Aaron Rasmussen Reveals How He Solved the Murder of Anna Talley at CrimeCon 2017

So, it’s been six weeks and I’m still scratching my head over the murder mystery that we all tackled at CrimeCon. With varying degrees of success, we investigated a crime scene, collected all the information we could, and confused several hotel staffers in our efforts to find the person who killed Dr. Anna Talley.

But Aaron Rasmussen was the first one who solved the mystery that stumped some of the most experienced amateur sleuths in the room.

When we announced that Aaron had solved the mystery and would receive two Gold VIP passes to CrimeCon 2018, the most frequently rage-tweeted question I received was “How in the world??” Which was exactly what I said, myself. I even attended CrimeCon with a friend who worked in the justice system for nearly a decade, and we couldn’t figure it out.

So I’m happy to bring you this exclusive interview with Aaron so we can all get answers to that very question.

CCI: What was your initial impression of the experience when you walked through the crime scene?

It was fun to have a special mystery to solve at CrimeCon. I loved that when we asked how we were supposed to submit our guess for the murderer the person ushering us through said, “If you figure it out, you will just know.” I liked the staging of the room and all the little details added, like Anna’s bracelet sitting on the nightstand. Everything could have been a clue, but, as I discovered, not everything was!

CCI: Enough small talk -- how'd you solve it?  

I figured out right away that Margo Short was a complete psychopath, as evidenced by the fact that she worked at Time Warner, the only place someone like that would be happy. Kidding aside, my method was to just start eliminating the suspects based on their alibis.

There were a few suspects that clearly couldn’t have committed murder, like the husband and nanny, because they were in a different state. So I was able to eliminate them fairly quickly. That helped me not overthink certain clues or go down any rabbit holes.

As we got a few more clues as CrimeCon wore on, many of the suspects could be eliminated based on their whereabouts and timing, such as when Ruth, the technician whose badge was at the scene, ordered room service at the same time the murder occurred.

CCI: What was your “Aha!” moment or the piece of evidence that clinched it for you?

I suspected Margo Short committed the murder, but I was certain I was correct when we got the manila envelope of evidence that showed she suffered sleeping issues and had to take medication. I noticed that Harold, the original killer, had the same issue, which made it obvious she was the copycat killer, especially since she had no other alibi, like the other suspects that I had struck from my list.

CCI: What was the most confusing piece of evidence (or most confusing aspect of the game/process overall)?

I was most confused by the feather left at the crime scene. I joked to my friend that Anna was having an affair with Ruth Hixon, the technician. I noticed that someone else had the same thought in one of the CrimeCon emails! I also wondered if the feather had something to do with the interior decorator since it wasn’t far from her business card. It was a great red herring that spun some wheels. I also wasn’t 100 percent on if Anna’s editor could have done it. He actually did, if I remember correctly, have a brief window of opportunity in his schedule, but I eventually just eliminated him because the evidence against Margo was much stronger.

CCI: Did you work with anyone else to figure it out?

I worked with my friend, who came with me to CrimeCon, but we had differing opinions on who the killer was when we only had a few possible suspects left. Also, she wanted to wait to see if her theory would be better proved through more evidence on Sunday, which never came. I didn’t want to wait that long, and I’m glad I didn’t!

CCI: Do you have any funny/sad/scary stories from your investigation? My sources report that a few people got some shade for knocking on the wrong hotel doors.

Luckily, we figured out the right door to go to, but we did worry and joked with another person who arrived after us but before we rang the buzzer. I did like coming up with strange theories with my friend like Ruth and Anne were having an affair and liked feather play. Overall, going over the clues and finding new evidence and connections was a fun way to unwind after a long day at CrimeCon.

Informant’s note: It was at this point I realized we’ll be seeing Aaron at every CrimeCon until the end of the world. And that is awesome.

CCI: How did you have TIME to solve it? Did you do it in the timeslot where lunch should’ve been?

I was fairly certain I knew who the killer was after reading the papers slid under our door on the second day, but I didn’t have the time to send in my response. By the time I compiled my answers I figured somebody else must have beat me to it, because to me it was obvious who did it. My only hope was that everyone else was too busy to take time to work out the answer and send it in. I saw some people the last morning going over the evidence and that gave me some hope.


CCI: What was your favorite/the best part of the game?

I loved when we had to figure out things beyond the crime scene walk-through. Like the trick to obtain the password to gain access to the website with the list of suspects, looking for the mystery hotel room door, and when we had new clues delivered to our room and waiting for us when we woke up (that threw off my friend’s game, because she wanted to wait to see if we got more clues the second night or third morning). I love puzzles, and putting together all the clues and moving pieces was great!

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If you're up for the challenge, we may bring the murder mystery game back for CrimeCon 2018. But that's not the best part: early-bird registration prices are still in effect! Early registration gets you the best prices and nearly a year of anticipation until we convene in Nashville, TN May 4-6 to bust some crime and learn more about the cases that keep us awake at night. Like the murderer lingering on your patio. At this very moment.

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