The Body in the Billiard Room

By Lisa Youngblood and Gillian Wiseman, Waco-McLennan County Library.


Mysteries, Forensic Evidence, Investigation.

Intended Audience

Ages 12 to 16; 10 to 20 attendees.

Program Duration

1 hour.


Make copies of Investigation Sheets 1 and 2 for all attendees.

Make posters representing each of the four pieces of forensic evidence. Ask co-workers to supply some of the evidence as described below. Examples of these posters are here -- Poster #1, #2, #3, #4.

Draw a diagram of a billiard room with a door that leads into a hall and a door that leads to the back garden. In the room should be a billiard table, a few chairs and a rack for pool cues. Draw an outline of a body near the pool table. Use colored Xs to denote where forensic evidence was found. The fingerprint is on a pool cue in the rack. The lip print is on a glass that was dropped on the other side of the pool table. The handwriting is on a note in the victim’s pocket. An outline of victim’s body is of course, on the diagram. Use the example diagram included in this section as a model.

Have four employees or four program attendees play the parts of the suspects. Give each an information sheet for his or her character. Include the specific suspect information found on the Investigation sheet side 1 and on the “Truth Sheet. “

Program Description

This role-playing program allows attendees to pretend to be investigators in a murder case. Investigators interrogate witnesses, analyze forensic evidence and solve the crime. Sides 1 and 2 of the Investigation Sheet and the Truth Sheet provide background to the mystery. Here is a summary of the events in the script: A billiards player was murdered on the night of a ball. His body was found the next morning in the mansion’s Billiard Room. Investigators found four clues: a fingerprint on a pool cue, a lip-print on a glass, a note in Nathan’s (the victim) pocket, and the condition of his body when discovered.

Let the mystery begin!

Begin the program by inviting attendees to solve a murder! Hand out the investigation sheets. Explain quickly what happened the night of the murder. This information is on the investigation sheet under “the crime” and “the victim.”

Show the diagram of the scene of the crime.

Explain then that forensic science is based on the assumption that a culprit always leaves something behind. Explain the four pieces of evidence and let the attendees know that they will have a chance to look at them later.

Explain what a suspect is. Introduce the four individuals who are role-playing the suspects. Describe their opportunities and motives as explained in the Investigation Sheet. The participants will have a chance to ask questions of the suspects. The actors will answer with information from their individual information sheets.

Invite the attendees to look at ALL the evidence. Attendees can use the graphic organizer on the Forensic Evidence sheet to mark off who could have left each clue. When all attendees have seen all the evidence, let them help solve the crime by talking out the clues. Note: Ellen Smart is the culprit.

Young Adult Resources

  • Body Bags (Body of Evidence Series) by Christopher Golden.
  • Bone Detectives: How Forensic Anthropologists Solve Crimes and Uncover Mysteries of the Dead by Donna Jackson.
  • Cyber Crimes by Gina De Angelis.
  • The Dark Corridor by Jay Bennet.
  • The Dark and Deadly Pool by Joan Lowery Nixon.
  • Forensic Science: Evidence, Clues, and Investigation by Andrea Campbell.
  • Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How Forensic Science Helped SolveThem by David Owens.
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan.
  • The Weekend was Murder! By Joan Lowery Nixon.
  • The Weirdo by Theodore Taylor.

Professional Resources

  • Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation, 5th edition by Charles O’Hara.
  • Threads of Evidence: Using Forensic Science to Solve Crimes by Herman Silverstein.
  • Writing the Modern Mystery by Barbara Norville.
  • The Young Detective’s Handbook by William Vivian Butler.

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Page last modified: February 3, 2012