MPLES-CSI, Episode 1

The Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Crime Report

The settlers of Roanoke faced almost immediate peril. They landed with few supplies and too late in the year to plant crops. Their leader, John White, decided that the only chance of survival was for him to return to England to get more supplies. His journey took far longer than planned.

On August 15, 1590, three years later, John White returned to Roanoke Island and found it completely abandoned.


“The 15 of August towards evening we came to an anchor at Hatorask three leagues from the shore. We saw a great smoke rise in the isle Roanoke near the place where I left our colony in the year 1587, which smoke put us in good hope that some of the colony were there expecting my return out of England. When we came to the smoke, we found no man nor sign that any had been there lately,”


Strangely, White did not search for the lost colonists. He assumed they had left to join the local natives and were safe so he simply returned home to England. His own daughter and granddaughter were among them and he had left them on the brink of death yet, with no real evidence, he assumed they were fine. Some historians find that hard to believe. What really happened to the settlers of Roanoke Island?


Did they move in with the local natives and become part of their society?

Were they attacked by natives who then removed all evidence of their assault?

Were they sabotaged by the Spanish as part of their war with England?

Perhaps it was something else entirely. This case remains unsolved.

Another Way to View Writing...

Students will become crime scene investigators and use informational text to solve a life long mystery; the mystery of "The Lost Colony of Roanoke". Students preview, review, take notes, discuss theories, and finally develop their own theory of what happened to the colonists. Students will cite evidence from multiple text to support their ideas and theories in preparation for our Socratic Circle next week.

Evidence