A murder most foul in the CUE

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER | Evergreen reporter

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The Criminal Justice Club (CJC) put on a murder mystery night titled “Homicide at the Harrison House” on Friday, during which participants could play as characters and live lives full of fantastical drama for a few hours.

The idea for the event, a club fundraiser based on the board game and film “Clue,” came from CJC president Sam Bill, a junior criminal justice major.

“We’d been toying around with fundraising ideas for a while, and I suggested a murder mystery night because I’d done a few in the past,” Bill said. “It’s really fun and a great bonding experience.”

This was the second annual murder mystery fundraiser after the club sold about 40 tickets last year. This kind of fundraiser is also a good way to get anyone with any interest in criminal justice to hear about the club, Bill said.

Each murder mystery game has a different plot, but most have the same basic structure – a generally wealthy and successful individual hosts a dinner party. All the party attendees have some dramatic background that makes the character interesting to play.

“You’re acting as another character, and you’re trying to figure out what happened,” Bill said. “It’s basically real life ‘Clue.’ ”

MICHAEL LINDER | The Daily Evergreen
The Criminal Justice Club used pizza and soda to portray a party scene for its event.

I played the character Jordan Jones, an ultra-fake and overly friendly realtor. She had disdain for a narcissistic, roller skating rink owner name Tracy Howe, a dislike that many other characters who attended the party shared. Howe had bullied my character in high school and was cyberbullying her at the time of the party to ruin her career. As Jones, I was instructed to confront Howe only a few minutes before he was killed, and I was thus a prime suspect for his death.

Most of the drama surrounded the death of party attendee Bronte Vance’s sister before the game began. Her death was blamed on several other party attendees, and it appeared all the evidence pointed back to Howe.

After all the participants completed their objectives, round two began, and the drama flared up once more. An attendee of the party found Howe murdered. Participants then turned on their real-life friends and accused them of murder. Everyone claimed that their limited evidence and alibis were enough to prove them innocent.

A friend who attended the event with me played Bronte Vance, who had the clearest motive to kill Howe. When the alibis and evidence after the murder were announced, I found his to be not nearly enough and immediately turned on my friend by insisting he was the killer. He’d left just before the murder happened and had no solid alibi; plus, if I could convince the others it was him, maybe they would believe it wasn’t me.

At this point, the partygoers voted for whom they believed was the killer. I had to keep my bit about throwing Vance under the bus going, so I clearly voted for him. During this portion, we also voted for best-dressed and best actor to see who really committed the most to the game.

When round three came, the motives of all party guests were revealed, as well as the murderer. This was the most interesting part, because the crazy character backgrounds were so interesting. A mob boss character was unveiled, as was a secret princess and the crazy neighbor of a movie star. Vance was revealed to be the murderer, who killed Howe to avenge his sister’s death. I was overjoyed to have been correct.

After the details were released, the votes were as well, and it turned out others accepted my argument against Vance, seeing as over half the attendees thought it was him from the start.

Most individuals who ran the event or were participants stayed in character, but were able to bond with each other over the crazy objectives they were assigned. This evening was not meant to be stressful for those involved, but a fun event to pretend to be someone else.

“I think it’s really fun to see people go out of their comfort zones, by pretending to be someone they’re not and go up and talk to complete strangers,” Bill said. “It’s important to have a great way to de-stress before dead week and an opportunity to meet new people.”