Columbo (1971) s01e02 Episode Script

Ransom for a Dead Man

Les, I'll tape a memo for you on the Bronson matter tomorrow.
As far as the Delfor Incorporation suit is concerned they've got me.
As far as I can see they're holding firm, They want 300,000 dollars, and they want delivery tomorrow night They've got me.
Leslie, I thought Hello, Pat.
About our tennis date I know.
I've been very forgetful lately.
Please call me at the office tomorrow at 12:15 sharp.
Just say "tennis" and I'll remember to put it on my office calendar.
All right Pat.
When did you sustain these injuries, Mr.
Crowell? This September 16, Friday, You were admitted to a hospital for emergency care on that night? Yes, I was.
John's Hospital, Santa Monica.
Your Honor, I would like to introduce these hospital records as Exhibit A.
Crowell, what was the extent of your injuries due to your fall? My back was hurt real bad.
Objection, Your Honor.
The plaintiff is not competent to give expert medical testimony.
I would like to introduce Exhibit B.
A full doctor's report on the plaintiff's condition, showing damage to the lumbar region of the spine with concomitant nerve damage resulting in partial paralysis to the left side of his body.
Did you find out anything? No one's seen or heard from him since he left Phoenix.
Did you check the hospitals? I've had Nancy calling all morning.
Not a thing.
What about the police? Zero.
Shall we Let me think about it for a while.
Irrelevant and immaterial.
The answer may go out.
Shall we put out a missing person's report? I'll do it myself, after lunch.
How goes it here? We have a nice middle class jury.
Their dislike of the insurance companies is second only to their distaste for working class people.
Crowell, you are a punch press operator, is that correct? Have you ever been on welfare before? Objection.
That night that you fell down the stairs in the defendant's apartment house, where had you been prior to your accident? At a cafe across the street.
In point of fact, Mr.
Crowell, according to the bartender there, you had at least three drinks, and no dinner, before you left the cafe, and returned to your apartment.
And not being able to see the stairwell steps properly, you fell.
Objection, Your Honor.
Councel is testifying and assuming facts not in evidence.
The plaintiff alleges the stairs were improperly lit.
Although the plaintiff may well have been.
Court will be recessed until one o'clock.
I've convinced my client to discuss a possible settlement.
I'm sure you have.
My office, in 10 minutes? Mine at 12:30.
It looks good.
Very good.
I'll get your insurance company off the hook cheaply this time.
I've been all over that building of yours and you'd better start maintaining in minimum safety standards or the next time somebody may get killed.
Hi, Mrs.
Williams, Michael.
Have you heard anything? There's still no word from Mr.
I've tried everywhere.
Thank you Nancy.
Bring in your pad.
We'd better outline a settlement, he'll be here soon.
What time do you have Michael? At last they're asking $150,000.
My guess is that he'll say that his client is ill and needs cash, and offer to settle for half.
And we'll tell him that his client is losing and he'll take what he can get which is nuisance value at $10,000.
That's hitting him pretty hard.
Les? One word, tennis.
Don't forget.
What? Who is this? Hello? What is it? You'd better call the police.
That man on the phone said he's got my husband.
I want men posted here and here.
But keep them out sight.
I don't want a lot of worried neighbors calling the police every 5 minutes.
Hoffman, this is Carlson.
We don't want any press leaks on this.
Now listen, I don't want to have to add up all the favors you owe me.
And I'm sure you don't want me to either.
We'll stay out of the papers for the time being Mrs.
Thank you.
Is that tap in ready? Not quite yet, sir.
We'll be able to monitor any phone calls that come in through this Mrs.
Will you be able to trace the calls? Maybe.
Unfortunately the kidnapper is usually smart enough to keep the calls short so we won't have the time.
But with this tape we can make voice prints at the lab.
That sometimes gives us a lead on making identifications.
There's something I have to ask you, I want you to be completely honest with me.
Of course.
After I pay the ransom, what are the chances of my getting my husband back? All right, I'll be honest with you Mrs.
There's no way of knowing.
All we can do is hope for the best.
We'll do everything we possibly can.
Oh, of course you will.
I know that.
Look Mrs.
Let's try to take an optimistic point of view on this? He's probably just fine.
You'll have him with you in another 24 hours.
That's all I want.
Excuse me.
Yes, I'll hold.
Williams? Lieutenant Columbo.
Local police.
I seem to have dropped my pen out here somewhere.
Just a minute.
Would you like some help? Oh, no, that won't be necessary, thank you very much.
I'll just take another quick look I can get a flashlight.
Oh really, don't bother.
It's all right.
I've got some matches.
It's no trouble.
Oh really, it's not that important, it's just a pen.
You see, it was engraved, that was the only reason.
But I'll buy another one and I'll have that one engraved.
You see the pen itself was worthless Is that it? Where? There.
Is everything all right Mrs.
Williams? Lieutenant Columbo's lost his pen.
Oh listen, don't bother him about it.
Lieutenant Columbo? Oh yes.
How do you do? How are you? Uh, Mrs.
Williams, I think that we can forget about the pen now.
Would you like me to get you a flashlight? No really, it's not that important.
That last call was from the police.
They found your husband's car.
Was there any sign of violence? None whatsoever.
How do you suppose they stopped it? The car was found near a stop sign.
So we assume that when your husband pulled up to the intersection, the kidnappers found the opportunity Uh, Mr.
Carlson, there's a gentleman here to see you.
Oh, Lieutenant.
