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"Perry Mason" The Case of the Corresponding Corpse (TV Episode 1958) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A man that faked his death has been exposed and is blackmailed. With help from Perry, he plans on returning to his wife. But, before that can happen, he is found dead and a woman he had a relationship with is charged and needs Perry's help.

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  • George Beaumont is being blackmailed by an insurance investigator, Harry Folsom. Beaumont throws him out but his girlfriend Ruth Whittaker gives him $7000 to just go away. In Los Angeles, Perry Mason is shocked when Della mentions that George Beaumont called him while he was out as Beaumont was supposed to have been killed in a plane crash three years before. Beaumont had in fact missed the flight that crashed but as he and his wife had not been getting along, he decided to start a new life. He's now returned to Los Angeles intent on making contact with his wife Laura, now a successful businesswoman. When Beaumont is found dead, however, it's Ruth Whittaker who is charged with murder and Perry agrees to defend her.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • In Crestview City, insurance investigator Harry Folsom (Vaughn Taylor) confronts George Beaumont (Ross Elliott) with evidence of his identity, and he admits it. Folsom solicits a bribe to keep quiet, but George turns him down. However, George's girlfriend Ruth Whittaker (Joan Camden) enters, learns what's going on, and says she could raise some money. Folsom leaves, and George tells Ruth that he'll see him dead before paying him anything. (Of course, George has been Perry's client.) Later, Folsom visits Ruth at her aging mansion, a sign of former prosperity. She could only raise $7000. Folsom takes it, gives her three copies of his report, and promises to forget what he knows. As he leaves, Ruth's father Jonah starts yelling for his pills. Ruth tells him to get them himself. Having burned Folsom's reports, she takes her suitcase and leaves. She refuses to confirm Jonah's surmise that she's going to George, but it's right. However, she learns from his landlady that he's moved out. He left her a note: "My dearest, forgive me. I can't spend my life hiding from the truth. Thanks for everything. Love, George."

    In L.A., Perry enters the office of Laura Beaumont (Jeanne Cooper), now running Beaumont Office Equipment. She introduces him to sales manager Glenn McCay (William Ching), who tries to sell him a check writing machine. Perry's only there to drop off papers from when he settled George's estate, but Laura just puts them in the trash. Meanwhile, Ruth visits George at the Villa Motel in L.A., having learned his forwarding address from the landlady. He's decided that after three years since he disappeared when a plane that took off without him crashed, he's going to turn himself in. In fact, he's already written a letter to Laura, figuring that will be less of a shock than just showing up. He's also called Perry's office, but Perry was out so he left a message that he'd call back later. When he tells his hopes of making up with Laura to Ruth, she's furious. To make matters worse, it wasn't even Folsom's arrival that brought on these thoughts, they started earlier. Ruth yells that he should have told her about this before she used all her savings to pay off Folsom. She says that the way he's treated her is like someone playing fetch with a dog, grabbing a letter opener and waving it to make a point. At this moment, motel manager Leon Corby (Sylvie Léonard) enters.

    It's late at night, and Perry and Della are waiting for George's call, rather to Paul's amusement. Perry gets a call, but it's from his "friend and admirer", Lt. Tragg. George has been murdered and the police found Perry's contact information on the body, so Tragg wants Perry to identify him. When he does, Tragg says that George was stabbed with the letter owner. Corby told the police what he heard of George and Ruth's argument, and when they went to her room, she was packing to leave. She's now under arrest for murder. In jail, she fills in Perry on backstory. After disappearing, George decided to fulfill a lifelong ambition to be a painter, and met Ruth in art class. She tells him she's innocent and Perry agrees to represent her. This comes as disagreeable news to Laura, whom Perry visits next. McCay says that George meant well, but ruined both the business and his marriage. Both of them deny knowing about Folsom, and Perry says he'll get in touch about that check writer later.

    Paul goes to Crestview City, where Folsom denies blackmailing anyone - he just made a report to his company. Paul says they hadn't received it yet when he just checked, and suggests that Folsom only mailed it in once he learned that George was dead. Folsom threatens to spread a lie that George told him that he got the idea to disappear from Perry, which would make him complicit in insurance fraud. However, Paul merely has to grab him by the lapels and he admits that he learned of George's survival from Jonah Whittaker. Back in L.A., Paul is reporting to Perry that Jonah has disappeared when a call comes in from him. Jonah is with the D.A.

    In court, Tragg identifies the letter opener and says they found Ruth's fingerprint on it. On cross-examination, he explains the position of George's body. He was stabbed in the back while kneeling. Corby testifies about the argument he overheard at his motel, the afternoon before the murder. On cross, he relates having seen Ruth holding the letter opener at that time. On redirect, he says that he also saw Ruth coming out of George's room around 6 PM, but did not see George then or later, until he discovered the body. Perhaps Burger also grabbed Folsom's lapels, because on the stand he admits all his misdeeds. Perry asks if he also approached Laura, who might be unhappy about George's return to life. Folsom says no, but only because he never thought of it. He adds that he knew George was going to come forward, but insists he didn't kill him. Laura testifies about Perry's visit before the murder. She says she felt sick after lunch, and went home. On cross, she says she never got any kind of message from George. During a recess, Ruth tells Perry what George had said about having written to Laura. That strikes a chord with Perry, and he rushes off to find Paul.

    Back in court, McCay identifies an envelope that the police found during a search of the Beaumont office in his presence. It's addressed to Mrs. George Beaumont and has as a return address "G.H.B." and the address at the Vista Motel. The envelope was sealed, but the police have since opened it and found a letter from George revealing that he was alive. On cross, he says the letter arrived after Laura went home sick, so she knew nothing of it. McCay saw it, but didn't know what it meant until the police opened it. Perry shows him a tool and asks him to identify it. McCay merely describes its appearance: two steel knitting needles soldered together at one end. Perry asks him about its function, but McCay acts as if he doesn't understand. Perry says it's a tool of his trade, and he got the one he has now from one of McCay's salesmen. It's used to help sell check writers by demonstrating how easy it would be for someone to remove a check from a sealed envelope, alter it (if not printed with a check writer), and put it back without unsealing the envelope. Perry does a demonstration, but with a letter rather than a check. He accuses McCay of having seen the "G.H.B." on the return address and deciding to check it in the manner described so he could return it to incoming mail. He couldn't just remove it, because receptionist Roberta Walker (Joan Staley) might have remembered seeing it. McCay confesses to the murder, saying he did it for Laura, because George would have ruined everything. Laura, apparently horrified, rushes out of the courtroom.

    In the office, Della asks why McCay didn't take a gun to kill George. Perry speculates that he probably did, but George managed to knock it out of his hand. Paul says he's right but wonders how Perry knew. The clue was the position of the body. George was kneeling because he was trying to recover McCay's gun when he was stabbed in the back. Paul's expense report include a "Miscellaneous" entry for $125.98 - when he saw the salesman to get the envelope-opening tool, he ended up buying a check writer. Perry says he should have known Paul had no sales resistance. He gives the check writer to Della so she can write Paul a check.

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