Law & Order: Season 12, Episode 5

Possession (31 Oct. 2001)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 69 users  
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A pair of feuding siblings who share ownership of a building are suspects in the murder of one of their tenants, because she may have been the only person keeping them from selling the building for millions of dollars.



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Airs Wed. Sep. 09, 12:00 AM on WE

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Title: Possession (31 Oct 2001)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Stefan Havel
Charles Braden
Roberto Ramos
Anne Paulsen (as Glynnis O'Conner)
David Lipman ...


When a woman is found murdered just outside her apartment, initially the police suspect the building's handy man because apparently she gave him $5000 and they suspect he wanted more. But when he is cleared, they learn that she was living in a rent controlled apartment and that the owner wants to sell the building and the woman who was killed was keeping her from doing so. When they find a pair of bloody shears, they arrest her. But when she testifies before the grand jury and claims that she's unable to have done it, they refuse to indict. McCoy tries to find another way to get her and they learn that the building manager is the co-owner and her brother. They eventually learn that he and the murdered woman were involved. But the man claims he is estranged from his sister. Written by

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Release Date:

31 October 2001 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Detective Ed Green: [reading complaints Martha Taylor filed against her tenants] Claimed the tenant left a stale cake and used tea bags on her doorstep.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: Oh, call in the SWAT Team.
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Who Killed The Lunch Lady?
12 February 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Law And Order episode Possession is a uniquely New York story because it deals with that phenomenon known as rent control. The victim here is this elderly woman with a reputation of being an old miser who is stabbed to death in the hallway of her building on Madison Avenue. It's a small apartment building and the ground floor is occupied by Linda Thorson's dress shop and Thorson is also the owner and occupies another apartment.

Another unit is occupied by John Schuck who is Thorson's brother, but they are feuding. He's an iconoclast and it turns out she and the late victim who earned a living as a cafeteria lady in one of the public schools were an item when they were young and frisky.

Thorson has a great business opportunity to sell the building if she can get the tenants out. She did get the rest, but Schuck and the lunch lady. And why would she, the lunch lady has a lease and guaranteed rent of $362.00 a month. As Sam Waterston says, he'd kill for that apartment.

So would many New Yorkers. Possession aired in 2001 and back in my working days with New York State Crime Victims Board, I was first assigned to a senior citizen's unit and I had to take financial information including rent in 1979. Would you believe that I saw rents from some of the elderly as low as $40.00 a month? Someone who moved to their dwelling or was there during World War II when rent controls were first instituted was still paying at that rate with no regard to inflation. No wonder tenants want to stay no matter how good or bad a neighborhood might get and no wonder landlords can be unscrupulous in terms of evicting them.

In fact it's those rent stabilization laws and those who work under that umbrella that leads to a solution to the crime. This episode is a truly New York story.

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