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Mystery Solved!

Honors Hosts a Roman-Themed Murder Mystery Dinner

It was a dark and chilly night last Friday as Honors students and friends gathered at the Maeser building for some murder mystery fun. Each year, the Honors Student Leadership Council (HSLC) hosts a Murder Mystery night around Halloween to bring together our community of scholars to practice some skills of inquiry—a.k.a. sleuthing!

This year’s Murder Mystery theme was the Roman empire, and many students came dressed in costumes ranging from bedsheets to sandals to gold olive leaf headbands. HSLC president Mauricio Morales was arrayed in a white and royal purple emperor outfit—which he said he made himself. “I just got the fabric from Hobby Lobby and glued on the border,” he said. “I ordered my costume from Amazon,” laughed Zach Sutton, another HSLC member decked out in Roman robes. Everyone was impressed by two students’ homemade Roman helmets.

The Maeser building was also decked out for the occasion. A red “carpet” and torches led the way to the entrance, where students entered a veritable Roman palace. The hallways were decorated with ivy falling from light fixtures and railings, and huge white curtains hung from the wainscot ceiling. Roman paintings garnered many of the classrooms.

To begin the evening, everyone gathered in the Coray lecture hall on the third floor to hear the murder story. They learned that Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius had arranged a marriage between his son Commodus and Drusa Clovius, the daughter of Florus and Decima Clovius. Decima owned a large tract of land that Aurelius wanted to add to the empire. But the Clovius family was not as friendly as they seemed.

With a piercing scream, the murder was announced—the victim was Drusa Clovius – the bride to be! The crime scene was at the birthday party of Lucilla, Commodus’s sister. But why, who, and when? Throughout the evening, participants would uncover a secret plot of the Clovius family and discover the true murderer amongst themselves.

After the murder announcement, participants split between seven rooms, with 18 suspects in each room. Each person was assigned a part: Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, suspicious family servants, musicians, the Clovius family, and a (depressed) gladiator or two were only some of the characters. Everyone immersed themselves in their roles, keeping their secrets safe while attempting to expose their fellow suspects.

As suited our Roman theme, attendees enjoyed catered Olive Garden meals and chocolate-drizzled fruit treats. The suspects dined around purple tablecloths as they interrogated each other for clues, but as the evening progressed, they congregated in groups to whisper secrets and point fingers.

Finally, the evening concluded as everyone gathered in the lecture hall again. After a drumroll, HSLC members read the announcement to reveal the true murderer, who until that time had been unknown even to themselves. Gasps filled the room— “I KNEW IT!” several students yelled. The assembly booed for the betrayer to face Roman execution.

Curious about who the murderer was? Or the secret plots and sad backstories? Find a friend who attended the event and ask what they discovered!

The Murder Mystery is always an energetic and successful event, with around 150 attendees each year. Our Roman murder this year will be one for the books. If you loved the event and have ideas for next year’s Murder Mystery, consider applying to join HSLC 2024!

Didn’t get a chance to attend? Here’s a secret: if you enter the Maeser building in the next few days, you can still see the Roman-themed HONRS banner hanging proudly from the ceiling by the office. The Murder Mystery event may be over until next year, but Honors still has its Roman pride!