Jessica Fletcher’s Family Tree

Probably one of the biggest questions that fans of Murder, She Wrote have is: “Just how many nieces and nephews does Jessica Fletcher have?”

Below, I outline all the relatives that (to my knowledge) ever appear on the show. Based on this information, I have also put together a family tree for Jessica Fletcher. If you have any additions or corrections to this information, please let me know in the comments.

Jessica Fletcher and her husband Frank are marked in yellow and green, respectively. Blue indicates characters seen on-screen. Grey indicates family members who are mentioned or who are otherwise presumed to exist. Click on the family tree above to open the full resolution image.

(If you want to show your appreciation for the work I put into this, you can buy me a coffee.)

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Recurring family members:

  • Victoria “Vicky” Brandon, niece; married to Howard Griffin
    • Vicky is Jessica’s niece, although it is never made clear whether this is a direct relationship or one by marriage. With a surname like Brandon, we can assume that it is Vicky’s mother who is the sibling of either Jessica or her husband Frank.
    • It is possible that Vicky’s parents are deceased since she didn’t mention them coming to San Francisco for her wedding.
    • Vicky and Howard appear in a total of three episodes: “Birds of a Feather” (S1E2); “Corned Beef and Carnage” (S3E5); and “The Fixer-Upper” (S6E15)
  • Emma MacGill, “cousin”
    • Emma is introduced as Jessica’s cousin.
    • Since Jessica Fletcher’s surname is MacGill, we can assume the two characters are related on their father’s sides. However, it is not clear whether they are first cousins or more distant cousins.
    • Emma appears in a total of two episodes: “Sing a Song of Murder” (S2E5) and “It Runs in the Family” (S4E6).

Family members who make single appearances:

Aside from the episodes that feature recurring family members, there are 11 additional episodes which introduce additional members of Jessica’s family.

Season 1 Episode 4 “It’s a Dog’s Life”

  • Abigail “Abby” Benton Freestone, cousin
    • Abby is introduced as Jessica’s “cousin”, but their precise relationship is not revealed. Abby has a British accent, suggesting she may be a more distant relation.

Season 1 Episode 7 “We’re Off to Kill the Wizard”

  • Carol Donovan, niece
    • Carol is married to Det. Lt. Bert Donovan.
    • Carol and Bert have two children: Billy and Cindy
    • Carol is introduced as Jessica’s niece, although it is never made clear whether this is a direct relationship or one by marriage.
    • We also don’t know Carol’s maiden name, so we cannot guess as to whether it is her mother or father who is related to Jessica.

Season 1 Episode 13 “My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean”

  • Dr. Marshall MacGill, Jessica’s brother
  • Pamela Crane, widow of Johnny Crane
    • Pamela is Jessica’s niece; she is the daughter of Jessica’s brother Marshall

Season 2 Episode 3 “Murder in the Afternoon”

  • Nita Cochran, niece
    • Nita is Jessica’s niece, although it is never made clear whether this is a direct relationship or one by marriage. With a surname like Cochran, we can assume that it is Nita’s mother who is the sibling of either Jessica or her husband Frank.
    • Nita’s paternal grandmother is Agnes Cochran.
    • Nita’s parents died when she was young and she was raised by her grandmother Agnes.

Season 2 Episode 8 “Dead Heat”

  • Tracy MacGill, niece
    • Tracy is introduced as the daughter of Jessica’s brother Martin MacGill

Season 2 Episode 21 “The Perfect Foil”

Two possible relationships between Frank (yellow) and Cal (green).
  • Calhoun “Cal” Fletcher, “cousin”
    • Cal is Frank’s second cousin once removed.
    • At one point Jessica tells Cal: “my husband Frank’s uncle was your father’s cousin… or was it nephew? I’m not quite sure”. It’s strange that she would specifically mention Frank’s uncle as being related to Cal since presumably Frank’s father would have the exact same relationship to him. Nonetheless, given this description, I assume that Cal and Frank’s shared ancestor is Frank’s great-great-grandfather, rather than Frank’s great-grandfather.
    • His parents’ names were Jane and Edward
  • Aunt Mildred, Frank’s “aunt”
    • Given that Mildred and Cal are close and keep in touch, it’s possible that Mildred isn’t Frank’s aunt but perhaps a Great Aunt or a 1st Cousin once or twice removed.

Season 3 Episodes 1&2 “Death Stalks the Big Top”

  • Neil Fletcher, brother-in-law
    • Neil is Frank’s older brother.
    • Neil’s wife is Constance Fletcher
    • Neil and Constance have a daughter Audrey, who married Howard Bannister
  • Carol Bannister, great-niece by marriage
    • Carol is the daughter of Audrey and Howard Bannister.
    • She is about to marry Glenn Cay in this episode.

Season 4 Episode 13 “Harbinger of Death

  • Carrie Palmer, “niece”
    • Carrie is married to Leonard Palmer.
    • Carrie is introduced as Jessica’s niece, although it is never made clear whether this is a direct relationship or one by marriage.
    • We also don’t know Carrie’s maiden name, so we cannot guess as to whether it is her mother or father who is related to Jessica.
    • Carrie’s husband Leonard tells Jessica that he feels there may have been hostility in the family due to Carrie and Leonard’s age difference. This may or may not suggest that Carrie is directly related to Jessica rather than via Frank.
    • Carrie has an aunt Edna in Ithaca, whom Jessica also said she visited.

Season 4 Episode 20 “Showdown in Saskatchewan

  • Jill Morton, “niece”
    • Jill is introduced as Jessica’s niece.
    • Jill’s mother is named Louise. It is not clear whether Louise is Jessica’s sister or whether she is Frank’s sister.

Season 5 Episode 20 “Three Strikes You’re Out

  • Johnny Eaton, “nephew”
    • Johnny is introduced as Jessica’s nephew.
    • It is not clear whether he is related to Jessica directly or by marriage.
    • With a surname like Eaton, we can assume that it is Johnny’s mother who is the sibling of either Jessica or her husband Frank.

Season 6 Episode 20 “Shear Madness

  • Ann Owens Arden, Helen Owens, and George Owens, cousins
    • The Owens are all siblings. They are introduced as Jessica’s cousins that she recalls playing with while growing up.
    • The episode mentions that their “Grammy” used to live in their house and Grammy’s parents brought their furnishings all the way from England. This supports the idea that the Owens are Jessica’s first cousins, although it’s not clear whether this is on her mother or her father’s side.
    • Jessica also mentions “uncle Walter” in conversation. It’s easy to assume that uncle Walter was the father of the Owens cousins; but it is equally possible that he is another uncle that they all share.

Additional characters never seen but mentioned:

  • Season 6 Episode 21 “The Szechuan Dragon” mentions that Jessica Fletcher had an aunt Harriet who used to be engaged to a sea captain.

Phew! Fictional character genealogy is thirsty work!

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