Detectives discover that a recently-murdered white woman had recently given birth to a baby whose race reveals a well-kept secret about the baby's biological father.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joshua Burdett
Frances Houston
Harry O'Reilly ...
Jerry O' Brien
Lou Liberatore ...
Kent Broadhurst ...
Harry Stokley
Franchelle Stewart Dorn ...
Ms. Joyner
Mike Hodge ...
Leonard Hillman
Keith Randolph Smith ...
Morris Keach


Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate the death of Karen Burdett who jumped - or was pushed - out of her apartment window. They initially suspect suicide but the crime scene unit confirms she was thrown off the balcony. Her husband Josh dismisses suicide at first but then confirms that she may have been depressed over giving up their three week old daughter for adoption. He says they gave her up because he didn't want children, but when the police learn the baby is African-American, they begin looking for her boyfriend. The fact is that Josh Burdett is actually African American but has passed as white all of his life. Even his first wife - to whom he was married for 19 years - denies ever knowing he was black. ADA's McCoy and Ross soon realize they're on the wrong track and prosecute the person they are sure is responsible. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

19 November 1997 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Adam Schiff's quote "Back then they had lynch mobs and bull-whips; now they use toilet plungers" likely refers to the beating and forced sodomy with a broom handle of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by Brooklyn NYPD officers. The case made national news that summer, a few months before this episode first aired. See more »


References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Just a way of life
28 February 2016 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Although the intentions were good this particular episode has way too many improbabilities to make any sense.

The second and current wife of Stephen Mendillo goes off her balcony and the Medical Examiner says she was definitely helped. She had arranged to give up a child she was expecting to another younger family.

The whole crux of this episode Mendillo in fact was black but light skinned enough to pass. But in fact he has a son by his first wife Deborah Rush who also seems to pass without his knowledge. And presumably the infant that the victim gave up also can pass. Sorry, but it makes no logical sense.

Even more importantly it's wife number one who kills wife number two and Rush who found out about her husband's dark little secret is raising their kid. What can be going on in her home with a teenage son she must hate for his biracial heritage? Yet she raises him apparently without any domestic incidents in her history toward him.

A shame because this could have been a nice commentary about racism, but no one really thought this plot through.

A shame also because S. Eptha Merkerssen really shines in one scene where she confronts Mendillo in the squad room about his shame based behavior.

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