Hundreds scour Langley for mystery weekend

Mischka Burr

Another year, another faux murder was solved at the 32nd Langley Mystery Weekend.

Joe Curr, a running character in the roleplaying version of the board game Clue, was revealed to be Sir Laurence Burton’s murderer Sunday night. He had used a stage dagger to do in Burton, an actor who created Hare Haven as a sanctuary for rabbits in Langley. His reason: Curr was “a rabbit lover” and he suspected Burton of selling the bunnies to restaurant chain Hausenpfeffer Incorporated. A heated confrontation led Curr to commit murder in McLeod Alley.

This was all fake, of course, and no one was actually harmed because of Langley’s real-life booming bunny population. But the mystery’s allure proved intoxicating for many. Some were first-time sleuths, others annual experts and a few had been one-time character actors.

“It brings the entire community together and in town to Langley,” said Kassy Burr, who was one of the mystery’s actors almost a decade ago, Saturday afternoon.

“We know people, so we can talk to them and have fun,” she said of having a possible advantage as a former character-turned-sleuth.

Burr led a troop of tots donning bunny ears and chanting “Free the bunnies! Free the bunnies! Free the bunnies!” A cool, clear day proved a boon to the event’s ranks. An official number of at least 1,177 people, based on the number of tickets sold, swarmed Langley’s streets and shops in search of clues of who did the dastardly deed. One ticket was one answer sheet, and often several people played together on one sheet, Langley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michaleen McGarry said.

“A lot of people came in groups, and then some people came in alone,” she said.

McGarry said the chamber nearly sold out of the tickets they printed based on past years’ attendance in the early afternoon Saturday. By 1:30 p.m. that day, only a couple of the commemorative T-shirts made by Front Row Creative, a graphic design and screenprinter across the street, for the event remained. Eventually, all of the 2016 apparel and even the leftover 2015 apparel was sold.

A bit of real-life drama briefly detracted from the opening ceremony of sorts, the coroner’s report. Two people required medical attention near Langley Park. One of those was the wife of the story’s coroner, which led to Langley Mystery Weekend author Loretta Martin stepping in and pulling double duty as both Officer Trainee Polly Graph and Coroner Gus Gruesome.

During the report, people huddled together to hear Martin orate the story and set people on their path. Unlike other events held at the park, people were mostly silent, hanging on Martin’s every word. They didn’t want to miss a thing, leading some to record her report on video and audio. One woman was taking diligent notes.

After inspecting the crime scene near In the Country on First Street, people searched out clues in more than 30 stores. Some were waylaid by the scents of food around town. A long line awaited anyone hoping for a pie from Village Pizzeria, and most of the restaurants in town hummed with hungry visitors.

Seeing an opportunity, one intrepid Girl Scout set up on a sidewalk corner to sell the infamous cookies of the Thin Mint, Tagalong, Samoa, Savannah Smile and Trefoil varieties. Taryn Henny of Troop 42183 only peddled the indulgent sweets a half hour before selling two dozen boxes. She and her troop had participated in the mystery as sleuths the year before as part of their effort to earn the Detective Badge. Ben Watanabe / The Record | Taryn Henny and mom Tonya sell Girl Scout cookies during Langley Mystery Weekend.

Perhaps the Girl Scouts can be tasked with discovering who released a bunch of chickens downtown Sunday. McGarry said there was a “gang” of chickens running around when she and others arrived Sunday, and were still there Monday.

“You could hear them cock-a-doodle-dooing in the background,” she laughed.

“We’d really like whoever brought them to take them back.”

With all of that information in hand, they hoped they had deciphered a motive and discovered the murderer before turning in their answers.

All returned submissions were entered into a raffle, and correct submissions were entered into the grand prize raffle. Grand prize winners were Sophie Morrell, Corinna Edens and Josh Tocheny. Twenty-three other prizes were handed out. The character that received the most submissions was Burr, McGarry said.