The Rockford Files (1974) s02e08 Episode Script

Resurrection in Black & White

She didn't get shoved off a cliff, because she wasrt supposed to get shoved off a cliff.
Are you saying someone tried to hurt Susan? Why's somebody trying to take you off? Because I've been nosing around the Dave Kruger case.
You don't want a detective.
You want a bodyguard.
Chicken? Well, of course.
Goes without saying.
But you're a private investigator.
Why don't you carry a gun? Because I don't want to shoot anybody.
I thought you didn't like to shoot people.
I don't shoot it.
I just point it.
Did you get through to Becker? Yeah.
He said he'd get as much help as he can.
We got a boat angling in on us.
This is Jim Rockford.
At the tone, leave your name and message.
I'll get back to you.
Hey, Jimmy, it's Cousin Lou.
Gonna be in town a couple of days, know you won't mind putting us up.
It's just me and Aunt Cissy, and B.
J.
, and the kids, and little Freddy, and Mr.
Hummel, I got a letter from your computer today.
It was very cordial, very nice.
It's short.
I wanna read it to you.
"Dear Mr.
Rockford.
"Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.
"We have located the missing invoice, "photocopy of which is enclosed.
" Mr.
Hummel, nothing was enclosed.
Yeah.
Come in.
Yeah.
Oh, I'll be right with you.
Yeah.
Mr.
Hummel, let me put it to you this way.
You do a dandy two-step, but I'm tired of dancing.
Now, it's been three months.
No invoice, no payment.
It's a computer foul-up.
Jim Rockford.
I know.
I'm Susan Alexander.
Well, what can I do for you? I'm a feature writer with Henton Publications, and I'm doing an article on penology.
Six and a half years ago, a man named Dave Kruger was convicted of murder.
He's serving a life sentence.
Now, I think he's innocent and I want you to help me prove it.
After six and a half years? I only became aware of the case a month ago.
That's how I met Dave.
And springing him would sell a lot of magazines.
Yes, it would.
But if it meant a drop in circulation, I'd still be determined to clear him.
Why? Because I don't believe people should be in prison for crimes they didn't commit.
I don't either.
And Dave, he says he's innocent, huh? I'm a reporter.
Now, if the person I'm talking to has a stake in the matter I assume that every answer I get is gonna be a lie to one degree or another.
People are self-serving.
So you take that into consideration.
Would you care for a cookie? No, thanks.
All right, you're not just taking his word for it, right? So if you've turned up anything solid, why don't you go to the D.
A.
And have him reopen the case? If I had anything solid, I wouldn't need you.
Dave's girlfriend, Cheryl Wilson, was bludgeoned to death.
She was beaten so badly that the only thing that made positive identification possible was her fingerprints.
Mmm-hmm.
And Dave, he's a sweetheart of a guy.
I've sat through a lot of murder trials, and I've heard a lot of witnesses say, "But he was such a nice guy.
" Now, I'm not saying Dave is incapable of violence.
I'm saying, I don't think he killed her.
Now, that is just pure gut instinct.
Are you always this hard to hire? Oh, only when somebody comes in with "mark" written all over them.
Dave didn't ask me to get into this.
It was my own idea.
Well, lady I think you're being suckered.
Then you don't want the job? Mmm.
I didn't say that.
No, I just like to be upfront, and then I don't feel so bad taking your money.
How much? $200 a day plus expenses.
I want you to meet Dave.
Yeah, well, all right, let me, you know, get my coat.
In New York the going rate's $250.
I was about ready to give up on this.
I mean, I've been over the trial transcript a dozen times.
I kept digging for information.
And nothing but dead ends.
If that man hadrt tried to kill me today Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute.
Why? Who tried to kill you? I don't know.
I've never seen him before.
But he tried to force my car off the road right about here.
I reported it to the police, and they've already checked the area.
Why didn't you tell me? Physical violence has a tendency to put some people off.
Yeah, I'm one of them.
You should've told me.
We could have saved both of us a lot of time.
I don't hire out as muscle.
