Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Coal Miner's Slaughter 

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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Episode cast overview:
Jessica Fletcher
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


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 November 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Megan Mullally Was 30 Years Old When She Starred In This Episode. See more »


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

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User Reviews

Worth seeing for the cast
7 September 2017 | by See all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Coal Miner's Slaughter" is not one of my favourite episodes of Season 5 or of 'Murder She Wrote' in general. It is still very good nonetheless and to me is ranked among the better "Jessica getting involved in murder in a small town" episodes. There is actually not that much wrong with it, though that the killer's identity wasn't a shock to me and the way they're found out being on the lazy side was disappointing. The motive was not so obvious though.

The episode is particularly worth seeing for the cast. Not only the dependably great Angela Lansbury, but Megan Mullally (who has never looked so young) is also absolutely terrific as are Hoyt Axton and Chuck Connors. Denver Pyle is a natural presence too.

Mystery-wise, it's a fun and intriguing one. It's set up very well and, while it's a little formulaic, moves along at a neat pace. Only the conclusion could have been done a little better.

Production values as ever are slick and stylish with a highly atmospheric setting. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The writing is thought-provoking, light-hearted and amiable.

In summary, very good and worth seeing for the cast in particular. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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