picture and information is profiled on the Ace of Diamonds and Paul's information is on the King of Diamonds.

And with 52 cases profiled in a deck of cards, Melody's brother, Randy Garton, said the lives of many families are being touched by this program.

The Jones case file, although it has likely seen shelf time over 35 years and several different sheriff's administrations, remains an open case and will remain active under Sheriff Mike Booth, Palmer said.

Most recently in 2017, sheriff’s investigators, using their hands, tools and even a backhoe, searched a 10-acre property in Earlsboro after new information surfaced in the case, but that search produced no new leads and didn’t answer any questions.

At that time and again on Tuesday, the undersheriff said he believes this case is still solvable.

On May 4, 1983, Melody spent the day fishing with her family. Her then 18-year-old brother, Randy, gave her a ride home and dropped her off at the rural Earlsboro home she shared with her husband. He saw the door ajar with lights on inside.

On the morning of May 5, 1983, Melody didn’t show up for work at the Dairy Queen in Seminole. Her mother, now deceased, went to Melody’s home and discovered her son-in-law’s body. Melody wasn’t there, but all of her personal belongings, including her purse and eyeglasses, were found inside. The couple’s car was still parked in the driveway.

Their home, which has long since burned down following a grass fire, was in an area about one-half mile west of SH 9A on Benson Park Road. The landscape of that property today looks nothing like it did back then.

In 1983, Paul Abel was the sheriff of Pottawatomie County. His office, along with the OSBI, probed the case as a murder and kidnapping, news archives show. Deputies searched the area around the home on foot and horseback, covering about 160 acres, while a search by helicopter covered a 6-square-mile area. They found no sign of Melody or any clues in the case.

Palmer, who said he found what was left of the case file in a vault a few years back, took a new look at the case. And with the help of the OSBI and its Cold Case efforts, he and Bowman have been tracking down numerous leads. Several of those tips came in last October when agents began searching for anyone who might have worked at the Dairy Queen in Seminole back in 1983-84, the same time Melody worked there.

Since then, they've interviewed several people and even traveled to another state to follow a lead.

As part of the search to find Melody, Bowman said the OSBI does have a relative's DNA on file through NameUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System), just in case any DNA collected from bodies or remains found anywhere in the U.S. might be a match. Palmer said they've already ruled out possible remains from both Kentucky and Texas.

Both investigators said if Melody is buried somewhere and found, DNA can be a key factor in the case.

Bowman, who said they just need a break to lead them in the right direction, said technology advancements, including ground penetrating radar, can also be helpful tools in cold case investigations. She too feels someone knows information about this case.

And while following a cold case is tough, Palmer said he and Bowman, working together, are willing to go the extra mile.

“This case is solvable — somebody knows something. All they've got to do in make that phone call,” Palmer said. And who knows, the suspect in this case may be in prison on another crime, he added.

The playing cards will reach thousands of inmates in the DOC system. Palmer, who said inmates have plenty of time to sit and play cards, said inmates also like to talk about what they've done or what they've heard. As any potential witnesses to what happened in 1983 keep getting older, investigators hope one of those stories might be a helpful tip to investigators.

And while Palmer has been clear not to make any promises to the family that they will be able to solve the case, he does vow to do everything he can to find Melody and give the family some closure.

“As long as I'm drawing a breath, I'm not going to give up,” Palmer said.

And with that, Melody's family members expressed their appreciation for what is being done, sharing hugs with both Palmer and Bowman.

Anyone with information on this case can call the OSBI tipline at 1-800-522-8017 or the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office at 405-275-2526.