When Loudonville couple Steven and Diane O'Connor participate in fundraisers, there is usually bloodshed.
The two help area nonprofit organizations by putting on murder mysteries, complete with elements any avid Clue gamer would recognize: a murderer, a motive and a weapon. As for who done it, that is up to the audience to discover.
For nearly 20 years, O'Connor's Murder by Design has been hosting murder mysteries at local not-for-profit charity organization headquarters, helping create a fun fundraising event that community members would be excited about participating in. Since the company began, it has helped local organizations raise more than $200,000, according to Steven O'Connor.
Murder by Design supplies the actors and actresses, props, clues and story, and attendees supply the funds that go to the charitable organization.
Steven O'Connor, who co-owns Murder by Design, with his wife, Diane, said the idea to create the company was born after the two went to a murder mystery event, which they had to pay to attend.
It was interesting, he said. "But I remember Diane said, 'We can do better than this!'"
O'Connor said he and his wife were confident they could create a better murder mystery based on their professional backgrounds: He has experience in criminal science and she has forensics experience through her job as a nurse.
So, in 1989, the couple wrote their first murder mystery for a fundraiser at the Pruyn House, in Colonie. They brought in the actors, who were mostly friends from community theater, and Diane sewed most of the costumes herself. On March 11, 1989, they acted out "Murder at the Pruyn."
The mystery, O'Connor said, was based on the historical facts surrounding the Pruyn House, including real characters, such as Casparus Pruyn and President Chester Arthur, who, according to O'Connor, had lived in Colonie.