Yes, gentlemen this is Lieutenant Columbo, our local police liaison.
How do you do? As I was saying, the stop sign suggests that you Is there something we can do for you Lieutenant? Uh, well I dropped by to tell you that they found the car.
We already have that information.
I can see that.
How's the tap in coming? Not yet.
Feel perfectly free to stay if you like Lieutenant.
Oh, thank you very much.
Jerry, I'd like you to get a man Check out the houses in the area where the car was found.
Somebody may have seen something or heard something last night.
Start from Sunset and work your way up.
Oh, and Hammond, be sure to get the lab report on the briefcase and the luggage found in the car.
Carlson, do you suppose that the kidnappers followed him all the way from Phoenix? Well, I doubt that Mrs.
But they must have known when he left Phoenix.
That's what makes us think that they may have had someone there checking out the time of departure.
You see if that's true, they could notify their confederates here and they could The Lieutenant would like to see the ransom note.
Mmm? Oh, oh certainly.
Do you know exactly what time your husband would've left Phoenix? Excuse me.
May I see the envelope please.
No, no, I didn't.
Neither did anyone in my office.
Hammond, which police garage would they have taken the car to? Downtown.
I'll arrange for our people to run a set of fingerprints.
You know, strange thing Mrs.
When you look at the route your husband must have taken What is that? An aerial map? Oh, I see.
What's it for? It came with the instructions from the kidnappers.
Oh, they sent instructions? What were they? Well, Mrs.
Williams is to fly alone north along this highway.
When she reaches this point on the map, she takes a heading out across the desert.
Now, there'll be a flashing light signal right about there, and the money is to be dropped in a bag.
The usual warnings.
No cops.
When is the drop? That we don't know.
Like it says, they'll call us tonight.
Now listen Miller, the victim's car has been picked up by the LAPD.
They've got it in the downtown garage.
What I want you do to is run a fingerprint check on it for us, will you? You fly a plane? By yourself? No kidding.
No kidding.
Yeah, they'll probably give you a little static but We're going on the basis that the victim crossed the state line Excuse me.
How's it going? Fine, fine.
Be through in a few minutes.
We'll have to wait till he gets off the phone before we can check it out.
Well you let me know if you have any problems.
Can I help you Lieutenant? No.
Just browsing.
For anything in particular? Because if there's anything you'd like, I'd be only too happy to help.
Thank you very much.
Williams? Uh men's room? Oh the powder room is up those steps, down the hall and first door on your right.
Have you got that? First door on your right.
It'll be ready in a minute Mr.
One, two, three, four House is cold.
I must say Mrs.
Williams, you're bearing up through this very well indeed.
It may seem like it, but if it weren't for you.
Well, that's very kind of you Mrs.
But we just do what we can, that's all.
You're very modest.
Tell me, do you think you'll find any trace of fingerprints in the car? Frankly, I doubt it.
It's a very professional, well planned operation.
See they knew what time your husband was coming from out of town, They know about you flying a plane.
Now, I think the only fingerprints we'll find will be your husband's.
And yours of course.
Did you find it Lieutenant? Oh yes, very well ma'am.
Thank you.
Listen I have to tell you Mrs.
Williams that you've got some beautiful place here.
You just make yourself at home.
Say you know the soap you have in the bathroom? The ones shaped like little lemons? Well I was almost afraid to use them.
But that's what they're there for Lieutenant, to be used.
Well if you don't mind my asking when you use one and you put it back in the plate, how do you keep it from sticking to the others? It's a problem.
That's what I figured.
Do you know what I think? I think, since we're all going to be waiting here, that I'm going to fix us all dinner.
Oh, that won't be necessary Mrs.
We can have something sent in.
Oh please, let me do it, it will keep me busy.
All right, thank you.
Williams? Don't you have any live in servants? Oh, must be the same problem everywhere.
If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself.
How is that, Lieutenant? Oh, I was just saying, you pay a lot of money for help and you end up doing the cooking.
Well you see, my housekeeper's been on vacation for the last week, so Oh I see.
So you've been here alone.
Well listen, if there's anything I can do to help peel potatoes, whatever, you just feel free.
Oh you'll be the first to know.
Les? Mrs.
Williams? Paul? They've got me.
They want When? Tomorrow night.
Just follow instructions.
Paul! Paul! Play it back.
Make sure we got all of it.
That's this way.
From this point on the highway to here over a 150 miles of desert.
No way we can cover all of it.
- Les.
- Paul? They've got me.
They want 300,000 dollars.
Tomorrow night.
Just follow instructions.
I'm not going to take any chances with my husband's life.
There's nothing to worry about Mrs.
We'll arrange to have you followed by helicopter.
Give you plenty of room.
I know you will.
I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to sound like that.
It's quite all right Mrs.
Williams, we understand how you feel.
I think I'll go upstairs.
I'll be in my room if you want me.
That's a good idea.
We'll be covering the place all night so you rest easy.
All right, that's it for tonight fellas.
Let's wrap it up and go home.
I'll get this tape to the lab right away.
- Good night, sir.
- Good night.
Check with you in the morning.
Well Lieutenant, I guess that's it for tonight.
Lieutenant? Let's call it a night huh? Oh I'm sorry.
Thinking there.
Unique woman.
What's that? I say she's an exceptional woman.
What do you mean? Well when the phone rang she ran to the phone, she picked up the receiver and She never asked her husband if he was all right.
I don't see anything strange about that.
The woman was frightened under stress.
That's right.
