The guests at Becky Giovanni and Stanley Simpson’s wedding reception were all having an enjoyable evening until the lights were killed, along with the newlywed bride.
This would have been shocking had it not been the Student Activities Weekend Life Council’s Murder Mystery Dinner. This year’s dinner was conceived in November 2011 and planned out by a council of five students and two supervisors.
Samantha Shetty, a sophomore majoring in biology and member of the Weekend Life Council, was very pleased with the turnout of people this year. “I think it wasn’t catered to entertain a large group of people,” Shetty said. “It was a selected targeted audience and everyone who signed up to show up came, so, overall, I think it was a great success.”
The night started off with eager guests awaiting the arrival of the new groom, Stanley, played by Anthony Molinari, a senior majoring in information systems, who was running late. Guests read their objectives cards, which helped them gain important information on other characters; were given some fake money; and began walking around introducing themselves to others.
I was a neighbor and friend of the groom and his family, and I wound up sitting with other guests who were also acquainted with Stanley Simpson at one point or another. When the line for food opened up, the father of the bride, Tony Giovanni, a powerful and wealthy man with ties to the mob, went around charismatically greeting each guest.
But Mr. Giovanni was just one of the many suspicious characters that attended the festivities that evening. Darlene Simpson, Stanley’s sister, hated Becky and complained about the marriage all through the night. Karen Cake, the wedding coordinator, had been yelled at and overworked by Becky, so the two did not get along.
It was when Stanley and Becky made their way to the front of the room to make a toast that the lights went out, a thud was heard and upon the power being restored, Becky was seen face down on the floor. Some guests screamed while others gasped in surprise. “I felt the bullet fly right by me,” Stanley said. “It could have hit me.”
At this point, it was act two of the dinner, and guests were handed their second sheet of objectives. Things finally got really interesting. Some party guests were given secrets that were known only to them, and could be used to blackmail others or used to hide their innocence. While most started questioning members of both families, others used their secrets as a scheme to make money.
I talked to some guests and found out that Mr. Giovanni had hired a hitman, Harry Hitt, to take out Stanley. Fellow party guests instantly became suspicious of the bride’s father. The groom’s father, Hugh Simpson, instantly became a threat as well when people discovered that he sold Becky’s life insurance, which was worth a small fortune, and made Stanley the beneficiary.
The guests were all called together when the hotel’s chief of security finished investigating the crime scene. He revealed that he came across specific evidence that may reveal the killer. A note telling Harry Hitt to kill Becky was found with Tony Giovanni’s initials on it. Along with Hugh Simpson’s life insurance policy for Becky and Stanley, Tony’s will and the tickets for the honeymoon were arranged by Stanley’s brother, Brutus, a travel agent.
Party guests cast their votes as to who they thought did it, and it was revealed in the end that Stanley’s brother, Brutus, was the killer. He forged the note to frame Tony, but, in doing so, proved that the signature was different from the one on Tony’s will. Brutus was afraid that his brother and business partner would be stolen away from him by Becky, so he killed her. Only five guests guessed correctly, and I was surprised that my sleuthing skills made me one of the lucky few.
Molinari has been attending the Murder Mystery dinners for some time now, and he finds them entertaining and fun to be a part of. “Speaking for Stanley, I felt betrayed by my brother,” Molinari said.
As for his “brother” Brutus, played by junior computer science major Nick Ela, he felt differently. “Becky was no good for him,” Ela said tapping into his character. “I thought more people would guess it was me. I had some pretty suspicious lines, and I had a feeling I’d wind up being the murderer.” Ela, who, like his character also has a brother, said that if he was ever in the same situation as Brutus, he would not commit murder, though only for legal reasons.