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Hanging Chad mystery solved

"Frank Lawler and Ann McCurdy of Seattle question Morris Edward Oscar Wittles, aka Meow (played by Jerry Lechner) in their quest to find the murderer in Langley's Mystery Weekend.Photos by John SoltysWas it Col. Mustard with a knife in the billiard room? Mrs. Peacock with a rope in the kitchen? Or Professor Plum with a candlestick in the ballroom?Wait. Wrong mystery. The suspects in last Saturday and Sunday's Langley Mystery Weekend, Much Ado About Kitties, (or The Cat's Revenge) had names that sounded just as intriguing, however: Was the criminal Petunia Bush, Pixie Pompadour, Dimples Chad, Basta Ra, Claudia Catswell, Catsandra al Tigre, Mayor Lloyd Furman?Yes, that familiar Langley personage was also a suspect in the 17th annual event that each year draws a thousand or more amateur sleuths to Langley to collect clues and try to catch the killer of the year's murder victim.We gave out 1,407 ballots, said Yvonne Hall of the Langley South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, which produces Mystery Weekend. Last year there were about 1,000, so it was quite an increase. The ballots cost a buck each, so the sleuths were serious.Among the amateur detectives were Frank Lawler and Ann McCurdy of Seattle, who rented a cabin for their stay on the island. McCurdy was a return visitor, but Lawler was a first-timer.We have many theories, they said. We've talked to eight people so far, but we get conflicting information from everyone.B. J. Muraglia, who came to Langley from Kent, said she collected the clues on Saturday and spent the night going over and over and over them.There's lots of lyin' characters, she said. It was Muraglia's first visit to Mystery Weekend, and she said she would definitely return next year.Likely there will be more returnees after so successful an event this year.The weather was so glorious, said Loretta Martin, Chamber of Commerce director. I felt so guilty praying for sun, since we need the rain so much!But sun was present, even though there was a nip in the air.People clustered in the park, and on the sunny sides of the street, Martin said. They all seemed to be having such a good time.So who did the crime and will he or she serve the time?The victim, Mark Chad, candidate for City Cat Catcher, had been found hanging from his campaign banner in back of the South Whidbey Historical Museum. Just about everyone had a reason to kill him, from Rufus Ratskiller, owner of the Kill Them With Kindness organic pest control company, to Chad's wife Dimples, or Kitty Kitsap, Chad's election opponent, or Morris Edward Oscar Wittles, who is planning a new cathouse in town. And what about the followers of the ancient cat goddess Bast, including Basta Ra, his Orthodox High Priest? Or even Bob, the cat at Violet Fields (who actually received some votes, Martin said).Retired U.S. Marshal and local detective I.B. Fuzz (played by Saranell DeChambeau) revealed all on Sunday afternoon in the solution play, when she gathered the suspects together and confronted the criminal.Who was: Catsandra al Tigre, originally from Dawson City, Alaska. Catsandra learned that Chad had also been in Dawson City, during the time her father, a gold miner, was found dead of overexposure in the Yukon wilderness.Chad had stolen the gold claim, leaving Catsandra's father to die, Martin explained. He then returned to Dawson City and beat up Catsandra's mother to prevent her from challenging the claim. When Catsandra realized who Chad was, she thought 'Aha! This is my chance to get even,' Martin said. She found Chad on a ladder behind the museum, where he was taking down his campaign banner. She snuck up on silent cat's feet and, with catlike speed, slung the loose rope around his neck and pushed him off the rickety old ladder.The ladder was actually from the museum, Martin added.Winnie McLeod said we could use it, but that it was very 'old and rickety,' Martin said. We said that was exactly what we wanted.There were seven names drawn for prizes from those who correctly solved the mystery: From first to last they are Susan Hanada of Mukilteo; Nori O. Herman from Bremerton; Bill Hack, all the way from Arkansas; Christy Jordan of Seattle; Jennifer Barrow from Langley; Victory Barron of Seattle; and Greg Slate of Bothell.First and second prizes were stays at the Eagles Nest and Island Forest Retreat B&Bs, while other winners received candy, sweatshirts, books, a puzzle, even a T-shirt from the Luxor Casino Las Vegas (where Catsandra had been a former showgirl).The mystery solution can be heard on the voice mail of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, 360-221-5676. "

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