She was.
She was under stress.
See I just can't help thinking that If I was in the hands of kidnappers and my wife didn't ask me if I was okay, I'd think about that.
What's your point, Lieutenant? Point? No point.
Just that she's a unique person.
Good night, Lieutenant.
Now if you'll just initial here and sign here.
On all three copies.
We got all the serial numbers? Yes, sir.
The bank was very cooperative in helping us mark the money.
We certainly appreciate your help.
You're welcome.
Apart from your savings, trust accounts and municipal bonds, we naturally were forced to sell all of your stocks at a considerable loss.
I'm sorry, but there was no other alternative.
I know that, Mr.
Perkins, but this is no time to worry about money.
Of course, Mrs.
I brought a bag, Mrs.
Oh thank you.
That won't be necessary.
I have a bag.
This should do it.
If you don't need me any longer, gentlemen.
Thanks again.
Williams? We've got a priority clearance on that air corridor marked on the map.
You'll be all by yourself.
What about you? We'll be holding a position about 2 miles behind you.
You promise to keep your people clear of the area.
The Highway Patrol Units all have their instructions.
If they spot a car picking up the money, they just make an identification and then let it pass.
Chances are they'll get the money and clear out before anyone gets a chance to get near them.
So I wouldn't worry too much about that Mrs.
I'm concerned about my husband's life.
Of course.
If you gentlemen will excuse me, I'll change.
All set, Mrs.
Williams? I'm ready.
All right.
Let's go.
You ride in the rear.
Certainly, certainly.
When you want to talk, press this button.
When you want to listen, just release it.
You're clear 835 Romeo.
What was that? What was what? I think there's something wrong with the motor.
Take it easy Lieutenant.
Everything's just fine.
This is 835 Romeo.
We read you 835 Romeo.
I'm approaching north bound freeway and descending to 1000 feet.
Air speed 150.
We're holding a position on your heading.
Air speed 150.
How much further is it? How much further is it? How much further is it? She'll notify us as she approaches the Palmdale turnoff.
Is that near? Do you see that highway down there to your right? Yes I do.
She'll be heading off across the desert from the next coordinates.
This is 835 Romeo.
Approaching coordinates.
Begin new heading 20 degrees northwest.
We read you.
Air speed at 150.
This is 33 Foxtrot to all ground units.
We're approaching the Palmdale turnoff.
Maintain radio silence until visual contact is established.
This is 835 Romeo.
835 Romeo.
I've established visual contact with a light at spot access road by coordinates 28.
We read you.
Circling now to make drop.
This is 33 Foxtrot to special highway patrol units 12 and 22.
Move toward access road near map coordinates 28.
Drop completed.
Over and out.
They got it.
Any sign of them? No, sir.
There's a highway only half a mile that way with a lot of heavy traffic.
They must have gotten lost in that before we even got here.
We knew that going in, didn't we? Mr.
Want to look at this? All right, let's go home.
Lieutenant Columbo.
Let's go.
Hey Lieutenant.
Lieutenant, I'll take that.
Are you coming, Lieutenant? No, why don't you go ahead.
I'm going to take a little walk clear my head, you know what I mean.
How is my father? What are you doing here? How is he? Have you heard from him? No, not yet.
But you paid the kidnappers the ransom money.
When will they bring him back? We don't know.
I uh I wasn't expecting you.
After I got your cable, I caught the first plane out of Zurich.
There was only a 30 minute layover.
You didn't have to come.
What you mean is you didn't want me to.
What I mean is that there's nothing for you to do here.
Let's drop the polite charade Leslie.
I hate you as much as you hate me.
Maybe more.
And you don't have to play the martyred stepmother to me anymore.
I've outgrown that.
So you see, all the expensive education in Switzerland isn't a total loss.
Margaret, we're both tired, we're both upset.
I'm sure neither of us wants to say anything they don't mean that we may be sorry for later.
Why don't we get some sleep? Tomorrow may be a long day.
Margaret, I'm worried.
I love him too.
I haven't been able to sleep.
I'm terribly nervous.
Margaret, I'm afraid.
I don't want anything to happen to him.
I know, I know.
Don't worry.
Don't worry.
A little early for the late show.
No calls? Except to say they haven't heard anything.
They've got fuzz of some kind out on the street watching the house.
Federal agents.
There's nothing in the paper about Daddy or the kidnappers.
We've kept it out of the press and off the radio and the television.
I was waiting for the news.
Where are you going? I have a date in court.
How can you do that? I mean, how can you function? It seems like a strange time to play lady lawyer.
Someday when you take on responsibilities, you'll find out that you don't always have a choice that you have to function, no matter what.
I guess I'm lucky I'm still irresponsible.
Because all I can think about is my father.
No more than I.
Why don't you try to occupy yourself with something Margaret, I mean something besides television and running up overseas telephone bills.
You might find it'll pass the time more quickly.
I'll call you the moment I hear anything.
Good luck.
With your case.
Thank you Margaret.
Now when their attorney cross examines you about the accident, cry.
About what? Everything.
Especially when he asks you how fast you were going when you hit their car.
Excuse me.
Just sit down there.
Give me the brief.
Have you found my husband? Can we talk to you privately for a moment? You can tell me here.
I think we'd better speak privately.
Just tell me.
Did you find my husband? Please Mrs.
Will you tell me.
Is he all right? Your husband is dead, Mrs.
Are you all right Mrs.
Williams? Give me a moment.
