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Murder in the library, with a rope...

How do you get a bunch of teenagers to spend their Friday night at the library?

First, you offer them pizza, of course — and then you tell them they get to solve a crime.

At least that was the plan of Kathleen Wilson, the young people’s librarian at the Port Orchard Library, for last Friday night — which by no coincidence was also Friday the 13th.

“We thought it would be neat to have it then,” Wilson said, explaining that this was the second mystery night the library hosted, which includes setting up a mock homicide scene sprinkled with clues, then challenging participants to identify the murderer from several suspects.

“The first (event) was so successful, now all the libraries are doing it,” said Brittany Fleming, a sophomore at South Kitsap High School and a member of the library’s Teen Advisory Group (TAG), who talked as she practiced for her role as a murder suspect in “Death Gets a Red Card,” a play of sorts that pretends the high school’s star soccer player has been found strangled.

Fleming, along with fellow SKHS sophomore and TAG member Samantha Mohan, said the idea for the “Who-Dun-It” night came to life when the group of teens were discussing what types of things would be fun to do at the library.

Last year, about 30 showed up for the first mystery night, Wilson said, explaining that it was held only at her library and paid for by the Friends of the Port Orchard Library. This year, about two dozen kids came to test their detective chops at the second event, which was funded by the Kitsap Regional Foundation for all the branches.

Before the amateur investigators arrived, Wilson, Fleming and Mohan carefully laid out the evidence, following the instructions provided in the murder “kit,” which explained exactly what to leave hidden at each scene, and what each suspect should reveal to the audience.

“It’s really fun,” said Wilson, laughing as she admitted she bought a doughnut at a nearby bakery just so she could put in on the fake police chief’s desk. “I even took a bite out of it.”

Once the scenes were complete and the detectives arrived, they were each given a notebook and told to carefully inspect all three areas — where the body was found, the victim’s room, and the police headquarters, which included an impounded car outside that was believed to be the murderer’s.

After inspecting all the evidence, the participants listened to the suspects, which included the victim’s girlfriend, brother and coach, before revealing their solution to the crime.

Several participants — nearly half — correctly identified the murderer, so Wilson and the other judges decided the winner based on how many clues each teen gathered, and how quickly they completed their solutions.

Both the first to turn in her answer and the eventual winner was Sarah Brown, who received a $20 movie theater gift certificate.

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