Murder At Curst Mansion Invitation

Murder Mystery Night 2019

Will there be intrique, mystery and murder?

by Carole McWilliams

For members of the small Pine River Centennial Rotary Club in Bayfield CO, the fifth question in the Four Way Test is, “Will it be fun?” Perhaps even a sixth question could be added “Will there be intrigue, mystery and murder?”

The answer was definitely “Yes!” at their first ever murder mystery party on Feb. 24, 2019. It came after a week of heavy snows in Southwest Colorado brought about heavy-hearted feelings of cabin fever, so members and spouses were very ready for serious fun and socializing, aided by lots of food and adult beverages.

  • Murder Mystery

Former club presidents Rick and Becky Smith instigated the event. Club members raided their closets or hit the local thrift stores for outfits with a 1920s look, the time period for the murder. Rick Smith served as police inspector Gavin Alaugh and MC

Some club members had specific character parts with designated things to say, but there was plenty of ad libbing and serious emoting. The remaining club members who didn’t have specific parts also could ask questions of the characters or make comments, and they did.

Member Kevin Aten was Al Capop. He insistently described himself as “just a humble businessman” providing adult beverages to the community. Remember this was during Prohibition. Member Tom Mankins was William Curst, a powerful media publisher and community rich guy hosting the party at his mansion. 

It was there that newspaper writer Oscar Tame ended up dead. He seemed to have a lot of enemies, including competing newspaper writers Lois Bong, played by former club president Carole McWilliams, and Alice Sedd, played by president elect nominee Barbara Wickman. Lois and Alice didn’t have anything good to say about each other either.

Former District 5470 Governor Roger Ptolemy, a member of the Durango Evening Club, put padding under his shirt to portray Fatty Beltbuckle. Club President Elect Carrie Bergfalk came with slicked back hair, a snazzy mustachio and a spiffy suit to play Rudolph Maraschino. 

Then there were the shady ladies. Shauna Unger played Carrie Onvamping. Brenna Morlan played club singer Lessie Smore. Both wore flapper dresses adorned with beads, feathers and boas. Beth Vance was stunning as has-been actress Mary Pickmas, although she tweaked the name to remove the “m” and add another “s”. Husband Bill Vance played n’er do well inventor Hardy Happenen whose only successful invention was the hair gel he used to style his own hair.

The evening concluded with each of the suspects and each of the participants having a say in who they thought committed the murder and what their motivation might have been. No one in the room knew which one of them would be tabbed as the killer, until police detective Smith provided the resolution. What does it say about the club members when the data showed that not one single person correctly identified Al Capop as the murder?

The event wasn’t intended to be a fundraiser or a community service project. It was purely for fun, enhancing the sense of camaraderie among members. McWilliams commented, “We’re doing our part to kill the image of Rotarians as stodgy conservative older people.”