When sleazy property owner Keen Philbrick is found murdered in the backseat of his car, the Sparta P.D. soon afterward arrest two of his tenants for the crime. But when the investigation moves forward, Philbrick's dealings with dope pushers might have been the reason for his demise. Bottoms informant Jimmy Dawes gives the Chief the info on who is really behind the slumlord's murder.
As the city of Sparta plans to celebrate its first registered African American voter, Odessa Robbins, memories of the civil rights struggles bring tense feelings between members of the community. As an old time Southern policeman, Bill Gillespie is conflicted, especially because Harriet DeLong was integral to the civil strife and is central to the celebration. The resolution of the conflict is unexpected.
The Sparta P.D. investigates a series of big truck accidents that seem to have a common element to them. When the last driver of the fourth truck crash is autopsied, he is found to have speed in his system. Meanwhile, Althea is worried about one of her students, Shelley Hughes, when she tells about her miserable home life and that her mother's boyfriend Bobby Foster is primarily the one to blame. Althea frustrates Virgil when she vows not to let Shelley be questioned by the police and also doesn't tell Virgil pertinent information involving this case. The Sparta P.D. ...
Garage owner Brian Moss sets a truck bomb that kills Kevin Riley and by chance only injures Peter Ballard, leaving him brain-dead and on life support. Peter's wife Rebecca, who is having a torrid affair with Moss, must now decide how to care for him.
Harriet DeLong wants to raise Eric, her dead sister's son by magnate V. J. Trundel, but V. J.'s wife Emily also seeks custody of the boy. Follow-up to "Citizen Trundel: Part 1" (#3.21) and "Citizen Trundel: Part 2" (#3.22).
Two enforcers from New Orleans, Rene Balcer and Tony Bressak, trace Brian Moseley to Sparta to collect a huge gambling debt (actually stolen money). Brian's father, Warren Moseley, wants to settle the debt, but his brother, Louis Moseley, resents the perceived overindulgence. In this variation on the story of the prodigal son the innocent definitely suffer more than the guilty.
After fourteen years in prison for armed robbery, Roy Paxton arrives in Sparta, looking for his son Laine and his ex-wife Vidalia, who is holding $750,000 loot. Roy kills an insurance investigator to cover his tracks, but he is no match for Chief Gillespie and the Sparta police. The episode alternates between drama and light spoofery.
Ramon Salazar, a political refugee from El Salvador, escapes from a Newman County road gang and seeks sanctuary in the local monastery. Father DiMarco protects Ramon and prohibits even his good friend Chief Gillespie from arresting the fugitive.
Chief Gillespie and Detective Tibbs along with Father DiMarco stand trial together for conspiracy to obstruct justice charges, which deals with failing to turn over escaped prisoner Ramon Salazar who fled a county work detail. Meanwhile, the Sparta P.D. finds there is more to Councilman Waters determination to get Gillespie fired from the police force, when they run surveillance on a prominent Sparta businessman's home.
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.