A Murderer at the Museum

I’ve been trying to figure out how to set up a live murder mystery evening sans dinner, sans skit, just a simple game similar to Clue. The best way I’ve come up with so far, is to finger six or seven suspects, tell why they hated the victim, and offer alibis for each. Visitors will be given this brief history, along with a check list of suspects so they can cross off those they know couldn’t have done it.

I spent the afternoon at the history museum trying to find a mystery and decided to kill off Clay Allison, a self-proclaimed shootist, ten years before he actually died. (He died at 45 when he fell off a wagon —literally — and a wheel ran over his neck.) Considering that Allison killed a deputy in this county and was never prosecuted (the killing was considered self-defense though the deputy had been doing his job as a lawman at the time of the gunfight in the saloon), I figure a lot of local folk back then would have liked to dispatch the evildoer.

Or maybe he did himself in — after all, he’d once shot himself in the foot as evidenced below.

Although it’s easy leaving clues and red herrings, the difficulty comes in proving which of the alibis are correct. (It’s much easier proving them wrong.)

At the suggestion of one writer friend, one of the suspects will be out of time/place (he will have been born after the shoot-out), and the only clue of his innocence will be his date of birth. One woman, a dance hall girl, will say she was with the local chiropractor, and though he will deny it, a photo of the two of them will be hung somewhere in the museum.

And that’s as far as I’ve got. One suggestion I considered was to use the time zone change. Although today it would work since the dateline is only an hour or two away, back then, it would have been a couple of days hard ride, so I haven’t been able to make that work.

Since this is more of a scavenger hunt than a live Clue game or skit, the clues to who didn’t do it need to be visual so they can be scattered around the museum. Luckily, I still have a couple of weeks to figure this out.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

7 Responses to “A Murderer at the Museum”

  1. Judy Galyon Says:

    Did they even have different time zones back then?

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    i’m happy that you at least considered my idea. Are you still struggling to figure out some of the alibis? I have a few more ideas, if you’re interested.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Alibis aren’t a problem though I welcome your suggestions. What I really need are ways for people to prove that the alibi is correct so they can cross that suspect off the list.

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        How about a medical condition? You can always cross a suspect off the list based on their poor health. I would recommend brittle bone disease or asthma. They are very easy to prove.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          It wouldn’t be easy to prove such an illness in 1877, when the murder takes place. And keep in mind, this is not a novel. Those who are hunting through the museum looking for clues to prove that a particular character did not murder the deceased gunman might never have read a mystery. See why it’s such an interesting challenge? It’s a lot easier to prove that someone lied about their alibi than to prove that they didn’t.

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