5th Annual Culp Professor Reading a Big Hit (no pun…)

0 Commentsby   |  03.25.13  |  Events and Readings


The Culp Professor Reading: Featuring the Who-dun-it Story “Murder by Heartburn”


The Back Story

Every three years the James Culp Distinguished Professor of English  is given a major course reduction and a commission to research a topic of his or her choosing with the goal of publishing a book. The Culp Professor for 2011-14, Dr. Chris Willerton, is researching detective fiction, specifically looking at the Christian values in detective fiction.

In order to share in the process, the Culp Professor presents his research to colleagues and students. Instead of presenting research in a typical, stand-up-and-read-your-research-paper format, on March 5 Dr. Willerton gathered everyone in the Core Classroom. At the stroke of 7:30 p.m. he  took a creative approach with his presentation and performed a murder mystery radio show…

The Show Begins

The comforting sounds of an organ flowing through your old Atwater-Kent radio speakers signify the beginning of radio’s most exciting programs.The voice of Chris Willerton can be heard as the clock strikes midnight. It’s time for another murder mystery.


The evening takes a creepy turn with a sudden discovery.

Robert Boddy has been found dead in the Billiard Room of his New York mansion, slain by an unidentified blunt object. The possible culprits begin with Colonel Mustard (Joe Stephenson), a retired member of the Royal Canadian Air Force has been acting suspicious ever since the inheritance of his mansion. [That’s Mustard above, speaking with Professor Plum (Chris Willerton).] The Professor started a department in a London college called Celto-Pneumatic Studies which recently closed due to non interest.


Now entering the picture (from left to right) The Great Detective, Hercule Clouseau (Yann Opsitch), who arrived in New York and cannot seem to make his way back to Paris; Mrs. Peacock (Jeanine Varner), the widow of at least 2 billionaires who buys up mansions from bankrupt aristocrats; and Miss Scarlett (Shelly Sanders), the niece of the now deceased Mr. Boddy, who owns and operates a martial arts studio.


The play is divided into two acts. In the first act, we are introduced to the plot, the victim, the suspects and the Detective Clouseau. Act One closes with the mystery of Mr. Boddy’s murder still hanging over our heads like tepid pea soup. 


For “intermission”, Dr Willerton takes a moment to present some of his scholarly research in the more typical fashion. [Photo left.] His research ranges from vintage detective movies to current day police novels set in Iceland.

The intermission and Dr. Willerton’s presentation over, we return to the scene of the crime for Act Two and the unmasking of Mr. Boddy’s killer.

One by one, the suspects are cross-examined by Detective Clouseau. We further investigate the motives each suspect had for murdering the late Mr. Boddy, but who is the real killer?


The killer is none other than our dear own Dr. Willerton–I mean, Professor Plum. It turns out Professor Plum was a struggling screenwriter and when he finally created a character that was going to make him rich (Larry the Cable Guy), Robert Boddy stole the character concept out from under him, leaving Professor Plum penniless. Plum was outraged and could no longer stand seeing his creation flaunted on CMT and in advertisements for antacids. And so, the poor professor exacted his revenge on his former, scheming partner.



The case is solved thanks to the effort of the “brilliant” Detective Clouseau and Miss Scarlet, who was really an undercover FBI agent!

I suppose Larry the Cable Guy is the only one laughing now.

I suppose Larry the Cable Guy is the only one laughing now.

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