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.

Prophet does Halloween

Prophet is getting old for a dog.  He’s over eight now, and I’m spotting grey whiskers, discolored eyebrow hairs and a general slowing of his body.  You’d think he’d be done with all this Halloween nonsense. I mean, I didn’t trick-or-treat past seventh grade (and even then, I was allowed out only because I was collecting for UNICEF by then).  Grown ups like Prophet and me are supposed to be done with all that silly child’s play.

Front Door Halloween Wreath

This is as spooky as my house gets

But no.  No matter how hard I try to be all serious and calm, the bobbing pumpkins come out each year from my basement storage box, along with “Casper” my front porch ghost.  And I remember the extravaganzas my small family and I would make of Halloweens past.

I’ll never forget the year my elder daughter rigged up a skeleton to drop from the ceiling of our front porch as we opened the door to give out candy.  Or the costumes put together with sweatshirts, baseball caps and face paint.  I was never one for masks.

And the dog!  Whichever one we had always seemed enthusiastic either for the open front door (opportunity to escape), or the candy he’d inevitably get into.

Prophet's Ready for Halloween

Prophet’s Ready for Halloween

For the past couple of years, my good guy and I have been away from home on Halloween night, and I missed handing out the goodies.  I love seeing the small princesses and ninja “men” parade up to my door.  Even the “kids” who I had to tilt my head up to see in their ghoulish interpretations of “fooling the bad spirits” were fun.

So this year, Prophet and I decided to stay home and welcome the trick-or-treat-ers once again.  My decorations were kept simple–by now I realize exactly who has to box them all up again–and I didn’t precisely get dressed for the occasion.  In years past I put on a sweatshirt with happy ghosts and corn candy dancing all over the bright orange background.  This year I put on a Broncos sweatshirt and my guy said it was a perfect costume of a football fan (I wouldn’t know–I hardly watch football any more).  I sat in my living room with the drapes open and the lights on.

Five o’clock came.  I hoped I wouldn’t be eating dinner when the first little ones arrived. Nope. No doorbell rings.

Six o’clock came. Dinner was done and no one came.  We started to watch a recorded television show, then stopped.  Wouldn’t want to be interrupted with Halloween passing-out-candy duties.  I grabbed my iPad and began playing games.

At Last! Trick-or-Treaters!

At Last! Trick-or-Treaters!

Seven o’clock, three Sudoku, and four Spider Solitaire games later, the first ring came. Yippee!  I jumped up from the couch.  Prophet came racing in from the kitchen, all blasts of his vocal chords working well.  We just about scared the poor little Kermit and Miss Piggy out of their wits with our enthusiastic “Happy Halloween!”  Each child had to be thoroughly sniffed before giving the few pieces of candy out.  At least Proph stayed in the house–sort of.

By nine o’clock Prophet and I had gone to the door maybe four times.  The children this year were all in sweet costumes. No scary stuff. No big kids. No hordes driven in vans from neighborhoods far away.  It was quiet–except for the one occasion when I heard a light paper crunching sound and caught Prophet stealing a couple of candy bars.  Meanie that I am, I took that chocolate right away from him.  The witches caldron was still almost full.  I suspect Prophet was trying to help me feel better, by taking some of that nasty stuff I was pushing on unsuspecting astronauts and Snow Whites.

Hidden Treasure in the Pantry

Shhh!!! Don’t tell anyone, but I’ll have candy for weeks yet.

I saved the nasty stuff from Prophet’s care and for the past five days have lived in a sugar high that I know will be my undoing.  I finally hid the candy in my pantry, but I know where those goodies are.  Maybe next year we’ll have more trick-or-treaters, but if not, Prophet and I won’t be too sad.  We know how to fill and empty that witch’s caldron.