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THE HALLOWEEN MURDER

 

HOW TO BEGIN

The Assignment Letter from the FBI provides your goals for the investigation of the murder of Lexi Myers: (1) determine the identity of the killer, and (2) uncover the motive for the murder. 

 

To solve the case, be sure to follow the protocols for the investigation provided by the FBI: (1) solve the case by developing the most likely theory that is supported by the evidence, (2) accept statements made by witnesses or other sources of information as true unless they are contradicted by other evidence, and (3) if an inconsistency arises during your investigation, be sure to check it against the other available evidence.

 

A TIMELINE OF EVENTS

A timeline can be constructed through careful investigation of the evidence:

 

September 19

1:00 pm - Carter Lynch is involved in a car accident in Forrest City

 

September 20

04:00 pm - Movie premiere of THE FREAK SHOW at the Lancaster Theater

07:00 pm - Premiere party start time at the St. James Hotel

07:25 pm - Marissa was attacked in her hotel room

08:00 pm - Marissa returned to the premiere party

10:43 pm - St. James Hotel lost power; Mark Oberlin was stuck in an elevator

10:48 pm  - Lexi Myers’ time of death (between 10:45 and 10:50 pm)

10:50 pm - Gretchen Roberts saw someone come out of room 1202 

11:00 pm - Jeremiah Hill left the premiere party

11:07 pm - The body of Lexi Myers was found by Jeremiah Hill

11:12 pm - 911 call was made reporting the discovery of the victim’s body

11:16 pm - Automated call from hotel front desk to all guest rooms re: murder

 

IDENTIFY THE KILLER

 

Suspects. An article in The Forrest City Examiner states that the FBI identified the following suspects in the homicide investigation: Jordan Murphy, Marissa Murphy, actor Christopher Cole, Mark Oberlin, director Joshua Graham, actress Jessie Styles, Carter Lynch, and William Whitehall. Which of these suspects is the killer? 

A Lucky Break. Carter Lynch was involved in a car accident in Forrest City on Sept. 19 at 1:00 pm. Lynch broke his left wrist in the crash and was placed in a cast at Forrest City Hospital before being released later that day. Witness Gretchen Roberts observed someone coming out of the victim’s hotel room (# 1202) at 10:50 pm on the night of the murder.  Since the victim was killed between 10:45 pm and 10:50 pm, this unknown person must have been the killer (any other person coming out of the room at that time would have seen the victim’s body and called 911 or otherwise reported their gruesome discovery). When Roberts was asked by the FBI if she observed any distinguishing features that could help identify the unknown individual, she said no. It is clear from Roberts’ account that she could clearly see the unknown person’s arms and wrists. If Carter Lynch had been the unknown person (and therefore the killer), Roberts would have observed the cast on his wrist. Therefore, Carter Lynch is not the murderer.

 

An Affair to Remember.  Suspect Christopher Cole admitted to the FBI that he was having an affair with his co-star, Jessie Styles. Cole revealed that he and Styles were together in his hotel room for about an hour when he received a call from the front desk advising that a murder had occurred and that Cole should remain in his room until further notice. Since the automated call from the front desk advising guests about the murder was made at 11:16 pm, and Cole stated that he and Styles had been in his room for about an hour before that call, neither Cole nor Styles could have been present in the victim’s hotel room between 10:45 and 10:50 pm to commit the murder.

 

You Don't Have to Take Your Clothes Off to Have a Good Time.  Front desk receptionist Charlotte Killion told the FBI that hotel security caught a couple skinny-dipping in the hotel pool on the 12th floor. When the hotel power went out that night (at 10:43 pm, according to the evidence), the woman screamed, and security was notified. The security officer arrived at the pool two minutes later and found William Whitehall and his wife Jen getting out of the pool and putting their clothes on. Since the victim was killed between 10:45 and 10:50 pm, and William Whitehall was swimming naked in the hotel pool with his wife during that time period, he cannot be the killer.

