Murder, She Wrote 7.12 “Suspicion of Murder”

In this Dennis Stanton-centric “bookend” episode, Dennis has a brief affair with a married woman, and is subsequently accused of murdering the woman’s husband!

Jessica Fletcher takes a break from dealing with Japanese Beatles in her garden in order to tell us a story.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Ben Hellinger, the husband of one of Dennis’s old flames!
Click to reveal the killer It was Christina Hellinger, his wife! (And Joey Hellinger helped her!)
Click to reveal the weapon It was an icepick through the heart!
Click to reveal the location The body was found in the shower in Ben Hellinger’s house, but had been kept in the freezer prior to that!
Click to reveal the motive His wife no longer wanted to be married to him and wanted to get back together with the recently divorced tennis player! His son Joey was her accomplice because he got cut out of the will and Christina promised him a chunk of his inheritance.

Cast of characters:

As this is a Dennis Stanton episode, we have him and his usual group of sidekicks:

  • Keith Michell plays Dennis Stanton. This is his fifth of nine total appearances on MSW. He first appeared in “A Little Night Work“.
  • Hallie Todd plays Rhoda Markowitz, his secretary. This is Todd’s fourth of seven total appearances on MSW. She initially played a different character (in “Class Act“), but has been playing the character of Rhoda since “Always a Thief“.
  • James Sloyan plays Robert Butler, his boss. This is Sloyan’s fourth of seven total appearances on MSW. He initially played different characters (such as in “The Body Politic“). His first appearance as Robert Butler was in “Always a Thief“.
  • Ken Swofford plays Lt. Catalano, his frequent police contact. As revealed in this episode, his first name is Perry. This is Swofford’s seventh of eleven total appearances on the show. He initially played different characters (such as in “Steal Me a Story” and “Truck Stop“. His first appearance as Lt. Catalano was in “Always a Thief“.

Just as in “The Great Twain Robbery”, Yuji Okumoto makes an appearance as Lt. Catalano’s sidekick, Detective Ishimini (alternatively referred to as Ishimine). However, Okumoto’s role was not credited in this episode.

The intrigue in this episode revolves around Dennis rekindling a romance with an old flame:

  • Susan Blakely plays Christina Hellinger, Dennis’s old flame who is estranged from her husband Ben Hellinger (an unseen character). This is Blakely’s second of four total appearances on MSW. She previously appeared in “The Error of Her Ways“.
  • Robin Strand plays Danny Hellinger, Ben Hellinger’s more industrious son. This is Strand’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Trevor Hudson’s Legacy“.
  • Sam Bottoms plays Joe Hellinger, Ben Hellinger’s other son, who isn’t as interested in continuing in the family business. This is Bottoms’ second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Search for Peter Kerry“.
  • Dennis Cole as Ryan Donovan, a former professional tennis star and host of a reception where Dennis Stanton runs into Christina Hellinger. This is Cole’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Menace, Anyone?”

Characters with more minor roles include:

  • Robert Donavan plays a man at the reception for Ryan Donovan.
  • Lenny Citrano as a doorman at Christina Hellinger’s apartment.
  • Adam Silbar plays a Clerk at the hotel where Dennis takes Christina to stay.
  • Paul Keith plays a Cashier at the hotel.
  • Judy Kerr plays a Housekeeper at the hotel. This is Kerr’s second and final appearance on MSW. She previously appeared in “Doom with a View“.
  • Ed Beechner plays a Policeman.
  • Dennis O’Sullivan plays Policeman #1.
  • John Arndt plays Policeman #2. This is Arndt’s second credited appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Snow White, Blood Red“.

Final thoughts:

We learn more about Dennis’s past as in his discussion with Christina he mentions that he was married for 24 years before his wife died of cancer. I do wonder how he was able to make his marriage work while being a professional cat burglar. [Edit: Thanks to Becky in the comments below for reminding me that, according to “A Little Night Work“, Dennis didn’t start his cat burglar career until after his wife died—in order to avenge the insurance company that denied her medical payments.]

One of the scenes in the episode shows Dennis Stanton spending the night sitting at home and talking to his deceased wife.


  1. Joanna your blog is fabulous. I learn so much and I love your attention to detail and the rundown on all the great actors. In Final thoughts, though, I think it is humorous to imagine Dennis’ wife in Heaven looking down at him. But I don’t believe that he was a cat burglar while they were married. You yourself explain the plot that we hear in A Little Night Work, that he only became a thief after his wife’s death to get revenge on the insurance company. What he did before we are never told. Wonder what his job used to be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Becky! You’re right, and I can’t believe I had forgotten about my comments from ‘A Little Night Work’ already! So much happens in between different episodes/seasons that it’s easy to get caught up in the most recent episode and forget what happened before 🙂


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