Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Murder in the Electric Cathedral 

Jessica must find the murderer of her close friend whose will is in contention between family and a popular evangelist.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Mark Brady
Nurse Sue Beth
Earl Fargo
Rev. Willie John Fargo
Sister Ruth Fargo
Harvey McKittrick
Sam McKittrick
Carrie McKittrick
District Atty. Fred Whittaker
Jeannie Wilson ...
Alice McKittrick
Jill Hill ...
Tammy Lee
Donald Craig ...
Owen Bush ...
Belinda Beatty ...
Ethel O'Neil (as Belinha Beatty)


In Oklahoma, Electrical Cathedral TV preacher Willie John Fargo gets Jessica's philanthropist friend Carrie McKittrick to leave his church most of her family's oil fortune by last will. After a heart-attack provoked by her stepson Harvey McKittrick and his son Sam McKittrick's opposition to the will, Carrie dies in the Cathedral's hospital, from cyanide poisoning. Now the heirs produce a deathbed will leaving everything to the family again, which Jessica proves to be posthumously 'signed' by Sam holding her hand. Examining the trails of the fatal syringe in the hospital and the money in the virtual church, Jessica finds Fargo is a diabetic refusing to disclose his alibi; his prints are on the syringe, but... Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

16 February 1986 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mildred Natwick co-starred alongside Angela Lansbury in 'The Court Jester' (1955) starring Danny Kaye. In this episode of MSW, 'Murder in the Electric Cathedral', Natwick and Lansbury's characters comment that it's been 30 years since they saw each other, a nod to their time working on 'The Court Jester'. Glynis Johns who appeared in Season 2 Episode 5 'Sing a song of murder' also co-starred in 'The Court Jester' with Lansbury. See more »


When Jessica is comparing Carrie's handwritten letter to her Last Will and Testament, the supposed "will" is actually what appears to be a page from a transcript of one of Jessica's books. The "will" starts with "It was a dark and stormy night in Cabot Cove. I sat in my favorite rocker contemplating the evenings happenings with anxiety and regret." See more »

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User Reviews

Will the Real Will Rile Willie John?
30 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode features one of the last appearances by stage, screen and television star Mildred Natwick, in her delightful performance as Carrie McKittrick.

In its back story, Carrie had served as a schoolteacher, who encouraged Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to teach and to write. Carrie had gone on to settle in Oklahoma, to marry widowed farmer Wendall McKittrick, who struck oil on his land, to incur wealth. Wendall's son, Carrie's stepson, Harvey McKittrick (Richard Herd) continues in the oil business some fifteen years after Wendall's passing. Carries hasn't seen Jessica in more than thirty years by now, but they continued to correspond, and Carrie has told her that if she ever crosses through Oklahoma, to stop by for a pleasant visit.

Upon Jessica's stopover to Cherokee Flats, Oklahoma, in the Tulsa region, Carrie informs her that she has met "the most wonderful man," a local televangelist who ministers to the masses through his Church of the Electric Cathedral.

Reverend Willie John Fargo (Steve Forrest), along with his wife, Sister Ruth Fargo (Judy Geeson), and his business manager/brother Earl Fargo (Frank Bonner) has created an empire, consisting of television studio, hospital, soup kitchen and three clinics on a nearby reservation. And now Carrie has named Willie John in her will as sole beneficiary to her estate.

Carrie's stepson, Harvey, and grandson, Sam McKittrick (Art Hindle) adamantly oppose Carrie's bequeathing her fortune to Willie John Fargo. Sam's wife, Alice McKittrick (Jeannie Wilson) befriends Jessica, confiding Sam's cruelty toward her.

Dr. Mark Brady (Jack Bannon) operates the hospital on the grounds of the Electric Cathedral, with capable Nurse Sue Beth (Barbi Benton) near at hand.

And after the night of a "Murder in the Electric Cathedral," District Attorney Fred Whittaker (Dick Van Patten) welcomes Jessica's assistance to investigate clues in the absence of his police force, and in the presence of the mounting feud between McKittrick oil interests and the Electric Cathedral ministry, often battled in hospital corridors.

Rounding out the guest cast, the character of Maid Ethel O'Neil (Belinda Beatty) witnesses one of the will documents, and secretary at the D.A.'s office, Tammy Lee (Jill Hill), provides information leading to additional clues.

"Murder in the Electric Cathedral" earns points for convincing acting, meticulous directing, well-scripted dialogue, sharp fashion and beautiful segue music.

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