Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Night of the Coyote 

Jessica helps the sheriff of an old Western town solve a murder that is connected to a legendary stagecoach robber's long-lost treasure.



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Episode cast overview:
... Jessica Fletcher
... Tony Sable
... Max Teller
... Sheriff Sam Keeyani
... Susan Lindsay
... Earl
... Charles Strickland
... Ben Judson
... Uncle Ashie Nakai (as Floyd Red Crow Westerman)
Joanelle Romero ... Alice Chee (as Joanelle Nadine Romero)
... Betty
Roman Cisneros ... Deputy (as Roman J. Cisneros)
Ernie Vincent ... Mr. Wheatman


In Silverville, New Mexico, Max Teller has turned a ghost town into a tourist attraction, but a bank loan officer wants to buy it, a former cohort in crime arrives to blackmail him, and a thieving hand that he fires threatens him. When the Silverville Museum burns, mysterious Sheriff Keeyani appears to get word from the spirits that it was arson, but Jessica realizes he is covering standard police procedure with a show. Max is killed, and it may have been related to treasure missing from an 1898 holdup. Written by mama.sylvia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 November 1992 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In Night of the Coyote, Sheriff Sam Keeyani (Graham Greene) gives the definition of Anasazi, as "ancient enemies" and Jessica accepts this. In season 2 episode 11, Murder Digs Deep, Jessica uses the definition of Anasazi as 'the ancient ones," (not enemies) to determine Raymond Two Crows (Randolph Mantooth) was impersonating a native expert. The word Anasazi belongs to the Navajo language and means "the ancient ones". See more »


Earl: [as Sheriff Keeyani walks up] Well, if it ain't Tonto!
Sheriff Sam Keeyani: That's Sheriff Tonto to you.
See more »


References The Night of the Iguana (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

"Fortune Fever" Flourishes in Silverville
29 January 2010 | by See all my reviews

Dateline Silverville, New Mexico, 1898: Legendary bandit Cutter McGee ambushes a stagecoach, gunning its driver, and fleeing with its treasure chest.

Residents abandon Silverville by 1905, but by the current day, Max Teller (Steve Forrest) has restored the tiny community, complete with Silverville Museum and a twice-a-day re-enactment of Cutter McGee's ambush, featuring Earl (Gary Kasper) as stagecoach driver, who tumbles from the moving vehicle to the applause of tourists, who delight in this "show within a show."

After her divorce from Roger, Artist Susan Lindsay (Mariette Hartley) has relocated to nearby Chaco Springs, New Mexico, which houses the local population of Silverville's employees, in the region around Coyote Canyon, land once settled by the Navajo Tribe, wealthy in tradition and mystique.

When Susan receives a visit from her dear old friend Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), on her second visit to New Mexico, Susan offers Jessica a tour of Silverville, which includes its historic re-enactment, as well as Silverville Museum, which exhibits a collection of Susan's paintings and other memorabilia of local interest, as curated by Susan's current beau, Max Teller.

At the Museum, Jessica meets fellow author Charles Strickland (James Stephens), who researches the legend of Cutter McGee, often at Chaco Springs Library, which Mr. Wheatman (Ernie Vincent) operates with a "Quiet, Please" policy.

While Susan is busy, Jessica hikes around Coyote Canyon, where she encounters Sam Keeyani (Graham Greene), who appears upon and soon disappears from a nearby rock almost as a vision, between which times they exchange pleasantries and understandings about the Canyon.

Sam Keeyani turns out to be the Sheriff based in Chaco Springs during a time when roles of "MSW" law enforcement officers are becoming developed with dimension and character, possibly thanks to the influence of Angela Lansbury as new Executive Director. This one isn't out to make hasty decisions and jumping to conclusions about arresting suspects, as Sheriff Sam Keeyani's role is one of wisdom and deliberation, as his actions are woven into nearly every scene here.

Tony Sable (Frederick Coffin) pays a visit to Max Teller, after serving his four-year sentence in Los Angeles for bilking customers in a credit card scheme, in which he and Max deposited spoils in off-shore bank accounts, and now Tony demands his cut, or else he'll report Max's involvement for the funds which he most likely used to purchase Silverville.

Ben Judson (Nicolas Surovy), banker and Chaco Springs Chamber of Commerce President, holds the mortgage on Silverville Museum, upon which Max is making payments. But now, Ben offers to purchase the Museum, which Max has no intention of selling.

"Sam," as the Sheriff prefers to be addressed, confides in Jessica his interest in Alice Chee (Joannelle Nadine Romero), an employee at the Mayor's office, whom Sam once cited for a speeding violation, and now sees as often as possible, as he very often requests reports to be delivered from the Mayor's office, personally by Alice, who advances her resume by taking evening courses in Sante Fe.

Female characters are also experiencing developmental enhancements under Angela Lansbury's reign as "MSW" Executive Director, with an added degree of independence and freedom to tackle more than one responsibility simultaneously, such as Betty (Laura Wernette), who still runs errands as Secretary to Max Teller, but willingly volunteers to work evenings because her job comes first, well, along with the extra perk that comes after Susan dumps Max after he won't confide his feelings to her.

So, that evening, after an arsonist torches Silverville Museum, a long list of suspects arises, beginning with Earl, whom Max has fired earlier in the day, but Sheriff Sam immediately discovers a series of clues to dismiss Earl as arsonist, to Jessica's amazement.

But Jessica, of course, inspires Sam in return, after Betty discovers a body two days later (without screaming. She's composed.) But several others are still on the hunt of the buried treasure, and so Jessica joins Sam on the hunt of suspects.

Sam escorts Jessica to visit his Uncle Ashie Nakai (Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman), in Coyote Canyon, to share one another's wisdom and kind-hearted compliments, before trapping their murder suspect, during this, the "Night of the Coyote."

This episode represents the first television acting credit for Laura Wernette, as well as the most recent television acting credit by Joannelle Nadine Romero.

This also reflects the first of two "MSW" guest appearances for Graham Greene, the first of three for Nicolas Surovy, the second of four for Frederick Coffin, the third of four for James Stephens, and the fourth of five "MSW" guest starring roles for Steve Forrest.

Frederick Coffin, acting since 1973, and Ernie Vincent, acting since 1986, have unfortunately since passed.

Three, Six, Nine "MSW" Nights: "Night of the Headless Horseman (#3.11)," "Night of the Tarantula (#6.07)," "Night of the Coyote (#9.06)," sprinkled with "A Little Night Work (#5.02)" and a few "Night Fears (#8.02)."

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