Murder, She Wrote: Season 5, Episode 5

Coal Miner's Slaughter (20 Nov. 1988)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama
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When a former student is arrested for murder, Jessica heads to West Virginia to bail her out. The unfriendly town hinders her investigation.



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Title: Coal Miner's Slaughter (20 Nov 1988)

Coal Miner's Slaughter (20 Nov 1988) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Episode cast overview:
Sheriff Tate
Nora Morgan
Tyler Morgan
Carlton Reid (as Cliff DeYoung)
Marilyn Jones ...
Bridie Harmon
Reese Morgan
Molly Connors
Eben Connors
Travis Harmon


Mountain mine owner Tyler Morgan has been cheating on his wife Nora for years. He runs the coal mine in an 'old-fashioned' way, making his son Reese Morgan wish he were dead. Recently graduated lawyer Molly Connors announces she'll sue him for the death of her father Joe in a mine explosion ten years ago, but is instantly jailed for trespassing at the mine's 'private' staff party. Mentor Jessica bails her former Cabot Cove pupil out before union rep Carlton Reid can and enjoys dinner with her granddad Eben Connors. Next night Tyler is shot in his nearby home, the murder weapon found in Molly's car. Sheriff Tate wades in other possible motives, Jessica finds out about those and Tyler's secret past, involving his kept girl Bridie Harmon, widow of teenager Travis's father Danny, who died in the same explosion. When Jessica goes search for evidence at Eben's place, the killer has knocked him. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

20 November 1988 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title pertains to country singing legend Loretta Lynn, the Coal Miner's Daughter, who had a hit song, an autobiography and a movie (which won Sissy Spacek an Oscar for Best Actress) named after it. See more »


References Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

"In a Cabin in the Hills where Butchers Holler"
27 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The nice-looking performers in this episode would make for a worthwhile guest cast on a "Love Boat" cruise: Hoyt Axton, Barbara Bain, Chuck Connors, Cliff De Young, Marilyn Jones, William R. Moses, Megan Mullally, Denver Pyle, Jared Rushton. But "Coal Miner's Slaughter" would neither work on a ship nor a love theme.

In the back story, about a dozen or so years before the action of "Coal Miner's Slaughter," an explosion inside the mine at Colton, West Viriginia had claimed four lives. Whether it had been an accident or set on purpose remains a matter of dispute among townsfolk, and a rather hot topic at that.

The sharp-shooting Morgan family stands at the center of controversy. Tyler Morgan (Chuck Connors) had served as mine foreman, who may have been responsible for negligence. Wife, Nora Morgan (Barbara Bain), has earned ribbons for target shooting at a very young age. Son, Reese Morgan (William R. Moses) can hold his own in disputes with his father.

Carlton Reid (Cliff De Young) has been an officer for the Miner's organization. Sheriff Tate (Hoyt Axton) serves as law enforcer for the county.

Birdie Harmon (Marilyn Jones) had lost her husband in the mining mishap, raising alone her young son, Travis Harmon (Jared Rushton), by opening a boarding house.

Eben Connors (Denver Pyle) had lost his son in the explosion. His son's daughter, Molly Connors (Megan Mullally), had relocated to Cabot Cove with her now-late mother, to tend to her schooling, with Jessica Fletcher Angela Lansbury) as her Ninth-grade English teacher. Molly has since graduated from law school and returns to Colton to act upon her suspicions that Tyler Morgan had caused the mine explosion.

And now, Jessica arrives in Colton by bus, after hearing of Molly's arrest for threatening Tyler at a celebration. When a murder occurs in the aftermath, the town takes sides leading to a hostile showdown outside the sheriff's office.

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