Can we get you a doctor? I'll arrange to have you driven home.
Get my bag and things.
I'm very sorry.
Did she ask where the body was? No.
I didn't think so.
Oh listen, one more thing Mr.
She didn't ask how her husband was killed, did she? No.
That's what I thought.
All right Lieutenant, what's bothering you now? No, nothing.
Something's bothering you.
It's just that up until now, you know she was very cool and she was very composed.
And she suddenly fell apart in front of other people.
I don't see anything so strange about that.
No? Convenient maybe? Conve look Columbo, if you think she had something to do with the kidnapping just come out and say so.
Look, I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to upset you.
You asked me what was bothering me and I told you.
Let's understand this one thing.
If you start harassing this woman, I'm going to take it upstairs.
Just one minute Mr.
You see it's like this.
This is not just a kidnapping.
This is a murder now.
And I kind of figure that's my department.
I'll see you around.
I gave Margaret an injection and put her to bed.
She'll be asleep soon.
Oh good.
Take two of those before you go to bed.
They put you out all night long.
Thank you.
I can't thank you enough.
Really, all of you.
I We'll let you get some rest now.
You're so brave.
Call me if you need me.
Good night darling.
Take care of yourself.
Williams, we'll be keeping a man on the house for the next few days.
Is there anything else we can do? No thank you.
- Good night.
- Good night.
Let us pray.
O Lord, we implore you to grant your dead mercy to this servant, That he who held fast to your will by his intentions, May not receive punishment in return for his deeds, So does the true faith united him with the throng of the faithful on earth, Your mercy may unite him with the company of the choirs of Angels in Heaven, through Christ our Lord.
Eternal rest grant upon him, O Lord, And let perpetual light shine on him.
May he rest in peace.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, Through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
My deepest sympathy to you Mrs.
I pray you be comforted.
God's peace be with you.
Leslie? Yes, Margaret? This is what you wanted, isn't it? Are you all right? I'm all right.
I'm all right.
It's nothing.
I'm all right.
Are you all right? Yes.
Thank you.
Who are you? I'm Lieutenant Columbo.
I'm from the local police.
If there's ever anything you want, you're not alone.
Remember, I'm always available.
You'd better come.
They're waiting for you.
I see now what you mean about her, Les.
She's spoiled and completely selfish.
No Pat, you can't blame her.
Paul and I both indulged her too much I guess.
It was our fault.
If she were mine, stepdaughter or not, I would kick her out right now, without a dime.
Pat, I think Les should get some rest.
Yes, I think so too.
You've got to make her grow up Les.
Are you all right? Yes I am now.
Thank you very much.
Goodbye Leslie.
I have to tell you how much I appreciate everything.
You have been such good friends.
Paul loved you.
He loved you all.
So do I.
We love you.
I'll call tomorrow.
Margaret! Margaret.
Come down here, please.
I know you're up there listening so you might as well come down.
You called, mother dear? I think we'd better have a talk.
Of course, mother dear.
Margaret, I'm willing to overlook the incident at the cemetery.
I'll write it off to adolescent hysteria.
But I am in no mood to tolerate any further outbursts, sarcasm, anything.
Of course.
You're making it very difficult for us to live together.
I think you should go back to school this weekend.
The school doesn't open for another month.
There's nobody there.
You have friends in Paris.
Visit them.
Leslie, I'm not going anywhere.
I'm staying right here.
Why? It's my home too.
Margaret, while we're on the subject of school, I think we'd better talk about something else.
Like what? Finances.
Your father, well, your father and I have kept you very sheltered from our financial affairs but now I think that you are ready to face certain realities.
I have my own trust account.
You did.
I won't bore you with the details, but since you're a minor, your father and I had joint control of that account.
What happened to it? In order to pay the ransom I was forced to close that account out, along with everything else that we had.
You're trying to tell me that we're broke.
Is that it? No, it's not as bad as all that.
My law practice and the firm will provide us with enough to keep us off the streets of Beverly Hills.
But there will have to be certain readjustments.
You mean my allowance.
That's a very good example.
How much of a readjustment? I don't know, I'll have to see what I can come up with.
I'll let you know.
In the meantime, while you're here for the next couple of weeks, why don't you try to find yourself a job? Pick up some extra cash.
Might come in handy.
May I help you? Lieutenant Columbo, I had an appointment.
Oh, of course.
Goodness, you're early.
I know.
How did you get in? Oh, the janitor was nice enough to let me in.
Williams should be here in a moment.
She's never late for an appointment.
Oh really? Me, I got this terrible habit.
I'm always early.
Whenever I have to be anywhere I get there ahead of time.
What, are you a legal secretary? Believe it or not, I'm an attorney.
I'm called an associate, which means that since the secretary phoned in sick, I have to fill in.
I don't know how you do it.
Do what? Work for a woman.
Well, it doesn't bother me.
It just so happens that she's one of the best trial attorneys in this state.
Good morning.
Good morning.
Have I kept you waiting? No, I was early.
Oh good.
Well, won't you come in? Shall I hold the calls? I'm sorry to bother you, the first day back and all.
That's all right Lieutenant.
I understand the federal people haven't come up with anything Nothing.
Not a word.
Not a clue.
Say, that's some telephone.
What are you You big on gadgets are you? No.
I just happen to find that one a great help.
You see, say that I want to get in touch with a client to be in court, say, Monday for example.
I just tape a message.
And this machine calls my client and does it for me.
Boy, that's really something.
You know, today they can do everything electronically.
