D.I.Y. Murder Mystery Escape Game (Printable!)

 In Atlanta, Silver Spring, Uncategorized

Here, you will have all of the information, supplies, and story-line you will need to create your very own escape room at home! And best of all, you can do it all for right around $15 or less.

This is great for kid’s or adult’s birthday parties, house parties, or just to surprise your roommates with an obstacle while they’re going to the kitchen for a snack!

We have tested this DIY escape game on our friends, and they loved it. We know you will have fun with this, enjoy!


  • 5 Digit word lock (The lock must spell “CHRIS”. Scroll Down for perfect locks for this project you can purchase online) OR a Phone, computer, or tablet with a customizable passcode set (You should be able to set “CHRIS” as the password
  • Any box, briefcase or bag that can fit your word lock
  • A coat, wallet, or article of clothing with a pocket
  • ‘Evidence’ or props, ie. Black gloves/Mask/plastic knife/etc
  • Printer (scroll down to view/print the clues)
  • Scissors
  • A timer


  • Fake Blood
  • Laminator (for super-sleek clues)
  • Picture Frame, mail envelope, binder, or anything else around the house you can conceal clues in plain sight
  • Miscellaneous decor and props

Keep scrolling down to view step-by-step instructions.

The Story-Line

Murder Mystery at Home

It’s been all over the news. There was a brutal stabbing with no evidence other than a police sketch based on the only witness’ description of the perp. You are the town’s newest detective, and this is your very first solo-case. You have a hunch as to who the escaped murderer is, only thing is you don’t have any evidence to back that claim up… yet. Use your sleuth and prowess to collect definitive proof he’s your guy and get out of there before he gets home.

Hurry! You only have 20 minutes before he discovers you snooping in his things and makes you his next victim.

Know your game inside and out before you present:


Print that off the pdf version of this (below) so you can guide your participants easily! Before you guide your room-participants, go through and solve all of the puzzles yourself. Game Guiding 101 is to know exactly what your players should be doing.

Printable PDF Clues

  1. newspaper
  2. secretmessage
  3. winnerplaque
  4. businesscards
  5. gamemasterscheatsheet

How they work

Tripp’s Travels Puzzle

DIY-ESCAPE-ROOM-BUSINESSCARD#1secret message escape room clue

This is the final puzzle of your at-home escape room. Players will uncover the message (top right) once they unlock the only lock, and will retrieve the business cards from one of your hiding spots (jacket pocket or wallet).

You notice all of the A’s in blue, don’t you? There are 26 symbols on this page that represent the alphabet, and the ‘A’ is the only symbol in blue. Once they figure that out, they can use the “tripp’s travels” business card to assign a letter to each symbol.

This clue is about spotting the details. The symbols are small so your players will need to keep a sharp eye. You can also add in a magnifying glass to really make your players feel like old school detectives! Solve this puzzle for yourself so you have a thorough understanding of exactly how the puzzle works.

Clues to give for this puzzle

  • “Count how many symbols you see on Tripp’s Travels business card!”

and if they still don’t get it…

  • All of the A’s are in Blue…”

Uncovering the name of a murderer


Your players find this newspaper with a police sketch of the guy. The players need to spot the similarities between “Chris” from one of the business cards and the dude in the police sketch… Also, the name is the only thing scratched out on the winner’s plaque so this tells the players they need to find this piece of information. Ends in “den”… have we seen a name similar to that on any of the clues? The player figures out the scratched out name says “Chris” and that’s the code for you lock!

Clues to give for this puzzle

  • “Hmm, what important piece of information is being covered up?”

and if they need some extra help…

  • “You need a 5 digit code for that lock.”

The red-herrings

You will see 3 additional business cards that are just to throw your players off a little and add in some distractions.

Make sure you have the right lock

That ah-hah moment is why we love escape rooms so much. Nothing beats that feeling of popping a lock open after you spend time and energy uncovering the code. Unsurprisingly, that is why including a lock is a crucial step in your DIY escape room at home! Always familiarize yourself and most importantly your participants with their lock BEFORE the game begins. We don’t want any confusion with the props, just fun with ease throughout the experience!

The first lock would be my first pick because there are endless possibilities as to what your code can be. Not to mention, it is delivered straight to you. You can use this digital lock for any future project without limitation. I have included a couple of options with a lower price and different lock types that will still be a fit for this project. The first option is a digital lock, and the second two are rotating padlocks:

*Designers Choice – $16 – free shipping with Amazon Prime


$10 – free shipping – Walmart


$11 – free shipping with Amazon Prime


If You Can’t get the lock:

If you can’t get a hold of these items, no worries! You can also use a phone, computer, or tablet that has the option to set a word as the passcode. Be sure to tell your player(s) if the computer is a part of the game!

Step-by-step Build-out

Step 1:

Study your game and solve the clues yourself. It will make it much easier to guide your participants and give clues if you know what they should be doing each moment of the game.

