How to Set Up a Crime Scene

Please note: Mac issues this morning.  Sorry for the lack of photos.  They won’t load. Grr!!!

Friday night at Colorado DanceSport, we Halloween partied the night away.  Costumes and snacks, pizza and performances were all to be found in great quantities.  In short, we had a ton of fun.

One of the entertainments was a crime scene I set up and had people demonstrate their powers of observation and deductive reasoning as they wandered through a full scale scene of murder.  Even as adults, I think there is a need for play in our lives, and acting on our instincts to be good detectives is a great game.

If you’d like to set up a crime scene, here are some things I learned as I built this project:

  1. START WITH A STORY – In order to be able to plant clues and create victims and suspects, it’s important to have a fully-fleshed out story.  It can be as wild as you want, but needs to follow a level of logic that makes your mystery solvable.  We started by murdering poor Len Goodman (he’s left Dancing With the Stars, you know), and making three of his real-time friends the suspects.  Here’s a tip: make each suspect’s story plausible, then remove either the weapon they would choose, or some other piece of evidence that would definitely make them the killer.  ONLY the killer’s clues remain in tact.
  2. KEEP AN INVENTORY LIST – This is crucial if you want all the clues in the right place for your amateur sleuths to find and follow.
  3. DO USE CRIME SCENE TAPE – I was able to find this Online at a reasonable price.  This both helps to set the mood, and keeps people from touching clues, so that everyone has a fair chance of solving the crime.
  4. MAKE A CLUE PACKET AND ANSWER SHEET – This will be part of your friends’ “detective kit.”  In our packet we put in a preliminary medical report, witness statements from four witnesses (the 3 suspects and a red herring), a crime scene inventory sheet, and my own “You the Sleuth” investigative sheet.  The last item had approximately 10 questions, some with multiple answers for a total of 24 points possible.
  5. BUILD THE SCENE – I used 4 X 8 insulation boards and some heavy stands to create the walls, and from there begged, borrowed, and small shopped to create a scene that had an office, gift shop, weight room, and ballroom dance floor within the dance studio’s smaller ballroom.  Check out Colorado DanceSport’s Halloween photo album on Facebook, in order to see the results.
  6. REMEMBER WIIFM RADIO — That’s the station that asks, “What’s in it for me?”  I put together this scene for the fun (check), the challenge (double check), and the opportunity to let more people know I write mysteries and would like to add them to my mailing list (check, check & check).

If you’d like help with planning your own murder mystery scene, please contact me.

And remember, Halloween doesn’t always have to be scary. It is a great time to play with being someone besides yourself.  Dress up and play games to keep the ghouls away.

Wishing you a fun, and creative week.

How Do You Say A Final Good-bye?

Maceo died Monday.  He hung on until his family returned from business out-of-town.  A heroic effort, really, as the growth in his mouth made it difficult to eat.  Maceo belonged to Harmony and Toby, but in a way, he was the Colorado DanceSport studio mascot and belonged to us all.

Maceo in healthier days

Maceo in healthier days.

As with any pet that’s not my own, I made no special note of when or how I met Maceo.  He was simply always at the studio, always a part of what was going on.  He slept in the sun rays of the dance floor door, or lay in wait for his “favorite” dancers at the front door to the studio.  I used to laugh about having to pay a small “tax” of dog treats when I came to practice or dance.

The thing I noticed most about this precious dog was the joy that shown from his eyes and the accompanying wag of tail.  When I asked him to sit or go down, somehow this special guy would jump into position with the sharpness dancers try to replicate in their Latin or Rhythm moves.  He had us all beat for such precise staccato moves. Pop! He was up and wagging his tail, then–Pop!–he was sitting, then–Pop!–he pounded his small body into the floor.  But there was always his doggie smile and that wag to follow.  What a treat.

A few months ago, I asked if Maceo had something wrong.  He was thin, too thin for a dog his size, and he was getting bad breath.  Not like our Maceo at all.  Toby and Harmony took him into the vet.  Nope. Nothing wrong.

They took him back a month ago, with more blood tests.  Maceo was licking his fur and it was matting inappropriately. Again, nothing.

Maceo the CDS dog

Maceo helping with the move.

Then, just as we were packing up the studio for its big move down the street, word came.  Maceo truly wasn’t well.  Cancer.  And not something treatable.  Stage four.  I can’t name the number of people who were crying and tearing up (guys don’t cry, don’t you know–even in ballroom dance circles).  Then came the days of holding on.

I don’t know if one goes through the five stages of grief over a dog, especially if the dog is “only” a pal one sees for five minutes each week.  But for the days we were together moving boxes and furniture, Maceo was an important reason to take breaks and play.  Mitch and Bobbi found doggie ice cream for him, a treat Maceo had never experienced before, but made the most of.  Others brought treats, and others brought loving hands to stroke, kiss, and play with this precious friend.  Several people offered to help Karen, Maceo’s “grandma” with any last clean-ups or final vet visits.  Thankfully, Maceo’s last days apparently didn’t have such drama.

Final kisses from a loving dog.

Final kisses from a loving dog.

The last time I saw Maceo was the Sunday of the move.  He came to the new studio and spent more time than not trying to find a comfortable new spot to lay.  Apparently he did — directly under the new studio sign across from the new reception desk.  He lay there and let the noise and the busy work swirl around him, a little too tired to snap into a sit or down position.

But when people came up to him, while he was too tired to jump up, his eyes still shown with great love of the people and the attention, and yes, his tail still wagged.

Who could ask for more?

Good-bye, Maceo.  You will always be loved.

Maceo Final Photo

One last photo by Jay Malik