“Zoo Dun It?” Murder Mystery

 Anthroplogy, Zoo Dun It

Graduate students Taylor Remley (left) and Katie East work on their ‘crime scene’ at the Central Florida Zoo.

Could you solve a murder mystery?  The UCF department of Anthropology recently teamed up with the Central Florida Zoo and Crimeline.org to help guests try!  On November 15, the second annual Zoo Dun It safari murder mystery dinner brought guests from across the Central Florida community together for a night of fun and mystery.

Dinner and drinks were provided for approximately 300 participants while they walked around the zoo, interacting with local county CSI teams by asking questions about the scenes and trying to solve the crime.  The event serves as a fundraiser for the Central Florida Crimeline, an anonymous tipster hotline, and it also gives members of the community an opportunity to solve a ‘murder’ and learn about crime scene investigation from professionals.

Zoo Dun It features several “active” crime scenes located in different areas of the zoo.  Dr. J. Marla Toyne, assistant professor in the department of Anthropology, and two of her graduate students were invited to volunteer.  They worked with Lake County CSI, to set up one of the six ‘crime scenes’.  Participants at the zoo were told that there was a Crimeline tip call about an incident at the zoo. They were told that TJ the rhino was loose, but when the ‘police’ showed up they found a ‘murder’ scene instead.

Toyne and her graduate students participated by being a red herring to distract the investigation. They had a staged, clandestine human burial that had nothing to do with the mystery crime.

“My graduate students were a fundamental part of the preparation and interaction with the guests,” Toyne said. “Both had taken ANG6821 – Forensic Archaeological Field Methods course with me last year at UCF and I knew they would be excellent and competent ‘accomplices’.”

Toyne continued to say that they enjoyed meeting the participating law enforcement teams and seeing such interest from the public in their line of work.  Many people asked great questions, but they noticed that some participants showed an influence from popular CSI shows from TV.  In addition to fundraising, and providing a fun evening, one of the goals of this event is to show people the real truth to crime scene investigation and that it isn’t exactly as it appears on TV.

Comments are closed.