Step 2:

Locate a space you can use to set up the clues for your escape room. You don’t want to have too many items that are not a part of the game, as this can distract your players too much. Make sure you let them know the area where all of their clues be found, and what part of the room to avoid. A couple of good options on where to set it up would be:

  • Clear up the dining table and hang your locked bags on the chairs and scatter your clues around the table. I did this and hid the plaque in a mail envelope and that fit well here!
  • Clear a desk area out. Hide the clues in the desk drawers, hang props on the back of the chair, hide your locked box under the desk.
  • Use a dresser. Clear out any items you don’t want to include in the game. Fill the drawers with your clues and props.
  • Use your bed. Hide things in pillowcases, and under blankets. Change the storyline before the game to say you broke into the suspect’s room!

Step 3:

Use the pdf files above to print out your clues. Cut them neatly and laminate them for an extra wow factor!

Step 4:

Take your jacket or wallet and hide the business cards inside the pockets and incorporate it into your escape space. Next, hide the winner’s plaque and news article elsewhere in your set up. Get creative! Make sure they can find these items before they open up the locked box.

Step 5:

Collect your props you want to use as your crime evidence (plastic knife, black gloves, hat, etc). Hide these and the secret message inside of your locked bag or box and secure the lock. If using the phone/tablet/computer option, set up your device so they can see the secret message (the one with the message to be decoded) upon unlocking the device. You can leave the file open or set it as the background. Hide the various props around your set up.

Step 6:

You’re ready! All that is left to do is brief your players. Read them the storyline and tell them they have 3 clues. Show them what areas of the room are included in the game, and what areas are not. Consider having your players dress like detectives and add in some mystery music for some extra fun!

Don’t forget, your players must exit the room WITH the evidence before time runs out to win! Choose an exit door for your players.

Start the timer! You’re ready to begin.

The more attention to detail you add to the game, the more realistic it will feel for your players. Take your time and make thigs your own!

Use this post as inspiration to design your very own escape game! Also, check out our 10 hacks to designing an escape room game, 18 mind-bending puzzles, and clues and top 10 escape room themes for even more inspiration.


Did you recreate this game or have any questions? To the comments!!

We would love to hear from you.


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Showing 20 comments
  • Okie

    Is it just me or is there a typo in the 6th word of your secret message? The symbols point to “NMW” but I believe you meant “NOW” (you used the wrong symbol for the second letter)

    • Viola Pedigo

      Thanks for the heads up! Looking into that now

      • Jennifer Valdez

        Yeah, I just printed and solved it and the word is NMW. I guess it is just a typo.

      • Tee

        I’m confused on the puzzle part of the game. What does it translate to? How do I figure it out?

        • Viola Pedigo

          Use the business card to decode the sheet. You’ll see 27 letters around the rim, the symbol that represents ‘A’ is in red (just like all of the other a’s on the business card). From there you can decode the sheet. I recommend working through the game yourself before you run it so you understand what to do step-by-step!

  • Dynasty

    When exactly do I tell them the 3 clues

    • Viola Pedigo

      When they ask for them. Give them a nudge in the right direction so they can solve the puzzle on their own! Tell them of their 3 clues before the game begins

  • Roxana

    How many players do you let in the room at a time? Thanks!

    • Viola Pedigo

      I have tried it with 1-3 players, and I found that 1-2 is best! For large groups, take turns with the game and write down everyone’s time to see who can escape the fastest

  • Kris

    Roughly how long does this escape room take to complete?

    • Viola Pedigo

      I have tested it a few times and seen it done in 10 minutes all the way to not finishing within the 20 min time limit. It is best for 1-2 players to tackle with a 20 minute time limit (before the murderer gets home and discovers you’re snooping!).

      Feel free to test this with different friends and family members and set a time limit you feel is fair – or you could even time how long it takes the escapee to win without any time limit. This could be cool for larger groups where the parties can take turns playing the game and you all can keep track of who escapes the fastest

      Hope this helps!

  • Rosa Pasquale

    Hi Viola, Just want to give you a big THANK YOU! We tried the Murder Mystery challenge at our Fri night youth last night. 20 kids years 6-8 and 30 kids years 9-12. They chose their own groups of between 4 to 7 with one leader per group.

    We set up 5 rooms in the church and added a cryptic puzzle to start so each group had to identify which room was theirs.

    We offered them a prize for their secrecy because we did it in two stages: younger kids before supper and older kids after.

    The kids had a lot of fun. Will recommend your site to others with such a large group.

    • Viola Pedigo

      Rosa! SO glad you guys were able to make use of the room for your youth group. That is so cool to hear and it definitely brought a smile to my face! Thanks for sharing about your experience 🙂

  • Tarun Puri

    Thank you so much. My family used to be eating pizza and watching the phone but then I tried this then.. we were back together. For example instead when my son comes back from school he all was flings his backpack on the ground and gets on his switch but no he is asking to play a board game. This is life changing 5 stars

    • Viola Pedigo

      I am so happy to hear that! Thank you so much for leaving your feedback. It really means so much to me to see people having a good time with my game!

  • Bruno Carlos

    I could translate Brazil into Portuguese.

    Failure to decipher the code.


    • Viola Pedigo

      Thanks for reaching out. I’ll try my best to translate and see what I can send you!

  • Rebecca

    Where do I print this out? Looks great.

    • Viola Pedigo

      You can print it out at any printer you have access to. If you don’t have one, try visiting somewhere like a library, UPS, FedEx, or minuteman printing location. You can print each sheet for less than a few bucks. You can also get them laminated! Hope this helps

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