Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Sticks and Stones 

Cabot Cove is flooded with poison pen letters which proves hard for the town to handle as Amos prepares to hand the reins over to a new sheriff.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Pierce
Friedrich Hoffman
Sheriff Amos Tupper
Elvira Tree
Adam Frobisher
Deputy Willard


Amos eagerly retires, handing over his sheriff's star to real estate agent Harry Pierce, but then Beverly Gareth is found electrocuted in her bath. She was the heir to land of vital importance to Friedrich Hoffman's environmentally horrible 400 condos Cabot Cove coast development project. The town is flooded by gossip letters badmouthing -at least part are lies- Beverly, only one of which was sent by Elvira Tree, who is next found hung. Jessica, her guest New York travel reporter Michael Digby and Amos discover both women were murdered, how, by whom and why; meanwhile the new sheriff Pierce arrests repairman Larry Burns, who allegedly didn't fix Beverly's fatally ragged electric cord after an accusation from Adam Frobisher, then him and Hoffman, but Jessica does her own sleuthing... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 December 1985 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


At the beginning of the episode, the murder victim appears to be watching The Addams Family, in which John Astin stars. See more »


Sheriff Tupper receives an anonymous letter and when he reads it, the letter is a single sheet of paper, no lines, with smooth edges. When he reads the same letter he received in the sheriff's office, the letter is a lined piece of paper with hole punches and a frayed edge. See more »


Jessica Fletcher: [to Harry Pierce as he is being arrested for murder] You don't know how much I wanted to be wrong.
See more »

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User Reviews

O, Vituperation, How Poison Is Thy Pen?
8 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

This episode marks the final appearance of Ceil Cabot, who has been acting in film and on television since 1963. Evelyn Keyes, acting since 1938, Paul Benedict, acting since 1965, and Christopher Stone, acting since 1968, have also unfortunately since passed. This also marks the third of only three acting roles thus far for Kristy Syverson.

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) really has her hands filled with problems this time around, as she struggles to complete a manuscript, when a preppy travelogue writer appears on her doorstep, three development agents convene in Cabot Cove, the local Sheriff announces his sudden decision to retire from his post, many local residents begin to receive scathing letters, causing much animosity around the community, and bodies begin to surface in a bathtub, and dangling by a rope suspended from the limb of a tree.

Let's begin with the recurring Cabot Cove residents Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom), who resists any notion of developing land around Cabot Cove for industrial purposes, and certainly communicates his feelings with Jessica and Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley), who has finally had enough and plans an early retirement, to lounge about his yard, to enjoy the simple pleasures of life for a change of pace.

While Amos retains Deputy Willard (Philip Brown) to continue in his position, he appoints Real Estate Agent Harry Pierce (John Astin) to serve as Cabot Cove Sheriff. Harry Pierce has appeared in the two earlier Cabot Cove episodes of Season Two, and now he accepts his promotion proudly.

Michael Digby (Parker Stevenson), attempting to forge a career as an author, accepts a non-fiction writing position from a travel company to research an article about J.B. Fletcher's hometown, to to put Cabot Cove on the map. He manages an open-ended invitation to visit her residence, which Jessica reluctantly accepts, while explaining that she hasn't much leisure time to serve as hostess, to Michael's understanding and appreciation.

Meanwhile, a set of developers arrives in Cabot Cove, to become known by locals as "The Three." Lila Norris (Betsy Palmer), George Knapp (Joseph Campanella) and Bart Nelson (Howard Witt) scout around the vicinity to bargain with locals for land purchases to develop a possible industrial park.

While locals Beverly Garreth (Kristy Syverson) and Elvira Tree (Marsha Hunt) resist any offer to sell their property, Friedrich Hoffman (Paul Benedict) jumps at the opportunity to deal with the agents over the matter of a parcel of nearby land which he owns.

One resident watches television, set upon a stand, away from her tub, while bathing. After the electricity is disconnected, the emerging from the water, and handling the frayed cord of the appliance causes electrocution when the power is suddenly restored.

Suddenly, Cabot Cove residents begin to receive abusive letters containing sensationalized accounts of their alleged misdeeds and caustic accusations by their neighbors, reaping havoc about the community, now rampant with the flinging of "Sticks & Stones."

Friedrich Hoffman begins to fight with his neighbor, Nils Anderson (Denny Miller), while Mabel Bemish (Ceil Cabot) and Mel (Garnett Smith) get into the act, as well as Edna (Evelyn Keyes), who flings her purse to smack Jessica, while she shows Michael Digby around the formerly peaceful haven.

Free-for-all mêlées continue, as Adam Frobisher (Christopher Stone) launches into a fist fight with Larry Burns (John David Carson) on the docks, when Jessica happens by to call a truce long enough for Larry to inspect the wiring in the victim's house, along with Sheriff Harry Pierce and Deputy Willard.

When Jessica visits Amos in his yard, to plead for his return to try to restore law and order to their community, he stalls the decision, explaining that he has received an anonymous letter from out of town, reporting a threatening situation connecting to Real Esate, she considering this may be the one legitimate letter, which has been obfuscated from discovery with the influx of decoys, while Harry, meanwhile files, or rather, pours, incoming poison pen letters in a basket on the desk at the Sheriff's station.

Jessica then decides to enlist Michael Digby's services to investigate "The Three," by joining them for dinner at a local tavern, and feigning imbibition to the point of intoxication, to attempt to finagle information regarding the controversial land deals in the making, by Lila Norris, George Knapp and Bart Nelson.

As Cabot Cove remains abuzz this evening, "Sticks & Stones" continue to fly, as Michael is suddenly unable to reach Jessica, who assigns him to tell "The Three" a little secret, to narrow plethora of suspects, while Jessica slips to the residence of an elderly neighbor, and stumbles across a body suspended from a tree in the yard, with a suicide note hastily typed in the upstairs portion of the residence. Jessica investigates the kitchen, to determine that the cast iron skillets and pans have not been used recently, instead the lighter, stainless steel ones in their place, thus determining that the second victim has also been murdered.

The cast is rounded out by Ken Sansom as Man, Bob Tzudiker as Agent, and Danny McCoy Jr. as Waiter.

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