Law & Order: Season 6, Episode 11

Corpus Delicti (17 Jan. 1996)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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An investigation into a horse swindling scheme escalates into a murder investigation when one of the accused's possible victims--his ex fiancée--disappears.


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Title: Corpus Delicti (17 Jan 1996)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Converse ...
Lyle Christopher
Byron Jennings ...
Richard Brandson
Tibor Nichols
Maureen Moore ...
Mrs. Grayson
Lisby Larson ...
Susan Merriman
Delphi Harrington ...
Judith Grayson
William Severs ...
Susan Bauer


Detectives Briscoe and Curtis are called to what they're told is a murder only to get there and find the victim is an expensive show horse. Curtis thinks it's a waste of time but Lt. Van Buren insists they investigate the possibility of insurance fraud. The horse was owned by Richard Brandson and the investigation leads him to his associate Lyle Christopher who has a history of being sued by former clients. When they try to locate one those dissatisfied customers, Ruth Thomas, they learn she was supposed to be on a three month cruise. She never made it to the cruise ship and the police and the ADAs are convinced Christopher he killed her. Without a body and a generally weak case, Executive ADA McCoy is going to have to play with an ace up his sleeve. Written by garykmcd

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17 January 1996 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The episode is inspired by the Helen Brach case. Many elements from her disappearance (and presumed murder) in February 1977 were used in the episode. The investigation into Brach's disappearance uncovered a conspiracy to murder her to prevent her from cooperating with federal officials in Chicago investigating the horse-breeding trade.

Richard Bailey, with whom Brach was romantically involved and from whom the character of Lyle Christopher is based, was the only one of the alleged conspirators to face any charges- 29 counts, including fraud and murder. He was convicted on the fraud charges and has been serving a 30-year sentence since 1995.

The investigation into Brach's disappearance subsequently led to the conviction of over 50 individuals involved in the fraudulent horse trade: with charges ranging from murder, fraud, arson, and obstruction of justice. However, and unlike the episode plot, Brach's body was never found and she was legally declared dead in 1984. See more »


When the detectives finish shooting at the firing range, they take off their hearing protection while still in the range. A police officer would not remove his hearing protection until after leaving the range. See more »


Detective Rey Curtis: I didn't become a detective to investigate dead animals.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: [voice imitating Mr. Ed, the talking horse of the eponymous 1960's TV series] Oh come on, Wilbur. Somebody killed a horse. You're not going to let him get away with it, are you?
See more »


References Star Trek (1966) See more »

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"We're not the horse police"
22 April 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In the first few episodes that Benjamin Bratt did as Detective Rey Curtis on Law And Order he was a bit headstrong for both S. Epatha Merkersen and Jerry Orbach. Case in point is he and Orbach being sent on a call for a dead horse the owner is convinced was murdered. Bratt says loud and long that they're not the horse police, but Orbach given that he likes the sport of kings is intrigued.

Actually it turns out that the horse was murdered and the investigation leads to a horse trainer who calls in a horse hit man to do such services, but Frank Converse as the trainer has that as only part of his persona. You see he's killed a society matron he was romancing, but who caught on to him. Problem is that her friends and neighbors think she's on a long planned for cruise around the world and Converse has disposed of the body.

What to do. Either they try Converse without a body on murder or they try him on some fraud cases and leave him on ice while they build a case. In any event Sam Waterston decides to go for broke. In the end though Converse might just get away with it.

Usually Law And Order episodes are diligently researched, but I think that double jeopardy will attach no matter how it comes down.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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