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

Jessica is in the wrong place at the right time to help her friend Dorian Beecher when he is accused of a murder he didn't commit.


Walter Grauman


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 4 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Thom Bray ... Dorian Beecher
Karlene Crockett Karlene Crockett ... Sarah Dupont
Judy Landers ... Bobbie
Hope Lange ... Charlotte Newcastle
Doug McClure ... Sheriff Sam Rankin
Charles Siebert ... Dentist Penn 'Doc' Walker
Guy Stockwell ... Dorn Van Stotter
Fritz Weaver ... Edwin Dupont
Barry Williams ... Nate Findley
Brandon Douglas ... Todd Carrier
Donald Thompson Donald Thompson ... Robert
Adam Ferris Adam Ferris ... Brendan
Sanford Clark ... 1st Man
Gary Pagett Gary Pagett ... Deputy


Only after arrival at Wenton, Vermont does Jessica learn she was asked by an orphaned literary protégé, Dorian Beecher, who succeeded as boys boarding school poetry teacher due to the car accident-drowned of Gretchen, daughter of Dorn Van Stotter, to play Dorian's 'mother' to impress his employer, Wenton Academy's pedigree-obsessed owner, Edwin Dupont, whose daughter, Sarah, he loves, rivaled only by the studly riding instructor, Nate Findley, an obnoxious womanizer. Walking home after an embarrassing fight in a pub with Nate, Dorian is run down by the disguised headless horseman he always assumes to be Nate, on his black stallion, Gunshot. Sheriff Rankin jails Dorian after Nate's decapitated corpse is found nearby, clumsily redressed as the horseman. Jessica sifts two plots for secrets and motives, involving an anonymous school funds embezzlement note, the secret society of mischievous schoolboys Todd Carrier, Robert and Brendan and a past crime. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 January 1987 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title refers to the Headless Horseman, the ghost that rides through Washington Irving's story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' and chases the schoolmaster Ichabod Crane. See more »


[first lines]
Dorian Beecher: Her eyes glistened with the promise of a thousand yesterdays she had never known, and then she came to me and unleashed the promised passions of a thousand tomorrows yet to come.
Sarah Dupont: Oh, Dorian. You wrote that for me?
Dorian Beecher: For you alone, Sarah.
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Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

Mama Jessica
25 July 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Socially inept Thom Bray a poetry teacher at a boy's country day school invites fellow writer Jessica Fletcher to the school as a guest lecturer. What he tells when she arrives is that he has told everyone including stuffy schoolmaster Fritz Weaver that Angela Lansbury is his mother. A bit mortified Lansbury goes along with the lie.

That turns out to be a bad move when the school's womanizing riding instructor Barry Williams is killed, in fact decapitated. When Bray and Lansbury fess up to that lie, the sheriff Doug McClure isn't inclined to believe Bray is innocent of murder. In fact there was a public humiliation of Bray by Williams earlier.

But someone like Williams is going to have a host of people wanting to do him in. A little investigating and you know Jessica Fletcher will solve it.

Personally one look at Bray and you know he's not capable of murder.

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