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.
(If you want to show your appreciation for the work I put into this, you can buy me a coffee.)
Recurring family members:
- Grady Ambrose Fletcher, nephew; married to Donna Mayberry
- Grady is the son of Frank’s brother, who died when Grady was young. His father’s name is never revealed.
- Grady appears in a total of 12 episodes: “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes” (pilot); “Broadway Malady” (S1E11); “Murder by Appointment Only” (S2E12); “Christopher Bundy – Died on Sunday” (S2E19); “Crossed Up” (S3E13); “No Accounting for Murder” (S3E19); “Doom with a View” (S4E11); “Just Another Fish Story” (S4E19); “J.B.. as in Jailbird” (S5E1); “Something Borrowed, Someone Blue” (S5E9); “The Szechuan Dragon” (S6E21); and “The Dream Team” (S11E18)
- Donna appears in a total of four episodes: “Just Another Fish Story” (S4E19); “J.B.. as in Jailbird” (S5E1); “Something Borrowed, Someone Blue” (S5E9); and “The Szechuan Dragon” (S6E21)
- Later in the series, Grady and Donna have a son named Frankie
- 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. When it comes to Jessica’s nieces and nephews, it is often not explicitly mentioned whether they are directly related to Jessica or whether she is related to them through her marriage to Frank. However, since it is sometimes mentioned that Jessica grew up with many siblings (e.g. in Season 3’s “Dead Man’s Gold”) we can assume that (unless otherwise mentioned) they are indeed her blood relations.
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. It is mentioned in the episode that Abby is English and at the end of the episode it is revealed that she is planning to go back to Kent.
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”
- 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.
EDIT (June 18th 2022): After a close rewatch of some of the episodes, I also noted the following:
- Season 12 Episode 19 “Evidence of Malice” mentions that Jessica has a cousin named Teddy.
- Season 12 Episode 20 “Southern Double Cross” reveals that Jessica has a long-lost relative named Eamon McGill.
Following my research into Jessica Fletcher’s family tree, I put together a design featuring pictures of each of Jessica’s 10 nieces and nephews that were ever seen on screen. You can purchase the design on a variety of products via my TeePublic store. The design is now also available on Redbubble.
Phew! Fictional character genealogy is thirsty work!
This is an awesome research work!
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I love this!!! My mom would rent the DVDs from the public library, but then she ended up buying me the full collection. I am watching it now. I am on Season2
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Excellent! Do let me know if you notice a family member I missed 🙂
Haha it’s hard for me to keep up. I think you have done better than I ever would.
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You have it that Carrie Palmer has an aunt named Edna that lives in Ithaca, and Jessica mentioned that she also visited Edna as well. I feel like that implies that Edna is an aunt of Carrie, and a sister or sister-in-law to Jessica.
Yes, certainly it would make sense, but I hesitated to make any conclusions since Jessica is so friendly I wouldn’t put it past her to visit her sister-in-law’s sister-in-law 😀
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Jessica inherits some ownership of a football team from Uncle Cyrus in Season 1 in the episode Sudden Death. Don’t forget about fear Uncle Cyrus!!
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Thanks! I’ll have to rewatch that episode again and see what other information about Uncle Cyrus it offers up 🙂
I love this cuz I watch it everyday but I was just thinking at this point I was like it’s Jessica just a honorary auntie because she got a lot a lot of nieces and nephews and I was like maybe because she’s childless and you know how you just call somebody cuz they’ve been in your life all a long time but then again I don’t know but I really feel like Emma McGill is her parallel cousin.
Two Sisters married Two brothers which gave them this uncanny look I got family members that are parallel cousins and the children are almost interchangeable.
Also you didn’t talk about her aunt that really ties her to America which is the one from Virginia and the made for TV movie “The last free man”
Which I feel is more likely her maternal linage.
Cuz based on the show’s premise and looking at everything I think that the McGill side starts with her dad and his kids and that he really was an immigrant that married an American of Irish/Scottish descent.
I am totally in awe of this family tree and refer to it constantly, I really appreciate your work as it answers so many questions.
We recently watched Death Stalks the Big Top, and I may be wrong but I thought I heard Carol Bannister refer to her fiance as “Clay”. Check it out when you have a chance, I am sure you are busy!
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