Arts and Entertainment

Participants determine 'Deadly Deed' culprit at Langley Mystery Weekend

Zach McKenna, 12, of Kirkland shows his younger sister Nola pieces of the crime scene during Langley Mystery Weekend on Saturday, Feb. 22. McKenna, of Kirkland, said he likes how the community comes together to solve the mystery every year.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Zach McKenna, 12, of Kirkland shows his younger sister Nola pieces of the crime scene during Langley Mystery Weekend on Saturday, Feb. 22. McKenna, of Kirkland, said he likes how the community comes together to solve the mystery every year.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Langley’s 30th annual mystery weekend came to a close Sunday as residents and out-of-towners cracked the case of “The Deadly Deed.”

More than 1,000 people joined fictional detective I.B. Fuzz to solve the murder during Langley Mystery Weekend, a live murder-mystery produced by the Langley Chamber of Commerce. The complex story, by Loretta Martin, wove together 24 characters as suspects in the murder of fictional Italian citizen Carmelo Geaherdelli.

On the first day, suspicions were scattered amongst the characters as clues were gathered from more than 30 participating businesses.

For Evan Mahnken of Bellevue, the top suspect was one of the 49ers club members. The club claimed ownership of the deceased Geaherdelli’s properties.

Mahnken is no newbie to Langley’s mysteries. This was his sixth year participating in the event with his family.

Mahnken spent some time questioning Geaherdelli’s son, Dino, regarding his whereabouts the night of his father’s murder in front of Good Cheer Thrift Store. The son dodged Mahnken’s questions in front of a growing crowd of passers-by, but revealed to Mahnken he did not know how his father earned his fortune.

The mystery has become a tradition for the family which visits restaurants and the South Whidbey area during the annual mystery weekend.

Kirkland resident Zach McKenna’s primary suspect was character Max Lawless, who represented a real estate developer interested in Geaherdelli’s assets.

“I don’t know why, he just seems creepy,” Zach explained.

Zach, 12, sought clues from the scene of the crime at Langley Library and tried to make sense of the evidence he saw: a feather, pen, folder and blood. 

This was Zach’s third time participating in the event. Zach said he liked how the community came together to solve the mystery. He hoped to solve the crime after being really close last year.

“In fact, I almost got it,” he said.

For his mom, Cerise Vablais, the event was a chance to get together with friends from as far away as Nevada. Together they enjoyed visiting Langley stores as they retrieved clues for the mystery.

Karen Shetler, owner of Mykens Pet Boutique, said having the event and clues located in her store made for a busy two days.

“It’s a great weekend, it’s nice to have this spark during the winter,” she said.

She added being dog-friendly helps people and pets feel more welcome in the store. Over the years Shetler said she recognizes people who come back for the event, but more often recognizes the dogs rather than the owners. The boutique has been part of mystery weekend since 2006, with Shetler even playing characters.

Rachel McDougald, who played the widow, Mrs. Candace Geaherdelli, has been participating in the event for 20 years with her family. Her first year she was pregnant with her son Sean, who also was part of the event as Geaherdelli’s son, Dino.

In her part, McDougald plays a widow who is upset from the commotion of dealing with lawyers surrounding her husband’s death.

One of her favorite parts of the event is the rumors that develop over the weekend.

She said it’s fun to see how the story morphs as the weekend progresses. After people get the clues and have a night to talk over the storyline with others, McDougald said people sometimes come back thinking up “bizarre things and plot twists” that aren’t part of the story.

Last year she remembered a rumor began that suggested her character’s favorite food was Jello and a hint in the mystery. But it wasn’t part of the script and people thought it was a clue, she said.

Overall, McDougald enjoyed interacting with people and giving them clues to the storyline.

“I’m just having fun lying to people,” she said.

 

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