Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Seal of the Confessional 

Cabot Cove's new priest finds himself in a sticky situation when a murderer confesses their crime and he recruits Jessica to help him uncover the truth without violating his oath of silence.


Vincent McEveety


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 3 more credits »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Bonnie Bartlett ... Marilyn North
Hunt Block ... Father Donald Barnes
Alan Feinstein ... George Woodward
Robert Horton ... Jack Hutchings
Lance Kerwin ... Eddie Frayne
Ron Masak ... Sheriff Mort Metzger
Madlyn Rhue ... Doris West
Jennifer Runyon ... Kelly Barrett
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Will Nye ... Deputy Floyd
Jon Cedar ... Evan West
Jerry Potter Jerry Potter ... Joe
Mimi Cozzens ... Jimmie
Steve Peterson Steve Peterson ... Investigator


Father Donald Barnes meets Jessica on the Cabot Cove beach, where he minds Eddie Frayne, who she once tutored as an English teacher, only presenting himself as a teacher. Soon after, in his capacity of parish priest ad interim (the incumbent is on sabbatical), he hears confession from a murderer, businessman Evan West's step-daughter. After his corpse is found on the beach, the priest can't come forth with any identification or details, only acknowledge Jessica's hints toward the arrested suspect, Eddie, didn't confess. So it's up to her, alone, to dig in the family's sordid past and come up with more relevant facts than the penitent girl realized. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 October 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 the vow of silence or the bond between the priest and the confessor about the deeds that are revealed during the Roman Catholic Rite of Confession. See more »


Sheriff Mort Metzger: I don't know how you do it, ma'am.
Jessica Fletcher: Excuse me?
Sheriff Mort Metzger: Well, I get a call on my radio, and within five minutes, I'm down here. Doc gets a call, 10 minutes later, he's here checkin' out the corpse. What I don't get, Mrs. F, is who calls you.
Jessica Fletcher: Well, nobody, actually, I...
Sheriff Mort Metzger: What, do you just have a sixth sense about these things?
See more »

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User Reviews

Forgive Me, Father, for Stabbing, Shoving, Drowning, and Fireplace Pokering
11 September 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the most recent appearance, to date, of 1950's and 60's star Robert Horton.

Serving as English instructor at Saint Ignatius School, in Lewistown, Maine, Father Donald Barnes (Hunt Block) eagerly accepts a temporary position as parish priest to substitute for the vacationing Father Malloy, in Cabot Cove.

Donald doesn't stand upon ceremony in greeting townsfolk or playing sports with the youth of the community, but he takes his pastoral responsibilities seriously, by maintaining strict confidence when someone confesses to murder, before the body is discovered.

Kelly Barrett (Jennifer Runyon) has returned to Cabot Cove, a few years after transferring to Crane Academy, in Vermont, after completing 10th grade in Cabot Cove, upon the then remarriage of her mother, Doris West (Madlyn Rhue) to Evan West (Jon Cedar). Evan couldn't possibly replace Mr. Barrett in Kelly's estimation, but in Doris', Evan fit in well with her assets, including her modern residence and yacht.

An immobile Doris West's stable of supporters include Nurse Marilyn North (Bonnie Bartlett), Attorney George Woodward (Alan Feinstein), and schoolteacher Jack Hutchings (Robert Horton), a longstanding friend of the family.

When special needs youngster Eddie Frayne (Lance Kerwin) discovers a knife near the place in which a body is discovered, fisherman Joe (Jerry Potter) recognizes it.

Donald attempts to share clues of Eddie's innocence with Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), without breaking the "Seal of the Confessional," causing Jessica difficulty in communicating her suspicions with Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak).

Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom), Deputy Floyd McCallum (Will Nye), and waitress Jennie (Mimi Cozzens) round out the cast of this Mystery, which, for Jessica, proves not as simple as it may seem.

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