Murder, She Wrote 6.19 “Always a Thief”

In yet another “bookend” episode, Jessica Fletcher is this time playing us a tape she received from old pal and former jewel thief Dennis Stanton. Dennis is now working in San Francisco on the right side of the law–as a security consultant for insurance companies. On the tape, he narrates a recent case he helped solve involving a coin theft and murder.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim There were two victims in this one. The first was Pedro, the family gardener. The second victim was Lanny Douglas!
Click to reveal the killer Pedro was killed by Lanny; Lanny was killed by his wife Andrea!
Click to reveal the weapon Pedro was stabbed with a pitchfork; Lanny was hit over the head with a golf trophy!
Click to reveal the motive Pedro had witnessed Lanny stealing the coin. Lanny was going to sell the coin because he was running out of money. Once he got the money from the sale, Lanny had planned to dump his wife since he no longer needed her money. Lanny’s wife killed him out of anger after he announced that he was going to leave her!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Dennis Stanton episode, we have him and his accomplices:

  • Keith Michell plays Dennis Stanton, jewel thief turned insurance investigator. This is Michell’s third of nine total appearances on MSW. He always played the same character on the show. He previously appeared in “When the Fat Lady Sings“.
  • Hallie Todd plays Rhoda Markowitz, Dennis’s secretary. This is Todd’s second appearance on MSW, her her first of six total appearances as Rhoda Markowitz. She previously appeared in “Class Act“.
  • James Sloyan plays Robert Butler, Dennis’s supervisor at the insurance company. This is Sloyan’s third appearance on MSW, but his first of five total appearances as Robert Butler. He previously appeared in “The Body Politic“.
  • Ken Swofford plays Lt. Catalano, local police officer who often collaborates with Dennis. This is Swofford’s fifth appearance on MSW, but his first of six total appearances as Lt. Catalano. He previously appeared in “Truck Stop” and “Steal Me a Story“.

The mystery in this episode surrounds a family that owns a very valuable coin:

  • Roscoe Born plays Lansgston “Lanny” Douglas, a restaurant owner whose dead father owned the coin.
  • Lisa Blount plays Andrea Bascomb Douglas, Lanny’s wife.
  • Ed Nelson plays Raymond “Ray” Bascomb, Andrea’s father. This is Nelson’s third of five total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Old Habits Die Hard“.
  • Dina Merrill plays Monica Douglas, Lanny’s mother. This is Merrill’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Shirley Knight plays Grace Lambert, Monica’s sister. This is Knight’s second and final appearance on MSW. She previously appeared in “Smooth Operators“.

There are also a few characters who come into contact with the family:

  • Aharon Ipale plays Mahmoud Amini who has offered to buy the coin. This is Ipale’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Chris Mulkey plays Joey Freeman, Lanny’s employee. This is Mulkey’s first of two total appearances on MSW. He had a starring role on the short-lived comedy-crime series Bakersfield P.D.
  • Marco Lopes plays Pedro, the Douglas family gardener.

Plus a handful of minor characters played by actors who only ever appeared on the show once. This includes: Jill Jaress as coin appraiser Deirdre; Virginia Hawkins as a housekeeper; Mitch Hara as a photographer, and E. E. Bell as a delivery man.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This is the seventh “bookend” episode of Season 6 and the first time that a previously recurring character in the series was used as the focus. All of the previous “bookend” episodes introduced brand new characters that producers hoped would prove to be popular enough to star in their own series. However, none of them did. This episode with Dennis Stanton is really the only one of those episodes that came close. Stanton’s stories became a recurring focus of Jessica-lite episodes in Season 7.

The shots of the Douglas-Bascomb home were filmed at 380 South San Rafael Ave. in Pasadena, California.

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