I mean, if they wanted to.
I'd bet on that.
You don't mind if I take down the name of this, do you? I mean, maybe I could con the department into getting one for my office.
You have a pen? Thank you.
These things, they really fascinate me.
You know they got a new thing today.
Like if I want to take my wife to the ballgame, I just dial this service.
For the tickets.
And it's all done by computer.
It's really it's unbelievable.
What did you want to see me about Lieutenant exactly? Uh you see Mrs.
Williams, now that a murder has been committed, it's my job to look at this case from all possible angles.
I would think it would be your job to catch the kidnapper.
Oh, the federal agents are on that.
And of course we have our men on it too.
Very reassuring.
Yes it is.
Because they do a fine job.
But you see, the thing is with me uh I'm a strange guy.
Really? I worry.
I mean little things bother me.
I'm a worrier.
I mean Little insignificant details, I lose my appetite, I can't eat.
My wife she says to me, you know, you can really be a pain.
You know what I mean.
Yeah, I get the general picture.
Why don't you get on with it.
Oh yeah, sure.
Well you see there are certain things here about your husband's kidnapping that certain details that Does this lighter work? Well, they really nag me.
Such as? The bag, for instance.
Which bag? The one you dropped from the plane.
The one with the ransom money in it.
Didn't I say which bag it was? No,you didn't.
I'm sorry.
I thought I did.
What about the bag? I just thought it's funny that whoever took the money out of the bag, they didn't take the bag with them.
What's so funny about that? You figure a kidnapper, he's afraid to get caught so he's not likely to stop, open a bag, take the money out, then run away and leave the bag behind.
Well of course you know more than I do Lieutenant.
But don't people under stress act more out of immediate emotion than logic? That's absolutely true.
In fact, I'll go even further.
That's what does most criminals in eventually.
Well then isn't it safe to assume that they would open the bag to see if the money was there.
And then after they saw it, out of fear or panic, take the money out of the bag and run.
Yeah, that's probably right.
That's probably right.
I'm sure that is right.
I mean, I don't mean to defend my point about the bag I was just using that as an example to show you the kind of person I am.
You understand how details bother me.
In other words, I'm trying to show you a whatyoumacallit of mine, a An idiosyncrasy.
Gee, that's a good word.
Oh, one of the best.
Anything else? Uh, no.
I guess that's it.
Listen, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate that.
It certainly helped straighten things out in my mind.
Any time, Lieutenant.
Thank you again.
What? Something else? I don't know what's the matter with me.
One other thing.
The angle of the bullet.
What about it? Well, the bullet entered your husband's body at a 45 degree angle.
What's the significance in that? Well, that means your husband was standing, and See the way you're standing? Leslie, I thought Just the way you're standing.
You see just the way you're standing.
The killer was sitting just the way I am.
And from this position, the killer shot him.
I'm sorry.
Could you a little water on the table.
I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to upset you.
That's all right.
That's all right.
Please go on with what you were saying.
Listen, I can come back another time.
No, really.
I'm all right.
I want to hear.
Are you sure you're all right? There's not much else to say about it, it's just it's just another one of those things that bothers me.
I mean, what was your husband doing? Was he just standing there while some guy sitting down shot him? Well at this point, there's no way of really knowing what happened is there? Right.
You're right about that.
But the other thing that was peculiar There's something else? Your husband, he was shot with a.
22 caliber revolver.
Well most criminals, they use a.
32 or maybe a.
But this one was different.
It sure was.
And I tried to figure it.
Why a.
22? That's interesting.
Yes, you see, that is interesting.
What if he wanted to fire into someone, and be reasonably certain that the bullet didn't have the velocity to go through the body.
But why? Because he didn't want any trace of the crime in the room where he shot him.
Well, you've given these details of yours a lot of thought Lieutenant.
Listen, I know all these things don't seem like much.
Put them all together one on top of the other, and I'm telling you, that kidnapping just doesn't add up.
Let me understand you correctly.
Are you implying that this was perhaps not an ordinary kidnapping? That's right.
That's interesting, isn't it? Now what if someone set out to murder your husband, and he only made it look like a kidnapping? And so the ransom money, all that was a set up.
Yes, that's possible.
Look how that throws us off.
We're looking for kidnappers that don't exist.
And in the meantime the real killer is so close by we can't even see him.
And all these little details of yours fall into place.
The angle of the gun.
Shot by someone he knew while the murderer was sitting down.
The caliber of the bullet.
Killed in a room where he didn't want to leave any traces.
No bullet holes in the wall, for example.
The empty bag? That's a puzzler.
I can't figure that one out yet.
Lieutenant, in all honesty, I must tell you you have collected one of the most absurd hypotheses I have ever heard.
Nothing that you've said proves anything, one way or another.
I know that.
I'm not a lawyer.
And maybe my theories are not as good as they should be.
But Mrs.
Williams, I've been a cop for a long, long time.
And after a few years, believe me, the old nose gets to be pretty good.
What do you want from me? You know how you could help me? If you would just talk to me about your husband, yourself, and maybe I can come up with somebody, a business associate, a friend Who knows? But somebody who might have a motive to kill him.
And if you can't? Federal men are working on the kidnapping.
There's no harm done.
Lieutenant, I don't hold with this murder theory of yours.
Williams, you're perfectly within your rights.
Lieutenant, let me finish.
But I will do whatever I can to help you.
Whoever it was killed my husband, for whatever reason, I want him found.
I was hoping you'd say that.