 

If You Are About to Die in an Elevator, Be Sure to Push the Up Button. Hotel employee Cara Moore encountered suspect Mark Oberlin on the 11th floor of the hotel on the night of the murder. Another hotel employee told Moore that Oberlin had been trapped in a hotel elevator for an extended period of time when the power went out at the hotel. An account in the newspaper revealed that the hotel’s generator restored power to the hotel within seconds, but “one of the hotel’s elevators remained offline for thirty minutes with a single guest stuck inside until a maintenance crew was able to free the trapped passenger.” Since Mark Oberlin was trapped in an elevator from 10:43 pm until roughly thirty minutes later, he could not have been present in the victim’s hotel room to commit the murder.

 

A Suspicious Rendezvous?  On the night of the murder, hotel housekeeper Gabriela Morales saw Marissa Murphy and Taylor Hanes “huddled together” outside a restroom on the 12th floor of the hotel just after Morales heard an announcement over the hotel’s PA system about flooding in the hotel parking garage. Ten minutes later, Morales saw Marissa and Taylor leaving the same restroom. Since the PA announcement was made at 10:45 pm, according to hotel employee Charlotte Killion in her interview with the FBI, the evidence indicates that Marissa Murphy was in and around that 12th-floor restroom from 10:45 until 10:55 pm. She could not have been present in the victim’s hotel room to commit the murder.

 

Just Clowning Around. Hotel employee Charlotte Killion revealed in her FBI interview that she saw a “guy in a clown mask in the hotel lobby” right around the time that the power went out in the hotel on the night of the murder. She also stated that another hotel employee (identified only as Anna) told her that the guy in the clown mask was one of the authors who wrote THE FREAK SHOW novel. Since co-author William Whitehall was skinny-dipping in the hotel pool at that time, Jordan Murphy must have been the “guy in the clown mask” in the hotel lobby. The evidence also reveals that Jordan Murphy had been seen scaring guests with a clown mask at the premiere party earlier in the evening. Since Jordan Murphy was in the hotel lobby when the murder of Lexi Myers occurred, he cannot be the killer.

 

And the Killer is … JOSHUA GRAHAM.  As the only remaining suspect who cannot be ruled out as the murderer, Joshua Graham must be the killer. But why?

 

UNCOVER THE MOTIVE

 

Why did successful Hollywood director Joshua Graham kill Lexi Myers?  A careful study of the evidence reveals his motive for murder. 

 

The victim, Lexi Myers, was a well-known tabloid gossip columnist who commonly engaged in a wide range of dirty tricks and sleazy endeavors.

 

Robert Dayton, the assistant publisher of an infamous tabloid publication called BEHIND THE SCENES, told the FBI that Lexi Myers had called him pitching a new exposé article about “someone closely connected” with THE FREAK SHOW movie. Myers claims that the article would reveal a “shocking secret.”  Christopher Cole admitted to the FBI that he was having a secret affair with his co-star, Jessie Styles, who is married to a high-profile Hollywood producer. When Rachel and Calvin Moore were interviewed by law enforcement, Rachel stated that director Joshua Graham told them that the husband of THE FREAK SHOW’s female lead (Jessie Styles) had been a co-producer on the movie and contributed considerable funds to finance the production. 

 

The Forest City Examiner also revealed that at the premiere party, director Joshua Graham told the assembled guests that an unnamed individual was planning to make a substantial offer to purchase the movie rights to Jordan Murphy and William Whitehall’s upcoming new novel and that Graham hoped to be involved in the film project. Although the evidence does not conclusively identify this individual, it quite possibly was the Hollywood producer husband of actress Jessie Styles, who co-produced THE FREAK SHOW and was one of Graham’s biggest financial backers.

 

If Lexi Myers was going to reveal the secret affair between Christopher Cole and Jessie Styles in a new tabloid gossip article, Joshua Graham had an awful lot to lose. Lexi Myers was a direct threat to Graham’s career and continuing success. Faced with the prospect of a celebrity scandal that might ruin him, Graham chose to eliminate the problem: by killing Lexi Myers with the red tie he stole from Jordan and Marissa Murray’s hotel room.

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DID YOU KNOW?  

Articles and advertisements in the newspaper often contain hints about future murder mysteries. It also includes references to people, places, and events important to Forrest City's continuing storylines.

 

Although each of our murder mysteries can be solved independently without any knowledge of other mysteries, there are dark secrets and hidden connections that tie all of our monthly mysteries together.

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