Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
3 user

The Phantom Killer 

Jessica comes to the aid of a promising young reporter when he is suspected of murdering a rival magazine's unscrupulous publisher.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »




Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Vanessa Angel ... Kathryn Scofield
Christian Bocher ... Dave Wolski
Herb Edelman ... NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber (as Herbert Edelman)
Janet Julian ... Ellen Harper
David Kriegel David Kriegel ... Ben Forman
Jack Laufer ... Carter Drummond
Reiner Schöne ... Hans Dietrich (as Reiner Schoene)
Alan Thicke ... Harrison M. Kane
Scott Valentine ... Dean Richards
Emily Warfield ... Abby Peters
Leonard Lightfoot Leonard Lightfoot ... Detective Henderson
Mark Barriere Mark Barriere ... Waiter


In New York, Jessica gets interviewed and followed by a sweet young profile-writer, Ben Forman; his agent Dean Richards is threatened in Jessica's presence by the bullying competing producer Harrison M. Kane, who tells his publisher Carter Drummond that he'll buy the magazine and tries to recruit Ben directly. Dean bitches to photographer Hans Dietrich and star model Kathryn Scofield, who is intimate with Hans. Ben follows Abby Peters after he overheard her being roughed up by Kane, who is then found dead from electrocution in the hotel bath. Shortly thereafter, NYPD Lt. Artie Gelber investigates and soon realizes that Kane made enemies constantly. Dean then calls Jessica, who is surprised Ben hasn't handed in a single page of work. She and the police catch him impersonating nonexistent agent Gary Manion, so he's charged with the murder and confesses, but Jessica can't believe he would leave such obvious evidence against his alter-ego and guesses correctly that he is only protecting ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

24 October 1993 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Dean Richards: Look, Carter, you see the numbers your way, I see the numbers my way.
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User Reviews

"Who Throws That Dryer Into This Tub? ~ Shame! ~ Who Says Somebody Else Does This Snub? ~ Blame!"
17 May 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

Much tension arises around New York City's "Follies Magazine" to meet its publishing deadline for its latest edition around the corner.

Publisher Dean Richards (Scott Valentine) doesn't heed some suggestions by Administrative Assistant Ellen Harper (Janet Julian) and also disagrees with Financial Manager Carter Drummond (Jack Laufer) when banks deny loan applications for the fledgling operation.

Photographer Hans Dietrich (Reiner Schöne) works diligently to meet his deadlines with Model Kathryn Scofield (Vanessa Angel), to develop her fashion poses by Friday.

And fumbling Article Writer Ben Forman (David Kriegel) attempts his assignment to feature an interview with busy Mystery Author Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) by Friday, as she permits Ben to tag along with her on the run. So, Ben becomes Jessica's sidekick of sorts, but also investigates on his own.

Struggling Actress Abby Peters (Emily Warfield) goes with Ben Forman, while Dancer/Motorcyclist Dave Wolski (Christian Bocher) encourages Abby to meet her audition appointments, leading to a romantic triangle entanglement among Abby, Ben and Dave.

Dean Richards and Kathryn Scofield also see each other socially, which causes additional tension with Ellen Harper, who seems to like Dean, while Hans' working closely with Kathryn adds to the tension among Ellen, Carter, Hans, Kathryn and Dean.

But tensions and altercations are merely beginning when Corporate raider Harrison M. Kane (Alan Thicke) announces his take-over plans for "Follies Magazine" when Dean Richards lunches with Jessica, who, neither, is glad to see Harrison M. Kane because he has, against her permission, usurped one of her books to shop around to Hollywood studios, devaluing potential film rights once they all turn down Kane's demands.

While "Follies Magazine" employees rally to meet the publishing deadline with high professional standards to their output, somebody tosses an active hair dryer into the tub of a victim who bathes while inviting a sting of visitors into the open-door bubble-bath session. Well, you know how these things go by now.

Waiter (Mark Barriere) stumbles across the body while delivering room service, but he doesn't scream, uttering, "OMG!"

NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber (Herb Edelman) and Detective Henderson (Leonard Lightfoot) investigate the murder with Jessica on the trail. Artie Gelber's cases usually have sub-plots, and this time around, he's in a hurry to wrap the case because he has promised wife, Doris, a Catskills get-away.

With Detective Henderson around to identify fingerprints very speedily, and Jessica around to expedite matters all the more readily, evidence begins to point to cigar-happy Agent Gary Manning as the perpetrator. (Or do they call him Greg? or Manion? Maybe let's call him "GM.")

But whom does GM represent? And how could Detective Henderson identify the last fingerprint if nobody has seen Gary Manion, the perceived "Phantom Agent?"

Will "Follies Magazine" meet its deadline? Will Doris and Artie make it to the Catskills on time? Will Jessica manage to nurture young love from either set of frustrated admirers? And what about the Phantom? Has the Phantom killed, or has somebody killed the Phantom, as there is much to uncover regarding "The Phantom Killer."

The cast is rounded out by Steven Martini as (uncredited), who, perhaps serves as the voice across the intercom?

This episode represents the first of two "MSW" appearances each for Steven Martini and Scott Valentine, the second of two for Janet Julian, the second of five for Leonard Lightfoot (each in his role as Detective Henderson), and the seventh of ten for Herb Edelman (including this, his fourth of seven as NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber).

Herb Edelman, acting in film and on television since 1964, has unfortunately since passed.

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