Library hosts murder mystery event for first time


Katarina Rothhorn

The five accused culprits of the fictional murder line up to give their testimonies including (left to right) Alicia played by Daisy Lupa, Pirate Jim Blade played by Duncan Muter, Queen Black’s ghost played by Abby Weatherholt, Princess Ice White played by AK Ikezoe, Pandella played by Leslie Warren and Magnificent played by Taylor Meyers.

Katarina Rothhorn, Features Editor

Students dressed up in blood red capes, corsets, crowns and swords mingled outside of the locked library doors on Friday, Oct. 22 as the sun began to set behind them. When the doors finally opened, they introduced themselves with names such as “Gwen, the Nice Witch,” “Blondilox” and “Robby Hood” and received sealed white envelopes containing slips of paper. 

Once everyone was inside, the doors were shut and the Lydia M. Olson Library’s Murder Mystery Event had officially begun. 

“What I really loved was right before we opened when there was the big crowd and the excitement,” Leslie Warren, the Dean of Library and instructional support and the character Pandella, said. “There were just so many people here and ready to get started.”

The event was organized by senior art and design major AK Ikezoe and had over 40 participants engage in a dark fantasy themed murder mystery scenario with three rounds of clues. Each player received a character name and associated backstory as well as two sets of clues throughout the evening. 

The event was structured as a peace treaty party between citizens of the fictional Enchanted Realm which required participants to talk to one another and gather clues about the motives of other characters. 

“I had several friends who were coming with, but due to the nature of the game, I actually did not spend that much time with them, and instead, I talked with new people,” Daisy Lupa, political science major and the character Alicia, said. “Meeting new people is always hard, and COVID has made it so much more difficult, but this was a really fun way to talk to new people.”

After an hour or so of talking, getting into character, exploring rooms, forming alliances and eating snacks provided by NMU Dining, the lights in the library went dark. 

When they turned back on, Queen Black, the supposed hostess of the peace treaty party, was found “dead” on the floor. 

The death of Queen Black, played by Abby Weatherholt, a senior Environmental Studies and Sustainability major, sparked another round of questioning among the players about what blood type each character had. Five characters were eventually found to have their fingerprints on the murder weapon which was a lantern from the princess’ chambers. 

Those characters gave a rehearsed testimony and ended with the character Magnificent admitting to being the murderer and asking for forgiveness amidst a cheer of support from the other characters. 

“Honestly, the fact that everybody immediately cheered when they said that I was the one that did it [was my favorite part,]” Taylor Meyers, senior elementary education major and character Magnificent, said. “The fact that everyone was so ready to just hang [the character Pandella] but as soon as I said I did it, they were all like, ‘Yeah, that’s great, that’s amazing.’ So that was fun. The reveal was really fun.”

The entire storyline was found online as a part of a pre-made murder mystery event package which made organizing the event much easier. After students voted on a dark fantasy theme for the event, Ikezoe scoured the internet for one that she thought would interest the students the most. 

“It was really funny because I didn’t even know what we were getting into,” Ikezoe said. “The only names we knew were Queen Black, Silver Tree Forest, Mystic Mountains and then we were opening it and we were like ‘Pandella, Blondielox, this is hilarious.’” 

Ikezoe, who is a creative writing minor, thinks it would have been fun to create an entire storyline for the event from scratch, but that would have required too much time and energy than the library could afford. Instead, they dedicated a lot of effort into creating an event that included handwritten envelopes and well-crafted decorations for an evening that everyone could enjoy. 

Some of the main characters in the story, such as Queen Black, Magnificent and those whose fingerprints were found on the lantern, were played by library staff so that their presence at the event was guaranteed. 

“There were several characters that I noticed in the [script], if they’re not there, the whole thing kind of falls apart,” Ikezoe said. “I really can’t handle the anxiety of someone who just doesn’t show up. So I was giving those characters out to reliable people including my co workers, because I knew it was a very heavy social event.”

While these characters may have known they were going to “die” or be the murderer, they were given no other information and went into the event as any other participant. 

At the end of the evening, awards were given out to the participant with the best acting skills and the best costume, as voted on by the other players. 

Sylvia Dhaseleer, sophomore secondary education major and the character of Petey Pan, won the award for best costume with her leather boots, green cloak and vines wrapped around her body.

“Almost all of it is from my Renaissance costume that I put together over the summer,” Dhaseleer said. “When I signed up I picked a role that I knew I would have a costume for.”

Dhaseleer, like many people at the event, found it to be an exciting event that offered students the opportunity to meet new people, dress up and try to figure out a mystery in a fun environment.

“I would totally attend something like this again. It was really fun, exciting to prepare for, and a great way to meet new people,” Lupa said. “The library staff also did a great job of setting it up, advertising it and showing patrons how it worked. I hope the library holds more events like it in the future.”