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Murder/mystery 'haunts' Williamstown eatery

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By Bryan Marshall

Dressed in a sparkling evening gown, Williamstown High School teacher Deana Cummins was sprawled out on the floor of Michael’s on Main, fatally stabbed by an unknown killer.

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The restaurant was locked to avoid anyone from escaping.

From the movie director and plastic surgeon to the action star and makeup artist, everyone was a suspect in the star’s murder.

Fortunately for Cummins, a senior class sponsor, her death was only part of the first-ever Hollywood Scandal murder mystery at Michael’s on Main.

Once the star’s body was removed from the scene on a gurney and put in a hearse outside by Dennis Stanley, Cummins’ father and owner of Elliston-Stanley Funeral Home, the game began.

“It was very interesting being the one killed,” Cummins said. “It was very hard to remain serious. I have never seen my father actually get a body from a hospital or home so I thought it was neat seeing how carefully he rolled me on the sheet and then carried me to the cot.”

The murder mystery was the brainchild of three Michael’s on Main employees and Williamstown High School seniors — John Siedenberg, Anthony Sarcione and Ashlee Holt — who thought it would be a great way to get the senior class together for an evening of food and fun.

About 30 of the class’s 45 seniors participated in the event.

“I was really nervous about it because we weren’t sure how it was going to go off since it was the first one,” Siedenberg said. “But, it went really well. I think everybody enjoyed themselves. I enjoyed myself.”

The seniors, some dressed in their roles for the night, were divided into five teams as they tried to gain clues by playing Simon Says and answering movie trivia.

“The games we played to get the clues was the fun part because you got to look stupid in front of your peers and not have to worry about it because everyone else was doing it,” said Siedenberg, who dressed up as the Phantom of the Opera to portray his villain character. “We actually knew who the killer was. The hard part was actually keeping the other teams from sneaking in and stealing information.”

Between discussions about the clues they had received, several students reenacted scenes either from notable cinematic classics like Titanic or from a movie within the game dealing with characters named The Ice Breaker and the Fire Starter.

With clues in hand and heads put together, each team created a synopsis of what they believed happened the night that ended in the star’s murder, including the identity of the killer.

Three teams were sure it was the editor while the other two teams had their fingers pointed at the publicist.

When the twists and turns of the true facts of the case were finally revealed, the editor, portrayed by Ashlee Holt, was revealed as the murderer and placed in plastic handcuffs.

“I was kind of shocked when I was the murderer,” she said. “Our team did not have one clue about the editor being the murderer. We didn’t think that at all. We thought it was somebody different.”

Cummins, who came back from the dead to try to help her team solve the mystery of her death, said she also was in the dark about the identity of the murderer.

“The murderer was in my group, but we did not receive one clue about her, so everyone in my group thought it was someone else,” she said.

Many agreed that the experience of the night was positive for the seniors.

“It was good because we don’t have a lot of senior things together,” Holt said. “So, to see everybody there and participating and really dressing up was a good feeling.”

Cummins said she hopes that future senior classes decide to continue the tradition this year’s senior started.

“The best part of the night was seeing the senior class bond outside of the classroom,” she said. “They are a great group of students and this will be a night they will continue to remember long after graduation.”