Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Watch for Clues in Reitz Home Mystery Event

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Watch for Clues in Reitz Home Mystery Event

Article excerpt

Was he guilty of a heinous murder, or was he an aggrieved widower wrongly convicted in his wife's death, whose conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court, and whose second trial ended in a hung jury, who chose to take his own life rather than face a third trial? As the last scene closes on "Thoroughly Murdered Millie," starring Larry Miller as George Woods in a memorable jailhouse death scene, that is the question participants in the Reitz Home Museum's 21st annual Mystery Dinner event will be charged with answering Saturday evening.

The details of the murder, which occurred in Evansville on a hot night in the summer of 1877, make up the body of the one-act/seven- scene play written and directed by Kelley Coures with the help of Peggy Newton, research assistant at Willard Library.

No one was ever convicted in that grisly murder, Coures said. The case died with Woods, so Saturday night's participants will be charged with solving a very cold case.

The winning entry will be determined not by whom a participant believes did the crime, but on how convincing the argument is for fingering any one of several likely suspects.

"Thoroughly Murdered Millie" marks Coures' fifth foray into what has become his signature style of storytelling that employs explicit details of actual historical events - murders - in Evansville's history, which he draws from old newspaper articles, trial transcripts and related public documents.

The clues are in the script, Coures said, adding that "it is very challenging to pull all that information together and distill it into a one-act play with seven scenes" and get all the important information out there.

"Every character in this play actually played a role in this historical crime and subsequent investigation," he said.

Every quote is pulled directly from historical accounts, with only occasional flourishes added by Coures to embellish some otherwise dry testimony and elicit the occasional laugh from the audience.

These annual mystery dinners have become a highly successful fundraising project for the Reitz Home, said museum director Matt Rowe, noting last year's event netted the museum $29,000, "which makes this a major fundraiser for us. …

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