“Escape the Fright” at the Criminal Justice Association’s Escape Room

Maddie Genoways, News Writer

The Wayne State College Criminal Justice Association (CJA) is currently sponsoring a campus escape room at the Crime Scene Investigation facility in collaboration with Wayne Escapes. 

The room, titled “Escape the Fright,” is based off of the 2021 horror film, “The Black Phone,” in which a young boy is kidnapped and uses a strange phone to communicate with the past victims of his masked captor, the Grabber. Groups of three to six participants assume the roles of the Grabber’s most recent prisoners, and must use the clues left behind by his other victims in order to escape before the 45 minutes is up. 

Rhegan Jensen, president of CJA, along with CJA Vice-President Stuart Hasemann and professors Rachel Kunz and Tara Wiles, spent two weeks transforming the Criminal Justice Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) facility into a fully-functional attraction. On Oct. 2, CJA celebrated the room’s grand opening with a viewing of “The Black Phone.” 

In order to create a more professional room, the team also enlisted the help of Ryan Zoucha, owner and operator of Wayne Escapes.  

“The collab started because I’m pretty good friends with [Zoucha],” Jensen said. “I figured with his help, we could make the room more challenging.”  

With Zoucha’s help, CJA was able to turn the props used for demo crime scene investigations into clues for escape. 

CJA also benefited from the assistance of Criminal Justice lecturer Tara Wiles, whose expertise with crime scene investigation blended well with Zoucha’s experience.  

Having someone who was able to provide insight into where people get stuck and what type of puzzles would work was very helpful,” Wiles said. “I had never been to an escape room before, so it was interesting to build one in a facility made for crime scene investigations.” 

While most escape rooms are single room attractions, CJA made use of every room in the CSI facility, so participants must search for clues and solve puzzles throughout the entire house.  

“The escape room is set up a lot like the crime scenes we create here,” Wiles said. “You need to investigate every room and find clues left behind by the victims.” 

It is $60 to reserve a time slot for the whole group attempting the escape room. The proceeds from the room will help to support CJA and its students.  

“The goal of hosting this escape room is to raise money and allow students to have some fun during spooky season,” Jensen said. “We plan to use the money we raise to send some of our club members on field trips so they can learn more about different professions in the criminal justice field.” 

The first room opened officially on Oct. 3, and several groups have already attempted to escape The Grabber’s clutches.  

“We had a pretty slow start, but I’ve had quite a few groups contact me about booking the room towards the end of the month,” Jensen said.  

The room will remain open until Halloween night with availability through Oct. 22-25 and Oct. 28-31. To reserve a time, contact Jensen at [email protected]. 

So far, CJA is happy with the results of the event, and remains optimistic for the future of the organization. 

This has been a great experience and learning opportunity,” Jensen said. “I’ve gotten to know some fellow club members that have chosen to help us run the room, and I’ve really been able to grow CJA. I am super excited for what the rest of this year has in store for our club! 

Based on the experience of creating and running the escape room, CJA is hopeful this may become a reoccurring event.  

I’d like to do another escape room next year,” Wiles said. “It’s been a great experience for everyone involved, and if we can turn all my decor and props laying around into something fun that raises money, I’m interested.”