Michael, Lieutenant Columbo and I will be at the airport if you need us.
Why will we be there? I try to get in a few hours flying at least 2 days a week, and this is one of those days.
Besides, I feel as if I want to get away from here.
Come with me, we'll talk.
Where? In the plane? Lieutenant, are you afraid of flying? Well, it's not one of my favorite pastimes.
It's a great release for me being up here Lieutenant.
All alone.
Totally free.
I do some of my best thinking up here.
No kidding.
No kidding.
Williams, would you not do that? You're nervous.
No offense.
I'm like this in a car.
I'm always nervous when I'm not driving.
Would you like to take over? I beg your pardon? I could teach you how to handle the plane in an hour.
Oh yes, well, really that would be wasted on me.
I don't intend to fly again.
You make me feel terrible.
Flying is a wonderful experience.
I've ruined it for you.
No, you haven't.
I've never been crazy about flying actually.
That's because you've never done it.
What we don't know, we fear.
Take the controls.
No, I'd rather not, thank you.
Try it.
I want you to feel what happens.
Really, that's very, very kind of you, and I appreciate that.
Why don't you just describe it to me? I want to show you how easy it is Lieutenant.
Are you ready? Ready for what? Here we go.
You take the controls.
That's a mountain up ahead.
What do I do? Turn the wheel to the left.
Keep your feet off the rudder pedal, pull back on the wheel Lieutenant.
No, no, not too much.
Not too much.
You've overcorrected.
Keep the plane's nose up.
You see you have to treat the plane like a woman.
You have to treat it gently.
You have to treat her very gently.
See? Watch out for that peak.
Pull it up.
Pull it up.
Come on, Lieutenant.
Up Up Up.
Pull it up.
That was brilliant, Lieutenant.
You're going to make an ace pilot.
Like it? I'd appreciate it if we didn't talk for a while.
Can you talk yet? Not yet.
Ready? Ask me anything, I'll try to help you any way I can.
Did you ever teach your husband how to fly? No, he wouldn't learn.
Any other questions? Well Mrs.
Williams, did your husband have any personal enemies? He didn't have any personal enemies.
Everyone admired my husband.
And he was respected by his fellow attorneys.
They elected him president of the local bar association for five consecutive years.
But you know sometimes behind the applause, there might be somebody who's envious, somebody who resents all that success.
If there was such a person I never met him.
What else? Uh this is not an easy question.
You understand that? Go on.
Did your husband ever have any other relationships with any other women? My husband was never unfaithful to me.
How do you know that? How can you be sure? Because he had a rigid code of ethics from which he never deviated.
He must have been quite a man.
There was nobody like him.
I'm sorry I can't be of more help to you.
No, it's all right.
You've been of help.
This is a process of elimination, you understand that? No other questions? No, I guess not.
Then we'll head back.
You all right? Yeah.
I'm fine.
Did you enjoy yourself? Well, it was quite an experience.
I mean, I know what you mean now about relaxing up there.
Because when I first started out I was very tense, but now Anytime.
Anytime Lieutenant.
Say, you know I have this cousin Ralph, his name is Ralph.
Anyway, Ralph was the greatest at everything, you know, I mean, he thought better, he talked better, he made out better.
Ralph was the greatest.
I mean Ralph, boy.
that Ralph was something.
I'll tell you that.
I'll never forget him.
Is there a point to this story Lieutenant? - A point? - A point.
No I don't think there's a point, except, maybe, you know, maybe what it was is that when you were talking about your husband in the plane I guess that reminded me of Ralph.
You see, because Ralph, he was a bore.
I mean, he was so perfect there were times I felt like killing him.
Yes, well I have to change now Lieutenant.
That's all fellas.
My mind is some place else.
Hey Lieutenant.
What do you say, Bert.
What's the use of kicking.
You know what's your trouble? You don't have much imagination.
What do you mean by that? You always look at the menu and you always order chili.
My god, you know, that's true.
What'll it be? I'll have the chili, Bert.
See what I mean? Well, look at it this way.
You'll never be disappointed.
Hey, you got something there.
All right Bullet, chili, for the Lieutenant and make it special.
Lieutenant Columbo? I'm Margaret Williams.
You remember me? Oh yes, of course.
I just didn't expect to see you here.
Listen, try the chili, you won't be sorry.
Lieutenant, I came to see you.
What? What about? My father's murder.
Listen, I'm terribly sorry about that.
We just haven't been able to come up with anything on that.
Well I may have something.
Are you sure you won't have something to eat? Lieutenant this is very important.
I'm sorry.
Go ahead.
I'm listening.
Could we move to that booth over there? Certainly.
You see, it's the crackers that make the dish.
I think my stepmother may have had something to do with it.
You realize what you're saying? Then tell me.
She never loved him.
She used him to get what she wanted for herself, a career.
She used his name, his influence, so that she could become the famous lady lawyer.
And to be a partner with my father was instant stature.
Instant success.
When did all this start? Did this start while your mother was still alive? Yes.
But he didn't have an affair with her.
How can you be sure of that? I knew him.
He was faithful to my mother all through those last years while she was dying.
When did they get together romantically? After my mother died.
She talked him into leaving the State Supreme Court.
Something he'd worked for all his life but he left it.
Because he wanted to be with her.
Is that when they became partners? That was the bait.
He did that for her, so she married him.
Why would she want to see him dead? My father came to visit me in Switzerland during last vacation.
Then he told me what a fool he'd been.
