Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Dead Letter 

Jessica's acquisition of an old bureau at a rummage sale unleashes a chain of events that leads to the death of a local volunteer fireman in a furniture store.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Susan Anspach ... Lois Fricksey
Rosemary DeCamp ... Agnes
Peter Fox ... Ron Stiller
George Furth ... Fred Owens
Max Gail ... Stanley Holmes
Jonathan Goldsmith ... Bud Fricksey
Ron Masak ... Sheriff Mort Metzger
Richard Paul ... Mayor Sam Booth
Robin Riker ... Connie Kowalski (as Robin Riker-Hasley)
Al Waxman ... Carl Wilson
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Will Nye ... Deputy Floyd
Kevin Bourland Kevin Bourland ... Everett
Richard Riehle ... Aaron


At the Cabot Cove volunteer fire department rummage sale, Jessica takes Fred Owen's furniture store clerk, Stanley Holmes' advice to buy an old table that can be fixed up. When she hand-delivers an old letter found in it to Bud Fricksey, it makes him believe his wife Lois had an affair with a fellow volunteer firemen who he he picks a fight with. Shortly after, Bud dies in the fire at Fred's store, which is suspected to be arson. But Bud was first killed by a blow to the head. Jesscia helps the sheriff discover secret motives for either fire or murder. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The title refers to a term used by the United States' Postal Service for a letter that cannot be delivered due to the illegibility or absence of a forwarding or return address. See more »

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User Reviews

Firing the Fuse of the Firey-Tempered Fired-Up Fireman
2 October 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the swan song appearance of Rosemary DeCamp, whose career as a star of Classic film and television began in 1941. Richard Paul, Al Waxman and George Furth have also since passed.

At the annual Cabot Cove Volunteer Fire Department's annual bazaar, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) purchases an antique bureau, in need of refinishing.

When Jessica stops by Owens' Furniture store, to pay owner Fred Owens (George Furth), because he serves as the benefit treasurer, Fred is trying to conduct a sale with Young couple (Steve Bean and Lynn Clark) and asks her to remit her check to his bookkeeper, Stanley Holmes (Max Gail), who has already volunteered to refinish her bureau.

Upon arranging the finished chest of drawers near her desk, Jessica attempts to open the top drawer, which had been jammed by a "Dead Letter," mailed from Boston six months earlier, and addressed to Cabot Cove firefighter Bud Fricksey (Jonathan Goldsmith).

Jessica had spoken with Bud's wife, Lois Fricksey (Susan Anspach), at the fund-raiser, but doesn't see her around the residence when Jessica turns the envelope over to an enraged Bud. Bud, in turn, catches Lois' exchanging pleasantries at the gasoline station with the son of its owner, Ron Stiller (Peter Fox), who services her automobile and who, like Bud, volunteers at the Cabot Cove Fire Department station.

Other Cabot Cove Volunteer Fire Department crew include Fire Chief Carl Wilson (Al Waxman), Everett (Kevin Bourland), Jack (Stuart Nelson) and Aaron (Richard Riehle), some of whom respond to a call that night at Owens Furniture Store.

A comically flippant Mutual Fidelity Insurance Company Claims Inspector Connie Kowalski (Robin Riker) arrives in town the next day to investigate the cause of the damages to the structure, deciding before arriving at the scene that an arsonist caused the destruction.

Mayor Sam Booth (Richard Paul), Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom), Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) and Deputy Floyd McCallum (Will Nye) also join in the investigation because a body was discovered in the rubble the night before.

Amid a constant stream of bickering between Agent Kowalski and Sheriff Metzger, and a round of accusations among Mayor Booth and the firefighters, Jessica gets into the act of investigating the fire and the murder, starting with attempting to uncover the identity of the sender of the "Dead Letter."

Jessica speaks with retired Postal employee Agnes (Rosemary DeCamp), who recalls the sender's asking her to destroy the letter before Bud has the chance to receive it. Because U.S. Postal regulations forbid employees from damaging mail, Agnes had filed it into the bureau, which she donated to the Fire Department upon her recent retirement.

And now, it is up to Jessica to figure how various clues tie together to solve this murder.

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