Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Murder in the Electric Cathedral 

Jessica must find the murderer of her close friend whose will is in contention between family and a popular evangelist.


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
Jack Bannon ... Dr. Mark Brady
Barbi Benton ... Nurse Sue Beth
Frank Bonner ... Earl Fargo
Steve Forrest ... Rev. Willie John Fargo
Judy Geeson ... Sister Ruth Fargo
Richard Herd ... Harvey McKittrick
Art Hindle ... Sam McKittrick
Mildred Natwick ... Carrie McKittrick
Dick Van Patten ... District Atty. Fred Whittaker
Jeannie Wilson Jeannie Wilson ... Alice McKittrick
Jill Hill Jill Hill ... Tammy Lee
Donald Craig Donald Craig ... Director
Owen Bush Owen Bush ... Driver
Belinda Beatty ... Ethel O'Neil (as Belinha Beatty)


In Oklahoma, Electrical Cathedral TV preacher Willie John Fargo gets Jessica's philanthropist friend Carrie McKittrick to leave his church most of her family's oil fortune by last will. After a heart-attack provoked by her stepson Harvey McKittrick and his son Sam McKittrick's opposition to the will, Carrie dies in the Cathedral's hospital, from cyanide poisoning. Now the heirs produce a deathbed will leaving everything to the family again, which Jessica proves to be posthumously 'signed' by Sam holding her hand. Examining the trails of the fatal syringe in the hospital and the money in the virtual church, Jessica finds Fargo is a diabetic refusing to disclose his alibi; his prints are on the syringe, but... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

16 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Mildred Natwick co-starred alongside Angela Lansbury in The Court Jester (1955) starring Danny Kaye. The characters played by Natwick and Lansbury comment that it's been 30 years since they saw each other, a nod to their time working on the movie. See more »


When Jessica is comparing Carrie's handwritten letter to her Last Will and Testament, the supposed "will" is actually what appears to be a page from a transcript of one of Jessica's books. The "will" starts with "It was a dark and stormy night in Cabot Cove. I sat in my favorite rocker contemplating the evenings happenings with anxiety and regret." See more »


[first lines]
Rev. Willie John Fargo: And I say to you, my friends, those of you who want to believe will believe. Those of you who listen for his voice will hear his voice, and those who give themselves to him will be received of him.
See more »


Rock of Ages
Written by Thomas Hastings and Augustus Montague Toplady
Background at wake
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User Reviews

Will the Real Will Rile Willie John?
30 August 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode features one of the last appearances by stage, screen and television star Mildred Natwick, in her delightful performance as Carrie McKittrick.

In its back story, Carrie had served as a schoolteacher, who encouraged Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to teach and to write. Carrie had gone on to settle in Oklahoma, to marry widowed farmer Wendall McKittrick, who struck oil on his land, to incur wealth. Wendall's son, Carrie's stepson, Harvey McKittrick (Richard Herd) continues in the oil business some fifteen years after Wendall's passing. Carries hasn't seen Jessica in more than thirty years by now, but they continued to correspond, and Carrie has told her that if she ever crosses through Oklahoma, to stop by for a pleasant visit.

Upon Jessica's stopover to Cherokee Flats, Oklahoma, in the Tulsa region, Carrie informs her that she has met "the most wonderful man," a local televangelist who ministers to the masses through his Church of the Electric Cathedral.

Reverend Willie John Fargo (Steve Forrest), along with his wife, Sister Ruth Fargo (Judy Geeson), and his business manager/brother Earl Fargo (Frank Bonner) has created an empire, consisting of television studio, hospital, soup kitchen and three clinics on a nearby reservation. And now Carrie has named Willie John in her will as sole beneficiary to her estate.

Carrie's stepson, Harvey, and grandson, Sam McKittrick (Art Hindle) adamantly oppose Carrie's bequeathing her fortune to Willie John Fargo. Sam's wife, Alice McKittrick (Jeannie Wilson) befriends Jessica, confiding Sam's cruelty toward her.

Dr. Mark Brady (Jack Bannon) operates the hospital on the grounds of the Electric Cathedral, with capable Nurse Sue Beth (Barbi Benton) near at hand.

And after the night of a "Murder in the Electric Cathedral," District Attorney Fred Whittaker (Dick Van Patten) welcomes Jessica's assistance to investigate clues in the absence of his police force, and in the presence of the mounting feud between McKittrick oil interests and the Electric Cathedral ministry, often battled in hospital corridors.

Rounding out the guest cast, the character of Maid Ethel O'Neil (Belinda Beatty) witnesses one of the will documents, and secretary at the D.A.'s office, Tammy Lee (Jill Hill), provides information leading to additional clues.

"Murder in the Electric Cathedral" earns points for convincing acting, meticulous directing, well-scripted dialogue, sharp fashion and beautiful segue music.

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