How she finally told him that she thought he was a bore, a dull, tiresome old man, and she wanted a new arrangement.
He started to cry.
I'd never seen him cry before.
He was to quit the firm, turn it over to her.
Then they were to live their separate lives.
She didn't ask for a divorce.
Just that they share the house and nothing more.
He could never stomach living a lie like that and he told her so.
She just laughed at him.
I put my arm around him.
I didn't know what else to do.
So what did he do? He threatened to throw her out and close down the office.
He dared to stand up to her.
I think that's why he was killed.
Well, now look Margaret.
You've told me some reasons why maybe your stepmother might have a motive.
But they're all true.
I didn't say they weren't.
But you don't have any proof of anything.
And you don't have any evidence.
All you have is your assumptions.
You understand? Besides, how could she do it? What would she do? Involve some other people? That would be very risky wouldn't it? Now you see, the only possible way would be No.
No that's crazy.
What is it? It just occurred to me that the only possible way would be if somehow, there never was a kidnapping.
She killed him.
Then set it up to look that way.
I never said that.
I mean, that's a crazy idea.
Forget that idea.
Lieutenant how do you go about proving something like that? Oh goodness.
I don't know how to do that.
Listen, I think you got a crazy idea there.
I think you ought to forget about it.
Well, I'll be in touch with you Lieutenant.
All right.
All right.
You know, there might be something in the position of the car seat.
Did you say something? I said there might be something in the position of the car seat.
What car seat? Your father's car.
You know the night they picked up your father's car, somebody noticed that the car seat had been moved forward.
I don't understand.
Well, your father is a very tall man isn't he? I mean he's six foot or better.
Whoever drove that car last, they had moved the seat forward.
Like a woman? Could be.
And of course there's your father's keys.
What about them? We never found them.
The keys weren't in the car.
And later on, when we found your father's body, the keys weren't on the body either.
So? Did you ever notice how just out of habit, when you get out of a car, you automatically reach for the keys? You see, the last person out of that car instinctively took the keys with them.
And may still have them.
Police department? I'd like to speak to Lieutenant Columbo, please.
What is it? I got the telephone call, I came right over.
I didn't call you.
I know that.
It was your stepdaughter Margaret.
How did you get in here? She said she was going to leave the door open.
I don't understand.
Why? Why did she call you? She said she had something to show me.
Margaret! You want me? Yes.
Lieutenant Columbo is here to see you.
I think he's here to see both of us.
Are you? I thought he might like to know that I found these keys.
My father's keyring.
And in your bedroom.
Margaret, you say these are your father's keys? Lieutenant could you explain the importance of these keys? It isn't at all clear to me.
Well, you see Mrs.
Williams, it goes like this.
The keys were not in the car and were not on your husband's body, So we were wondering what happened to them.
My father was never kidnapped.
He came home that night and you killed him.
Oh, Margaret.
You really don't know what you're talking about.
Yes I do! Oh, Lieutenant, I can't do anything with her It's true.
You killed him.
It's true.
Lieutenant you know it's true.
Now, wait a minute.
Just one moment.
Go sit down.
Sit down in that chair.
Listen to me Margaret.
What you're saying might mean something except for one point.
These are not your father's keys.
Margaret I've had the house watched, And you had a locksmith up here yesterday.
And I've got an invoice of every duplicate key you had made.
Now I'm going to overlook what you did this time, But I want you to remember something.
Forging evidence is a crime.
But she killed him.
There is no proof of that.
She did it.
I know it.
And you know it.
No, I don't know it.
Yes, you do! Young lady, don't you ever do that again.
How could she think a thing like that Lieutenant? I always knew that she resented me.
But I never thought that she would go this far.
I'm going to have to tell you the truth Mrs.
I knew how she felt.
You see the fact is she came to me the other day and she told me that she thought you were involved.
I told her it was a far fetched idea.
Yes, but you did manage to tell her about the missing keys.
You never mentioned them to me.
That wasn't among those little details that was bothering you so much.
Well, now, Mrs.
Williams, if by some remote chance your stepdaughter had been right, it wouldn't have been very smart for me to have told you now would it? I understand.
Good afternoon Mrs.
Lieutenant Columbo.
Thank you for straightening Margaret out.
I appreciate it.
Oh, it was the only thing I could do.
I mean I just can't have you accused of murder on the wrong evidence.
I know you did it.
I know it.
I think you ought to see a doctor Margaret.
Do you? Yes I do.
I think you're a very sick girl.
Are you listening? Yes, but it's very difficult because I'm so sick.
Margaret why don't you go back to Switzerland? I'll put you up at a hotel until school opens.
I'm staying right here.
You listen to me.
You stay here only as long as you behave.
One more little drama and I will not only cut off your allowance, I will tie up your estate.
You will be on social security before you see a nickel of it.
Where will all your friends be then Margaret? When you haven't the money to buy them anymore? Mrs.
This is Lieutenant Columbo.
Williams, I was wondering if I might drop by to see you.
I've got something to show you, I think you'll really appreciate it.
It's for you.
Some stunt huh? You know, I remembered how you liked gadgets, I thought you'd get a kick out of it.
You know, something you could show at parties.
Something to amuse your friend with.
Like that.
Would you like to tell me how you did it.
Oh, there was nothing to it.
I got one of these special phones of yours, I got a tape machine and I got a timer and I rigged it up And that was it.
I'm very busy Lieutenant.
Would you like to tell me what this has to do with my husband's murder? You see, I can't get anything past you.