Did I ask you to put on a gorilla suit? I hired you to help me prove that Dave Kruger is innocent.
And what happened this morning tells me I'm on the right track.
Somebody doesn't want this case reopened.
Well, what happens when somebody decides to take another crack at you? They won't.
The attempt this morning was against a woman alone and unarmed.
Yeah, and next time it'll be against the two of us alone and unarmed.
You're not armed? No.
But you're a private investigator.
Why don't you carry a gun? Because I don't want to shoot anybody.
Why is Dave so important to you? I grew up with a lot of Dave Krugers.
Not enough money, bad neighborhood.
When they get tagged, what kind of defense can they afford, what kind of appeal? This is just a personal crusade.
Very personal.
It's why I became a journalist.
And Henton Publications gives me a power base, a very strong voice.
Now, Dave Kruger isn't guilty and he shouldn't be serving time.
Everybody in here is in on a bum rap.
Just ask them.
No, no, when Dave was arrested, he took three lie detector tests.
And all three proved he was clean, and all of them were invalidated on technical grounds.
It wouldn't have been admissible in court anyway.
Don't you trust anybody? My father.
Of course, he's bonded.
Hey, Susan.
Two visits in one day.
It's like my birthday.
This time I brought along a friend.
Jim Rockford.
Hi.
How are you? Hi.
Nice to meet you.
I've heard a lot about you.
Mr.
Rockford is a private investigator.
He's gonna help me try to get you out of here.
No kidding.
Hey, hey.
Oh, this is some day, huh? First, Susan calls me and says, "That's it, we got no place else to go.
" So I say, "Hey, can't we talk about it?" So, she come out here and we talk.
She says how she's run into nothing but stone walls.
She tried, but it's no use.
So I figured I'm cooked, right? End of the line.
Hey.
Hey.
Well, I knew you'd be happy.
Oh, happy? Boy, that don't half say it.
Now, you just tell me what you want.
You just tell me what to do.
Well, since I'm sort of jumping in the middle of this thing, I think the best way to start is you and I get to know one another.
Oh, that's great.
Why don't we all sit down here? Do you mind if Dave and I just Oh.
No.
No, of course not.
I can wait in the car.
I'll be in touch, Dave.
Mr.
Rockford, do you want I can start from where me and Cheryl met? Or from where what happened to her? I gotta tell you, it's been more than six years and it still twists my guts like when I first heard.
She was my girl.
Dave, stop sticking your toe in the ground, huh? That sod-kicking act just won't make it.
What? Hey, come on, pal, I know what you're trying to pull.
I've done time.
I know all the cons, I've worked them myself.
I don't know what you're talking about.
She didn't get shoved off a cliff, because she wasrt supposed to get shoved off a cliff.
There's no percentage in it if the lady's dead.
Are you saying someone tried to hurt Susan? For a big, old country boy you're pretty smart.
You hired some rumdum to throw a scare into her, because you knew that was the one thing that would keep her on your case.
Anybody else would've said adios.
Nah, she thinks she's onto something.
She smells a story.
Well, that ain't what I smell.
Well, I would never hurt Susan.
She's the only one that ever tried to help me.
She's the only one ever believed in me.
I never killed Cheryl, somebody did.
If stirring up this old case is gonna bring harm to Susan, I want you tell her, flat out, forget it.
Now, I mean it, Mr.
Rockford.
I want you tell her I said forget it.
Now, look, I got some money.
Not much.
But I'd give it over gladly if you was to keep an eye on her.
I already got a client.
I'll keep an eye on her anyway.
He's had about as much as he can take.
You had no right making those accusations.
You hired me to investigate.
I'm investigating.
The wrong person.
The warden told you Dave didn't make any telephone calls.
He couldn't have set me up.
Everybody loves Dave.
Somebody could've made the call for him.
Everybody loves Dave, because he's exactly the person he appears to be.
Yeah, maybe.
Come on.
I want you to read the transcript of the trial.
What is it? That's the car that tried to force me off the road.
He's getting away! He's getting away! That's past tense.
If you'd move, maybe we could catch him.
And? He has a gun.
