Murder, She Wrote 9.2 “Family Secrets”

Jessica’s former student is back in town and he’s working on a book about Mad Maggie–the greatest scandal the town has ever seen! This event from over 30 years ago has been described as the bloodiest killing in Cabot Cove history. Jessica and Seth describe the events as follows:

Jessica: “Years ago, Margaret Babbington her and cousin Emily Weymouth, and their fiances, Owen Cooper and George Latimer, went hunting in the woods somewhere up north. Margaret and Owen drifted away from the other two, and there was some sort of a quarrel.”

Seth: “Owen Cooper was killed by a shotgun blast at point-blank range. The inquest ruled it accidental but there’s always been some doubt. Now, the Babbington family has been rather well known in Cabot Cove for some years. So naturally the newspapers made a big thing of it.”

Jessica: “It was really very sad. I mean, Owen’s death undid Margaret completely. She was judged insane, committed to a mental institution, and died a short time later.”

But it appears that there may be more to the story as several Cabot Cove residents try to prevent the book from being written.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Randall Sloan, the man writing a book about Mad Maggie!
Click to reveal the killer It was Janet Weymouth, the daughter of Mad Maggie’s cousin!
Click to reveal the weapon It was a blow to the head with a blunt instrument, which turns out to be a heavy paperweight belonging to the victim!
Click to reveal the location The victim was found in the Cabot Cove public library first thing in the morning!
Click to reveal the motive It was money! When the victim uncovered that Mad Maggie had a child (and therefore an heir), the killer didn’t want to potentially lose the family inheritance.
Click to reveal the major clue The killer’s apartment key was found under the victim’s body.

Cast of characters:

It’s a Cabot Cove episode, so of course we get our regulars:

  • William Windom as Dr. Seth Hazlitt.
  • Ron Masak as Sheriff Mort Metzger.
  • Louis Herthum as Deputy Andy Broom.

We also meet some of the people that knew Mad Maggie, as well as their children:

  • Phyllis Thaxter plays Emily Weymouth, Mad Maggie’s cousin.
  • Caroline Williams plays Janet Weymouth, Emily’s daughter. This is Williams’ second and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “Murder on Madison Avenue“.
  • Richard Venture plays George Latimer, who now heads the building commission.
  • David Newsom plays Neal Latimer, George’s son. This is Newsom’s first of two appearances on MSW.

Of course there is also Jessica’s old student and additional Cabot Covers that he comes across in his research:

  • Brian McNamara plays Randall Sloan, Jessica’s former student who is currently taking time off from his job at the Portland Gazette to do research on a book about Mad Maggie. This is McNamara’s second of three appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “The List of Yuri Lermentov“.
  • Charley Lang plays Arnold Lummis, the Cabot Cove town librarian.
  • Debra Stipe plays Sally Bates, a waitress at the coffee shop that Randall Sloan is anxious to talk to. This is Stipe’s second and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “From the Horse’s Mouth“.

Some minor roles include:

  • Michele Bernath as a Woman Customer at the coffee shop (who Sally refers to as Mrs Hansen). This is Bernath’s second and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “A Body to Die For” (another Cabot Cove episode).
  • Paul W. Carr as a Businessman who meets with George Latimer at the building commission.
  • Richard Brestoff as William Baily, an administrator at the Cumberland County Sanitarium in Portland.

At one point in the episode, we also see a flashback of what happened that fateful day 30 years ago:

  • Blair Sorby plays a Young George Latimer. (According to IMDb this was his only on-screen credit.)
  • Beth Taylor Hart plays Margaret Babbington.
  • Jeff Bankert plays Owen Cooper.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

One thing of note about this episode is that the scene in which Jessica first walks into the coffee shop was subsequently used in the opening montage starting in Season 10. [LINK]

We also see a bit more of Cabot Cove, but I must comment on the fact that some of the locations don’t really make sense. In particular, we see a scene in which Neal Latimer is looking out the window of the building commission office and seeing Sally Bates walking out of the Coffee Shop. This perspective doesn’t make any sense since in many other episodes it’s evident that the coffee shop faces the harbor and shore line. The building commission office would have to have been built on the water for this view to be possible.

For the most part, Cabot Cove scenes were filmed on the “Jaws Lake” backlot at Universal Studios. Notably, we see that Janet Weymouth’s apartment is next to the Lighthouse Motel location we saw in previous episodes (bottom left photo). We also see some establishing shots of the Cabot Cove library (bottom center), but upon closer examination the sign above the building actually says “City Hall”. Finally, it appears that there is a banquet hall somewhere in or near Cabot Cove where fundraising dinners can take place (bottom right), but I’m not quire sure about the real location of this building.

Finally, although there are plenty of pictures and gifs out there with Jessica taking a drink of something, I haven’t yet come across anyone sharing a screenshot from this episode in which Jessica has a particularly sly look on her face:

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