Murder, She Wrote 8.2 “Night Fears”

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It’s Jessica Fletcher’s first day as criminology professor at Manhattan University. There have been a series of muggings on campus recently which Jessica decides to investigate after one of her own students becomes the latest victim, and when her colleague and predecessor (who is also an ex-cop) challenges her to solve the crimes,

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was an un-named and un-seen student, supposedly the victim of a random campus mugging!
Click to reveal the killer It was Wallace Evans, a forensics professor and former police officer! (But the mugger was a local student with financial problems.)
Click to reveal the weapon It was a gunshot!
Click to reveal the location It was on campus grounds!
Click to reveal the motive The killer accidentally shot the victim when he stumbled upon a mugging in progress. He meant to shoot the mugger, but bullet went through the mugger and hit the victim instead! He then tried to cover up his mistake by making it look like the victim used the knife found on the scene to wound his attacker.

Cast of characters:

Since the mystery here revolves around the Manhattan University campus, we have several of Jessica Fletcher’s colleagues at the criminology department and university staff.

  • Alan Oppenheimer plays Doctor Raymond Auerbach, the department head. This is Oppenheimer’s first of two total appearances on MSW. He plays Dr. Raymond Auerbach both times.
  • Wings Hauser plays Wallace Evans, a former police officer who now teaches Forensics. This is Hauser’s second of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Reflections of the Mind”.
  • Alina Rosario plays Professor Felicia Archoa.
  • Mary Pat Gleason plays the reference librarian.

The cast of characters also includes several of Jessica’s students.

  • Julie St. Claire plays Roslyn Aramendi, a promising student who knows her Shakespeare.
  • John Lavachielli plays David Morelli, an NYPD Officer.
  • Bobby Hosea plays Kevin Bryce, another NYPD Officer. This is Hosea’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Tim Choate plays Luke Phillips, who is taking the course because he’s a big fan of J.B. Fletcher’s writing. This is Choate’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Mr. Penroy’s Vacation“.
  • Kelle Korbel and Leesa Zelkin each play un-named students.

Additional important characters include:

  • Al Pugliese as NYPD Captain Jim Lupinski who head the police department where some of Jessica’s students work. This is Pugliese’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Mr. Penroy’s Vacation“.
  • Roxie Roker as Jennifer Bryce, the mother of one of Jessica’s students. Roker is best known for playing Helen Willis, a neighbor on The Jeffersons.
  • Anthony Darren as a busboy working at the campus cafeteria.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

both tim choate and al pugliese appeared in mr penroy’s vacation

As usual, I try to look out for little details while preparing these episode summaries. If you pay close attention to the list of students who took out the library book that Jessica Fletcher believed to be an important clue, you’ll find that Chester Gould took out the book from June 1st 1990 until June 15th 1990. For those who don’t immediately recognize the name, Chester Gould was the author of the Dick Tracy comics. The date is also significant since there was a Dick Tracy movie starring Warren Beatty that was released on June 15th 1990.

As far as I’ve been able to find, there is no such book as “The Psychopathic Psyche”.

Ever since “The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane“, I’ve also been paying extra attention to the newspapers shown on screen. In the case of this episode, if you freeze-frame on the campus newspaper, you’ll find that multiple paragraphs in the article have been repeated.

Finally, one of the things I’m always interested in is figuring out the filming locations for the episodes. However, I must say that this one has me stumped. It appears to have been filmed on location at a college or university campus, but I can’t figure out which one. (Although the likelihood is that it’s located somewhere in Los Angeles, or perhaps California more broadly.) If any of these buildings look familiar to you, please let me know in the comments as I’d be very interested in learning their identity.

3 comments

    1. Yeah, I think it’s because it was sort of an accidental death, and it turned out that the killer wasn’t the same as the mugger. I did find the clues a bit hard to follow in this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is definitely one of the more complex stories, I had to watch it many times before getting a handle on whodunit. I really appreciate it when a plot is complex enough that each time I watch, I don’t quite remember how all the pieces fit together, so it’s almost like watching a new episode, I wonder if the writers knew people would be rewatching these so much! This episode has a lot of fun details, and even though it is dark, there is a feel of high tone that keeps it from being too dark. Tim Choate is hilarious as the student stalker. One thing tough for me, is that the mugger is this unlikely looking guy, he’s supposed to be the guy who beat that girl up? He doesn’t seem the type. He mugs and brutally beats kids to afford school? And then he tangles with a basketball player, why? Had the Evans character not come along to mess things up, I believe that the basketball player would have won the struggle. A totally different story would have ensued. Thanks for the great trivia, I love the Dick Tracy catch!

    Liked by 1 person

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