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Murder Mystery lures people downtown to solve psuedo crime

By Jessica Rodrigo
March 21, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2013 at 10:21 p.m.

The ladies of CSI: Cuero, from left, Kailey Leske, Mary Beth Finney, Haley Urbanovsky and Lonna Slone, crowd together to read the instructions they were given to start the Downtown Victoria Murder Mystery on Thursday night at De Leon Plaza. Investigators had to discover the murderer, the murder weapon and the location, similar to the board game Clue.

The clouds crept in above the sparse canopy spread over De Leon Plaza as a man with a cap and leather bag called out the names of the pretend investigators.

A murder was committed in downtown Victoria, and it was up to area investigators to solve the crime of the Case of the Dead Paparazzi.

On Thursday night, 17 teams of dedicated pseudo-detectives descended into downtown to solve the murder mystery hosted by the Victoria Main Street Program.

Equipped with a heavy, metallic red Maglite flashlight and a smaller flashlight clipped to the bill of her pink camouflaged hat, Mary Beth Finney, of Cuero, was prepared for a night of investigating.

The 54-year-old arrived at De Leon Plaza with her three teammates, Lonna Slone, 52; Kailey Leske, 26; and Haley Urbanovsky, 24, all of Cuero; eager to start the event. They dubbed their team CSI: Cuero for the event.

"My husband watches NCIS 24/7, so we're ready," Finney said jokingly. "We can solve the case; we've seen it on TV enough."

To bring to life the event, executive director Sara Rodriguez collaborated with Quizzo Detroit, a company out of Michigan that specializes in pub trivia.

She learned about the company online when researching what the next big event for the program to promote the downtown area would be.

"I read this story about this community in Michigan that had used (Quizzo Detroit) as a United Way fundraiser," she said. "The rest of it went from there. We negotiated, and we brought them down."

Donny Klemmer, of Quizzo Detroit, describes the activity as a combination of the Amazing Race and the board game Clue.

"We took the murder mysteries out of the theater and put them in a downtown setting, so teams go around to crime locations, interview informants and find clues, look for weapons," he said. "Eventually, (participants) have to narrow it down to who done it, with what weapon and where in order to solve the game correctly."

Once Finney and her team grabbed their packets from the man at the gazebo, they opened the envelope with haste and Finney had her Maglite targeted on the paper, each member holding steady as they read the notes aloud.

The clues in each packet include scavenger-hunt-like activities that need to be completed in order to move forward in the case.

Team members were balancing on benches, taking photos with their smartphones, talking to strangers and laughing about not knowing Tim Tebow's signature move.

To help people learn more about what the downtown Victoria has to offer, Rodriguez and Klemmer built the murder mystery to span from Juan Linn to Commercial streets and from Glass to Williams streets.

"I think it's important (to bring people downtown)," Rodriguez said. "We have to have the people before we can do anything else. Getting people down here and introducing them to what is actually here and what we can do here is the first step."

CSI: Cuero was fortunate to know where the businesses in the mystery were, but other participants may not have been so lucky. A couple from Nevada was in town and decided to register for the event, said Rodriguez.

"They thought the event would be fun," she said.

At the end of night, all the teams converged on the steps of the Nave Museum where the mystery was revealed. But in order to win, the winning group has to have all the pieces of information correctly match that of Klemmer. And it's possible to have more than one winner, he said.

"We've had about four to six teams solve the mystery," Klemmer said. "That's when we have to do a tie-breaker to find the winner."

Winners of the mystery each night will win prizes donated from from downtown businesses including Greek's 205, Victoria Public Library, Rosebud and more.

It won't be easy for everyone to solve the mystery after Thursday night's successful investigators solved the crime.

Each night will have a different solution, Klemmer said. So grab a flashlight and a magnifying glass and prepare for an investigation.



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