Crack cocaine comes to Sparta bringing military style weapons to establish a beachhead. When his friend is killed making a score, Eugene Haskell, Harriet DeLong's son, will not tell the police what he witnessed.
Follow-up to "A Small War: Part One" (#6.1). Crack cocaine overruns the Sparta schools. Bubba Skinner teams up with police Lt. Katherine Keller from Jackson in fighting the war on drugs. Eugene, Harriet DeLong's son, decides to cooperate with the police.
Seventeen-year-old Megan Fowler is trysting at the lake with a married man, Lyle Ridley, when he is killed by an unknown assailant with a high-powered rifle. Garth Williams is an immediate suspect because he has been infatuated with Megan for some time. Buford Fowler, Megan's step-father, is implicated in the shooting because his rifle and muddy boots are found in a closet. Althea Tibbs counsels Garth during this life shattering incident.
Follow-up to "A Frenzied Affair" (#6.4). Two weeks have passed since Althea Tibbs witnessed Garth Watkins' suicide by shotgun. Althea suffered almost a complete breakdown and is on leave from the high school. Megan Fowler has found a new boyfriend, an outlaw biker from Alabama, and Buford hits on Megan in disgust. The boyfriend robs a store and wounds a personal friend of Chief Gillespie.
As the sole breadwinner in the family, Rose Murphy must keep her job at all costs, although it means tolerating a flirtatious boss and not telling her husband. When flirtation turns ugly, Rose takes matters into her own hands.
Dr. Frank Robb, the county coroner, reports several suspicious deaths by morphine overdose at Newton General Hospital to Chief Bill Gillespie. In addition, a considerable quantity of narcotics is missing from the hospital pharmacy. Cora Lucas, Aunt Ruda Gibson's roommate in the hospital is the latest victim. Suspicion falls on Dr. Lambert, who has access to hospital narcotics and has attended each of the dead patients, as well as Ruda Gibson. Virgil Tibbs is convinced his Aunt Ruda knows more than she is willing to admit about the situation.
Songwriter Ace McCabe accuses country/western singing star Eddy Larren of stealing his most popular hit. McCabe heckles Larren for alleged unpaid royalties and pulls a gun. McCabe is killed in the fight, and Eddy's manager, Mal Talbot, takes the blame. In the investigation Bubba Skinner must face the difference in hype and reality.
Serena Grimes is attacked and her car stolen by a man and a woman. When Bubba Skinner consoles her after the incident, she mistakes his good intentions for something more personal. She sends him flowers at the police station as her affection becomes an obsession.
Rebecca Lewis and Mark Meyers have a lover's quarrel in a secluded place along the river bank. Suddenly Rebecca dashes away and throws herself off the river bridge, plunging to her death. Foolishly, Mark does not consult his friend and law school colleague, Virgil Tibbs, but instead tries to hide all traces of his being there. Unbeknown to Mark, however, a witness is found who places him at the scene, and Virgil has no choice but to arrest his friend.
Judge Lawton Gray is running for Congress, but his wife Muriel is an alcoholic. Muriel's personal assistant, Eleanor Brooks, spies the judge kissing Sparta Town Councilwoman Roslyn Douglas and tells Muriel about it. When Muriel confronts her husband with this information, he sets up a scheme that thickens the plot into a witches' brew.
Bill Gillespie's and Harriet DeLong's quiet evening at a local nightclub is disturbed by Bob Pinkney and Al Merck, who insult the couple with racist remarks. When the men are asked to leave, they cause a drunken disturbance outside, and Sweet arrests them. Pinkney tries unsuccessfully to bribe Sweet, then accuses Sweet of soliciting a bribe. The investigation leads down several trails to an unexpected conclusion.
Sgt. Parker Williams' drunken step-father, Daddy Roy Eversole, is arrested in a bar fight, and Parker appears in court to pay the fine. Roy asks Norbert Clemens for his old job back but is thrown off the property. Roy threatens to kill Clemens. When Clemens is killed, Roy is arrested.
Rickie Wilson, a young circular delivery boy, witnesses a fatal beating by a local slumlord, Sonny Roper. Det/Lt Lonnie Jamison and Sgt Luanne Corbin investigate, but the incident is in county territory under Sheriff Will McComb's jurisdiction. Ricky eludes Lonnie and Luanne and flees the scene, and McComb is incensed, escalating the bad blood between the sheriff's office and the Sparta police. When Roper serves an eviction notice on a young widow, Sarah Hallisey, Harriet DeLong gets involved, against the strong advice of Chief Bill Gillespie.
Senatorial candidate George Deschamps, a racist bigot leftover from a former era, sets up a fake assassination attempt on himself to garner sympathy and votes. Meanwhile, Chris Pastore, a campaign worker, is having an affair with Deschamps' wife. The assassination plan is risky, and Pastore is critically injured. Is it an accident or on purpose?
Etta Kibbey, Virgil Tibb's aunt, recognizes Jimmy Ray, who was in partnership with Etta's husband Marcus twenty years before and embezzled and fled with the company funds, indirectly causing Marcus' untimely death. Jimmy has come to reconcile with his estranged wife Carla, who wants no part of him. Jimmy also embezzled all of Lester Meacham's money, which left Lester a broken man. Now Lester lives with his daughter Connie and son Perry, who has sworn vengeance against Jimmy Ray. Carla variously entertains Lance Carter romantically and connives with Perry Meacham. Etta...
Candace Sloan, a young African-American woman lawyer, makes a claim against the estate of Horace Sloan Sr. At probate three decades earlier, the executor, Horace Jr., cheated Candace's family out of their promised heritage. The white heirs balk at reopening the will, although Horace Jr. is in favor of awarding the full amount. In a struggle with his son Lamar, Horace Jr. dies unintentionally. Lamar stages a break-in to cover his father's death and the theft of the will. In the investigation the heirs blame Candace for the break-in.
Big land developers from New Orleans, with reputed connections to the mob, want to buy a large tract of land near Sparta for a reservoir and housing development. By chance, Lana Farren's (Bill Gillespie's daughter) property is a major part of the plan, but she does not want to sell. To make the deal work, Sparta real estate agent Betty Simms and lawyer Alvin P. Epp conspire with arsonist Ron Griff to torch Lana's house.
Follow-up to "Even Nice People" (#6.20). In the previous episode Ron Griff was killed in the act of setting fire to Lana Farren's house. Now Carl DeLissa turns himself in to the Sparta police to secure a plea bargain. He offers to give up all claim to Sparta assets in exchange for a suspended sentence, which the doddering old Judge Cully grants. Newly freed, DeLissa tries to extort money from the mob-related land developers for his silence, which proves to be a most dangerous game.
African-American Bishop William Prinn is forced off the road and injured on his way to Sparta. He plans to meet with Harriet DeLong's son, Eugene Glendon, to devise a strategy that will get Eugene's father, Vic Glendon, off of death row. In the hospital the bishop is somewhat uncooperative in finding the perpetrator, wishing to keep a low profile in the undertaking. Harriet is persuaded to join the campaign, although she is reluctant.