Very good.
Now get in the car.
Car belongs to a Harry Freidell.
Name mean anything to you? No.
No reason it should.
Freidell wasrt driving.
That car's been on the hot sheet since 8:00 this morning.
I told you we should've followed him.
Fearless Fosdick.
There've been two attempts on my life today.
I'd kind of like to know who wants me dead.
Two? The other took place out near Chino.
I reported it to the police there.
Why's somebody trying to take you off? Because I've been nosing around the Dave Kruger case.
I think he's innocent.
Whoever's guilty is getting a little nervous.
Kruger? Yeah, it was about six and a half years ago, Dennis.
A Murder One.
Oh, yeah, I remember.
They had him cold.
Motive, opportunity.
The last known person to see the girl alive.
Violent quarrel before she disappeared.
He didn't kill her.
I met Kruger today, Dennis.
And he comes across pretty straight.
But the fact is that somebody did try to kill Miss Alexander.
Now, Kruger is no candidate there.
I mean, he's in the joint.
Okay, let's say you're right.
What am I supposed to do? We got the license number of a stolen vehicle, and we got a physical description that fits half the guys in L.
A.
You got something else, Dennis.
You got the case file.
Oh, no.
Let me take a look at it.
What's it gonna hurt? My chances of making lieutenant.
Oh, nobody's gonna come down on you for letting me see a file that's been closed for six and a half years.
Another six months it's gonna be out of the file room and onto microfilm.
That's the last anybody is gonna think about it.
I said no.
Dennis, you just took a report on an attempted homicide.
Now, maybe there's something in that file that would save the young lady's life.
Huh? No, it's not here.
Well, could it be in another file room? No.
This is it.
Could somebody have checked it out? No, they had to sign for it.
They didn't.
Well, do you keep duplicates? No.
Not on a case that's been closed for six years.
Jimbo, you better start looking over your shoulder.
There's only one reason for walking off with a dead file.
Yeah.
To make sure it stays dead.
Do you know what was in that file? Yeah.
Everything the police turned up in their investigation.
The results of the polygraph tests, all the preliminary questioning.
There may have been something new that we could follow through on.
Or something old.
Who were the principals involved, besides Dave? Well, there was Cheryl's mother.
She made the identification.
Took it hard.
I can't see her wanting to help us free the man she thinks killed her daughter.
Well, what about the witnesses? For the defense, character witnesses going all the way back to grammar school.
And for the prosecution? There werert any eyewitnesses to the crime.
But there were a number of neighbors who testified to the argument that Cheryl and Dave had just prior to her death.
Dave never denied the argument.
In fact, he said that Cheryl seemed to be deliberately provoking the argument as if she wanted the fight.
Did anybody see Cheryl after that argument? Except when they found her body? Well, no it was about a week later.
There were some kids up hiking in the Santa Monica mountains.
They're probably still having nightmares.
Well, maybe Dave's attorney would have some good ideas.
Mr.
Newcomb? He had a stroke shortly after Dave was sentenced.
He's been in a rest home ever since.
I tried to talk to him, but his mind is just gone.
He's fairly lucid from time to time, but Here.
Let me help you with that.
I'm used to making my own bed.
No.
No.
This is mine.
You're gonna take the bedroom.
No.
Hey, look, this is my idea, huh? I mean, you can't go back to your own apartment.
I want you right where I can keep an eye on you.
I've slept on the couch before.
Well, so have I.
Not yours, but Now, look, the gallantry's very nice, but it's very unnecessary.
I've slept in freight cars, telephone booths, and a few years ago, when I was covering a dock strike in New York, I even spent the night on a pool table in McGinty's Bar.
Then you earned a good night's rest.
You're stubborn, aren't you? Arert you? That's him.
Mr.
Newcomb? Do you remember me, Mr.
Newcomb? They don't play shuffleboard in the main house.
They have a court, but they don't play there anymore.
This is Mr.
Rockford.
He'd like to ask you a few questions about Dave Kruger's case.
Hello.
I should have won that case.
Never filed an appeal.