You really got me pegged.
Well I'll tell you what it is.
It just shows that your husband could have been dead at the time of the phone call.
That his voice could've come from carefully edited tapes from your office.
You know Columbo, you're almost likeable in a shabby sort of way.
Maybe it's the way you come slouching in here with your shopworn bag of tricks.
Me? Tricks? The humility, the seeming absentmindedness, the homey anecdotes about the family, the wife, you know? Really? Yeah, Lieutenant Columbo, fumbling and stumbling along.
But it's always the jugular that he's after.
And I imagine that more often than not he's successful.
I appreciate that compliment Mrs.
And I particularly appreciate it coming from you.
I must tell you, I'm disappointed in you Lieutenant, I'm really very disappointed.
How's that? You've reduced yourself from veiled threats and insinuations to vaudeville.
Now what did you really expect to achieve by this tasteless stunt? Did you expect me to throw myself at your feet confessing? No.
No, I didn't think you'd do that.
Well then what good did it do? I just add it up with all the other details.
And after a while you're able to see what really might have happened.
Might have, could have, those aren't phrases that hold up in court.
You'd be thrown out for lack of evidence.
Yeah, but you know justice is strange Counselor.
With some people it's not enough just to be acquitted.
With some people it's also necessary to convince the public by producing the guilty party as well.
I'm familiar with the Perry Mason school of justice, Lieutenant.
It's not a bad tactic.
Threaten to ruin my reputation by accusation.
Create a doubt about me.
But then, there's always the other side.
I could always show that you were hounding me, maliciously persecuting me.
You're playing a weak hand Lieutenant.
Either arrest me or get out of here.
I'm going to have to tell you the truth.
The department took me off the case.
There's just nothing concrete, nothing to give to a DA.
There's a murder out in Malibu they want me to look into.
And you couldn't bear to leave without saying goodbye huh? That's right.
That's right.
After all that, I almost forgot to say it.
Goodbye Mrs.
Goodbye Lieutenant.
How do you like it Leslie? Just giving you the same kind of welcome home you gave my father.
Stop Leslie.
The first one was a blank.
But who knows.
The next one may be the real thing.
Margaret, just let me go by.
Just There's nothing in that gun.
There's nothing.
- Nothing in that gun! - Margaret! My father was never kidnapped.
He came home that night and you killed him! I know you did it.
I know it.
I know it.
Margaret! Is that what you want? Out! Out! I want you out of this house tonight! Even if you throw me out Leslie, I won't stop.
I'll hound you, humiliate you, embarrass you.
Get packed! You used all of my trust account to pay the ransom.
And now you think you can get away with my share of the estate too? You're not going to get away with it.
I want what's mine.
You want to negotiate, don't you? I just want what's coming to me.
I'll give you 20,000 a year for That will take you into your trust.
My trust account was for 25 a year.
Plus a bonus of 5,000.
All in cash.
You are some little girl.
All right.
If you're on the plane tomorrow.
Excuse me.
I have a lot of packing to do.
When you arrive at Zurich, Mr.
Steiner will meet you at the airport.
He'll take you to the bank and open an account for you.
Goodbye Margaret.
Goodbye Leslie.
Lieutenant Columbo.
Pursuing or extraditing? No.
Just waiting.
You seem depressed.
Did a criminal get away? Come on, I'll buy you a drink for consolation.
I hate to see you unhappy.
You know, that's very nice of you.
I have a heart.
I do.
- Yes.
- What will you have Lieutenant? After you.
I'll have a root beer.
A root beer? Lieutenant you always manage to make me feel decadent.
I do? Gee, I never knew that.
I'm sorry It's nothing personal, you understand that.
I understand.
I'm going to miss you Lieutenant.
You and all your fascinating little details.
You know, you're something.
You really are something.
I'm going to try and take that as a compliment.
Oh, it is.
Is it? Believe me.
To you.
Here's looking at you, Mrs.
You know, for a while there I thought I'll never get her.
All those little details, they just didn't make it.
There was nothing conclusive.
And then I thought, it's gotta be the money.
What money? The ransom money.
When a person engineers a false kidnapping, they have to have the money hidden somewhere.
Now it cleaned you out to raise the ransom.
So I thought I gotta find a way to force her to use the ransom money.
Thank you very much.
You know and it seemed like a nutty idea to everybody, I know it did to my wife.
But I believed in it because Mrs.
Williams, you have no conscience.
And that's your weakness.
Did it ever occur to you that there are very few people that would take money to forget about a murder? It didn't, did it.
I knew it wouldn't.
No conscience.
Limits your imagination.
You can't conceive of anybody being any different than what you are.
And you're greedy.
And that's why, as bright as you are, and you're bright you believed that Margaret could be bought.
Get to the point.
Come on.
Get to the point.
Well, here's the point Mrs.
You see.
You were set up.
I arranged it all with Margaret.
I told Margaret that if she really wanted to nail you, she had to force you to use the ransom money.
You're very lucky Lieutenant.
You're very smart.
So are you.
Thank you.
Forgive the charade about the briefcase.
But we had to make sure that the money was in there before we arrested you.
I had no alternative.
Would you like to finish your sherry? I don't think I want it any more.
Would you advise Mrs.
Williams of her rights and drive her downtown? That'll be a dollar 10 please.
Oh yeah Be with you in one minute.
Would you mind if I signed for this? I'm from the police Lieutenant Columbo.
I guess that'll be all right.
Oh, thank you very much.