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.