Museum fans go down the rabbit hole in search for murder mystery killer

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Making her point, The March Hare (Lori Query, top right) interrogates The Red Queen and King (Loralie Coffin and Richard Knapp) as Red Rose (Abby Prather) and The Executioner (Anthony Mullis) listen in during the Putnam County Museum Murder Mystery Dinner Saturday night. The mystery focused on characters from ”Alice in Wonderland,” including Alice herself (Marriette Bargen) and The White Rook (Dan Gillman). The culprit in the mystery killing of The Caterpillar was eventually revealed as The Duchess (Jack Blanchard, bottom right).
Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

With suspects ranging from the Cheshire Cat to the Mad Hatter to the White Rabbit, Putnam County Museum murder mystery dinner guests not only fed their head and remembered what the Dormouse said but correctly solved the case Saturday night.

With 25 participants on hand for the first event in the museum’s newly remodeled meeting space, Museum executive assistant Megan Rentfro conducted a magical mystery tour of Wonderland, imploring guests to ask questions of fellow diners and eliminate suspects to reach the proper conclusion, which nine participants ultimately did.

But not before enjoying a prime rib dinner cooked and served by Myers’ Market and sharing an atmosphere in which many of the spirited participants came dressed as characters from “Alice in Wonderland,” the story on which the murder mystery of who killed The Caterpillar (Scott Nowak) was based this night.

Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

Marriette Bargen was appropriately clad in white flowered dress as Alice and book-toting Jennifer Grimes was Lorina, Alice’s sister, while Pam and Dan Gillman were costumed, respectively as the Mock Turtle (no relation to Museum Executive Director Lisa Mock) and The White Rook.

Larry Tippin, featuring newly grown beard, played the King of Hearts with Toni Ford as his queen. Richard Knapp, meanwhile, was the Red King with Loralie Coffin his queen.

Jeff and Tricia Pierce portrayed the White Rabbit and Dormouse, respectively, while colorfully dressed and wearing matching caps and shirts, Jerrod and Tara Baugh came as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

Lori Query played the March Hare, while son Josh was the Mad Hatter, albeit only with a stocking cap.

A no-show mystery dinner couple, meanwhile, put Mark Mock and Museum Bonner Scholar intern Jack Blanchard in the line of fire as the pivotal roles of The Cheshire Cat and The Duchess fell to them.

Other characters included Red Rose (Abby Prather), The Executioner (Anthony Mullis), The Cook (Mary Burns), The Knave and Nine of Hearts (Chad and Kim Beadles), The Pigeon and Bill the Lizard (Pam and Phil McKinley), The Footman (Tony Smith), The Handmaiden (Rebecca Clayton) and The Gardener (Marsha Nowak).

When the questioning subsided, nine participants considered motive, means and opportunity to correctly cast their votes for The Duchess, rightful heir to the throne of Wonderland, sportingly played by Blanchard without crown or contempt.

Four players incorrectly picked the quiet and unassuming Lorina (Jennifer Grimes), while three more opted for The Cheshire Cat (Mark Mock), much to their chagrin.

With the mystery solved and capitalizing on its success, Rentfro announced that the museum has already scheduled another murder mystery dinner, slated for Saturday, June 23. The theme, as the result of a recent Facebook poll, will be an ‘80s prom.

“So get all Aqua Netted up,” Rentfro suggested, alluding to a big-hairy-deal of an evening to come.

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