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  • Tessa Ramsden

CAB Debuts Five Nights at Herky’s Event, Eight Killed: “Skill Issue,” Engineer Says

five nights at herkys

The Campus Activities Board, or CAB, is a student organization well known throughout the University for being given thousands of dollars to come up with reasons to give away free iPads because they tell faculty it stops kids from drinking. One of their most popular events every year is the haunted house, and with the upcoming release of the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie this fall, this year they decided the entire haunted house would be themed after the popular video game franchise.

“CAB Presents: Five Nights at Herky’s” debuted this week in the IMU second-floor ballroom. The event consisted of five rooms divided by blackout curtains, all themed after the video games. Each had their own student actors and unique jumpscares, including a camera room, a supply closet, a kitchen, Pirate’s Cove, and the grand finale: a dark hallway where an actual animatronic modeled after our very own Herky the Hawk would chase the guests out of the house.

The animatronic was designed and constructed by Henry Schmidt, a second-year undergrad studying mechanical engineering here at Iowa. Schmidt told Doily that he had been passionate about the FNAF franchise since its beginning.

“I’ve always wondered if I could create the animatronics and suits the way Afton (the fictional engineer within the FNAF franchise) did, down to the exact details,” Schmidt explained. When asked if those details included the springlock’s abilities to change from an animatronic into a suit that can house a person and kill children, Schmidt merely shrugged.

CAB event director and fourth-year marketing undergrad Emily Montgomery was the leader of the Five Nights at Herky’s project and commissioned Schmidt for the event, telling Doily it was not hard to convince the org to spend thousands of dollars on this mechanical horror.

“We have so much money we actually pay our members,” Montgomery stated. “Plus, if we could get our Haunted House attendance up by convincing the gamer kids to actually leave their dorm rooms, we would spend as much as we need to.”

This tactic was clearly effective, as their first night attracted a line down the stairs and out the doors of the IMU, with some students waiting long enough to actually beat the entire first FNAF game on mobile while in line before entering the attraction. Reviews at first were generally positive, with students gushing in particular about the realistic scariness of the villainous Herky.

Unfortunately, after CAB members began to clean up and reset the ballroom on the first night, they discovered the Herky animatronic was a little too accurate to the video game. The bodies of three students—third-year Charlie Michaels and first-years Gregory Beech and Elizabeth Circadia—were found dead in a darkened corner of Herky’s hallway from a strong force that had crushed their skulls. This is reminiscent of the bites of ‘83 and ‘87 in the games, in which the animatronics have a failure in the mouth springs that causes them to close on people’s heads and kill them. However, due to the overwhelmingly positive reviews from the rest of the uninjured guests, Montgomery decided to go ahead with the event’s second night.

When asked if Montgomery even had someone check on the animatronic to see if the danger was something they could fix, she bluntly told Doily, “I leave all that to Schmidt, and he texted me saying it was good.” We tried to do a follow-up interview with Schmidt himself, but he was reported missing the morning after the event’s first night.

The next night added an additional several pages to the consent waiver, but beyond that received the same amount of popularity and positive feedback as the first night. However, it also ended in the same tragedy. The yet-identified bodies of five more students were found in the same corner of Herky’s hallway after the event closed, and this time the Herky animatronic itself was missing.

Montgomery and her team were forced by their legal department to close the attraction as a full-on manhunt began to find Schmidt, Herky, or both. After six hours of scouring the halls of the IMU, second-year CAB member Mark Patrick finally discovered the missing animatronic in the third-floor black box.

“At first I thought it was just turned off,” said Patrick. “But when I got closer, it started moving faster than I thought a robot should be able to move.” After a harrowing battle, Patrick finally pinned the Herky animatronic and yanked its head off to reveal that it was in fact not just an animatronic, but had suit capabilities and Schmidt was currently inside. Schmidt was arrested by the authorities shortly after. As he was escorted out of the IMU, witnesses overheard him saying, “All those kids had skill issues. They just needed to get good!”

Schmidt is currently being held on eight counts of second-degree murder. A court date has not been set. In light of this, the University is conducting a thorough investigation into CAB and its leadership team. The fates of Montgomery and her peers are yet to be determined.


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