When Jessica's friend Norma asks her to come to Gila Junction, Jessica is roped into helping Norma investigate a possible conspiracy while a rumored treasure may have led to a murder.

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(as Anthony Shaw)

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(created by), (created by) | 2 more credits »
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Episode cast overview:
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Lawrence Bayne ...
George Creech
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Whitey Deaver
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Norma Shey
Maya McLaughlin ...
Dena Harding
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Pete Menteer
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Tiny Kerns
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Cal Harding
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Spencer
Kari Whitman ...
Marge Deaver
Bruce Ed Morrow ...
Corley Thompson (as Bruce E. Morrow)
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Todd Hawkins
Paul Ivy ...
Lawson Parks
Robert Seals ...
Highway Patrolman
Dale Swann ...
Bus Driver
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Storyline

In Gila Junction, Arizona Jessica Fletcher is visiting her friend Norma Shey when the local Sheriff, Spencer, receives a call saying they've found Norma's SUV in a ditch with no one inside. She's okay but it's clear that someone took a shot at her, blowing out a tire. Norma has been doing research on a possible cover-up at an old military base and suspects someone is trying to silence her. Spencer soon has a murder to solve when Whitey Deaver is shot. There have been a number of armed robberies in the area by someone dubbed the truck stop bandit and Tiny Kerns may have found the thief's loot. Jessica thinks she knows who the truck stop bandit is but someone else killed Whitey. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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Release Date:

5 October 1995 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Determination for Greener Pastures on the Other Side of the Desert
27 January 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Investigative Journalist Norma Shey (Dorothy Lyman) has been resolving to uncover secrets linked to Camp Bresson a now-defunct Gila County, Arizona, U.S. Army Base.

Tiny Kerns (Douglas Roberts) has been conducting a nineteen-year quest to discover a legendary buried treasure.

Todd Hawkins (Biff Yeager) has been embarking on a vengeful mission to capture the masked Truck Stop Bandit, who bursts into illegal poker games to rob wealthy players, including Corley Thompson (Bruce Ed Morrow).

Meanwhile, everyone else around Gila Junction searches for a means to finance his or her route away from the desolate community.

Handsome Pete Menteer (Robert Rusler), a motorcycle-driving desk clerk at Grand Hotel, presents himself as though he could win the heart of any female in town.

However, there are only three females residing around Gilda Junction: Besides Norma Shey, who rejects the advances of Pete's employer, Cal Harding (Bo Svenson) at Grand Hotel, there are Cal's daughters, Marge Deaver (Kari Whitman), who plays Pete up against her husband, Whitey Deaver (Guy Boyd), and Dena Harding (Maya McLaughlin), the fiancée of Spencer (Jay Underwood), a gasoline station mechanic and part-time Sheriff of Gila County.

Cal Harding has never approved of Whitey Deaver as the husband of daughter Marge because even though Cal and Whitey resemble each other, they are about the same age, and Whitey doesn't provide the type of lifestyle which Marge deserves (according to both Cal and Marge) even though the Deavers operate the local market and lunch counter together, and employ Tiny Kerns, who knows about Marge and Pete, but spends most of his free time digging for treasure in the desert.

While Spencer doubles as the Sheriff, Marge doubles as the U.S. Mail Carrier, and Dena works for the U.S. Department of Interior, and may face a promotion to a position in the State of Washington, which would mean a separation from Spencer should she accept it if offered.

George Creech (Lawrence Bayne), a descendant of the Navaho Tribe, arrives in Gila Junction as a purported Agent of the Arizona Highway Commission, to map a route through the county, while he conducts a ground investigation around the red clay found in one specific location, he doesn't get on well at all with Pete Menteer, which may cause his approval rating to rise with the other men in town, but this, neither, occurs, because of general distrust and fear of nuclear contamination plus the threat of the Truck Stop Bandit.

It is into this somewhat hostile environment that a Bus Driver (Dale Swann) parks to release a traveler, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who arrives to visit her dear old friend Norma Shey. "Nothing much every happens around Gila Junction," says he.

When Jessica walks to the service station to ask Spencer for directions to the sheriff's station in the hopes of locating the missing Norma, Spencer (Remember that he doubles as Sheriff?) volunteers to transport Jessica around the desert once they learn that Norma's vehicle has overturned along a dusty trail during her pursuit of suspects in the Camp Bresson investigation.

Jessica notices a bullet hole in Norma's tire, but an injured Norma, who has sprained her ankle when walking back to "civilization," assures Jessica that this attack is a good thing because that means that Norma is onto an important lead in the case, as she tries to recruit a reluctant Jessica to join forces with her to uncover "The Secret of Gila Junction."

Tiny, meanwhile, uncovers a strongbox filled with cash during an excavation, when he is bludgeoned with his own shovel by someone carrying a knife, who is ambushed by someone hoisting a firearm, when yet another suspect arrives to rescue Tiny, who discovers that someone has carried off the cash and left behind a body.

Norma turns to Cal, who is given an ultimatum by Lawson Parks (Paul Ivy), whose bank holds the Grand Hotel mortgage, while Jessica is caught snooping around George Creech's hotel room, after discovering evidence that no one bearing his name is employed by the Highway Patrol.

With the assistance of a genuine Highway Patrolman (Robert Seals), Jessica sets a trap to nab the murderer, and to recover the stash of cash, and to uncover the truth behind the myth of "The Secret of Gila Junction."

And when the Bus Driver returns to retrieve Jessica, he repeats the notion that "Nothing much every happens around Gila Junction," to a round of laughter by some of those surviving the ordeal.

This episode marks the second of two "MSW" guest roles each for Douglas Roberts, Bo Svenson, Jay Underwood and Biff Yeager, and the second of three for Paul Ivy.

Bruce Ed Morrow and Dale Swann, each acting since 1987, have unfortunately since passed.


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