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Boar’s Head owners regret invitation to MLK murder mystery party

The group that owns the Boar’s Head Resort said it regrets the decision to link a murder mystery party with the Monday holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

King, the civil rights activist, was murdered on April 4, 1968. He was in Memphis at the time doing work on the Poor People’s Campaign.

“Attend the Billionaire’s Club Annual Masquerade Ball on Martin Luther King Day weekend, and help solve a murder mystery,” reads an emailed invitation for the event taking place Sunday evening at the resort just outside Charlottesville in Albemarle County.

“The linking of the event to MLK weekend … I think it was regrettable and not our best effort,” Tim Rose, CEO of the University of Virginia Foundation, which owns the resort, told The Daily Progress.

Rose said the resort has removed language on its website linking the party to the holiday.

He said that the foundation and resort have learned a valuable lesson.

“We’ve learned from that as it relates to doing something on that weekend,” he said.

However, Rose added the resort still planned on hosting the murder mystery party as intended. Tickets, which cost the public $90 apiece, were sold out as of Friday evening.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides real estate services and other support to the university but otherwise operates as a separate entity. The Boar’s Head is a foundation property that the university often uses for events such as Board of Visitors meetings and the annual Winter Wander.

Kevin Thurman, director of special events at Boar’s Head, did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress.

Several in the Charlottesville community took to Twitter on Friday to voice their discontent, including former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney.

“@Boars_Head Instead of worrying about jumpstarting the billionaires club (even in jest) consider donating your profits to The Haven Shelter instead of to the resorts’ bottom line,” tweeted Brackney, who is suing her former employer for wrongful termination alleging racial and gender discrimination.

The Haven at First and Market in Charlottesville provides a shelter and other services to the area’s homeless population.

Proceeds from the resort’s party on Sunday go solely to the resort itself, which handles its own finances, according to Rose.

Over last year’s holiday weekend, the resort hosted a “Winter Wander MLK Weekend” series of events that included a UVa basketball watch party, a performance by the Academical Village acapella group, discounted resort rates and amenities and retail specials throughout the weekend.

James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was charged in 1968 with King’s assassination. He pleaded guilty in 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He later made attempts to withdraw his guilty plea but was unsuccessful. He died in prison in 1998.


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