The body of a white female is found stabbed to death in her office on Thursday evening, along with a large hunting knife, packages of marijuana and a steamy love note.
Her grief-stricken husband, who found her body, is at the scene, as well as her angry boss and owner of International Import/Export Inc., the boss's estranged wife, a shadowy character from Miami and his friend the janitor with blood on his fingers from an "injury."
The call goes out, and members of the Conyers Police Department Citizens' Academy arrive at the crime scene. Their job - figure out who committed the murder, using the evidence they find and the interviews they conduct.
This exercise was part of the 8-week CDP Citizens' Academy, which shows ordinary Conyers residents the work that Conyers police officers and detectives do on a daily basis.
Upon arriving at the scene, held at at the Devon Office Suites, owned by Tim Krisher, participants were briefed on the situation and split up into two teams.
Each team had a chance to examine and document the murder scene, following protocols such as logging anyone who entered the scene and photographing, measuring and logging any evidence they found.
The teams then split up into smaller groups to interview the suspects 5 minutes at a time. At the end of the evening, the teams reassembled to discuss their findings, sometimes in loud, impassioned debates, and turned in their conclusions.
Bette Johnson said she would have liked to have more of the information that officers would have access to in a real crime scene investigation, such as DNA evidence on the murder weapon and the suspect.
"We've got a lot of ideas, but we're going to find out how wrong we were," said participant Phil Gandy. "But we don't have to do this well. That's why we have the police."
The participants who guessed the correct suspect and story celebrated when it was revealed the janitor carried out the stabbing at the orders of his friend from Miami, who was coordinating a marijuana shipping operation. The victim had been part of that operation and had demanded more money for her role. The killers knew of her affair and the marital strife and used it as a cover for the murder.
Academy co-director Officer Thomas Owen said he and Officer Debbie Krisher, the other director of the Academy, had come up with the script while their families were on vacation together in Honduras.
"I thought they did very well," said Krisher. "I was surprised that they did not do was think of things they saw on TV. They worked with what they had."
Here are a few snapshots from the evening.