You know, if I had filed an appeal Well, I don't know, it's It's hard to say.
We're looking into the possibility that Dave Kruger may have been innocent.
I never play shuffleboard anymore.
I mean, I used to play when they let us use the court in the main house.
Mrs.
Tucker said we had to play outside 'cause it woke up the people who had the rooms on the second floor.
Mr.
Newcomb, try and remember Dave Kruger.
Try to picture him in your mind.
He was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Cheryl Wilson.
You defended him over six years ago.
It was the last year of your practice, just before you came here.
I don't remember him.
I'm sorry.
I mean, sometimes things are so clear I can remember summations, speeches.
I can remember right to the last letter.
And I can say them just the way I did then, and then, right in the middle, it all fades away and I can't remember anything.
Do you like baked potatoes? Yeah.
Yeah.
On Wednesdays they have baked potatoes for lunch.
But I can't eat them.
Give me gas.
I told them in the kitchen.
So they give me the potatoes uncooked.
I put toothpicks in them, grow them in a glass of water.
You said you never filed an appeal, Mr.
Newcomb.
Were you going to file an appeal? I never filed it.
Mrs.
Wilson came to me, and she wanted me to file an appeal but I had the stroke.
Mrs.
Wilson? Is that Cheryl Wilsors mother? I'm sorry.
It's gone.
Isn't it terrible? It just comes and it goes.
Sometimes, I feel as like I did when I was 20.
I feel I could run and jump over that fence down there and then I know I'm just an old man who can't remember things.
You know, I wish it would be one way or the other.
Oh, that's all right, Mr.
Newcomb.
You've been very cooperative.
You gonna stay for lunch? Well If you stay, can I have your potato? Oh.
Yeah, sure.
Sure.
Thank you, Mr.
Newcomb.
Thank you very much.
What was Cheryl Wilsors mother's name? It was in the court records.
Mary? No, Martha Wilson.
She lived in Santa Monica, I think.
Her address was in there somewhere.
Seems strange that she would go to Newcomb and want to finance an appeal for the man who was convicted of killing her own daughter.
Yeah, I suppose, but you can't discount the fact that it was so hazy in Mr.
Newcomb's mind that he might be remembering some other woman, or even some other case.
Well, let's go talk to her anyway, huh? We'll drop by your apartment, pick up the records, and we'll go on from there.
I wonder why they won't let him play shuffleboard in the main house in the mornings, when nobody's asleep.
Kind of makes you hate Mrs.
Tucker, doesn't it? For a journalist, you sure have a thin skin.
That's why I'm so good.
I guess this is it.
Yeah, this is the right address.
Well, maybe the house sold.
It's been six and a half years.
What're you doing? I'm out of real estate cards.
That's marvelous.
I never saw anything like that.
Where did you get it? Oh, good, the real estate plate is still on.
Well, I get all my bogus business cards printed up professionally.
But it doesn't give me anywhere near this much flexibility.
Well, an old client is a printer, and I told him what I needed and he designed it for me.
Well, I want one.
I mean, that's the best tool I ever saw.
Oh, hey, wait a minute.
Hold on.
I love the printing press, but I don't love the real estate approach.
I think we got a much better chance if we go in as surveyors.
Here, wait a minute.
There.
Well, now why is that better? Well, as surveyors, you can prowl around and ask all kinds of technical questions.
But with real estate, if she's not interested in selling, she'll just slam the door and we're cooked.
Look, I know what I'm doing, I've opened up a lot of interviews.
I'm pretty good.
Yeah? Yeah.
So am I.
We'll do it my way.
You do it your way, I'll do it mine.
I'll do the talking.
Now, you're my lineman and sighter.
Hello.
We're with the Double A Realty.
Actually, I'm the broker and this is my client, Mrs.
Damion.
And we were just driving by and saw your house.
It's just what Bill would like.
We had a ranch style in Detroit, but the roof wasrt pitched enough and it froze in the winters and developed dry rot in the rafters.
In California, of course, that isn't a problem.
You see, the Damions, they're moving out from Detroit.
Mr.
Damion is a computer specialist with Diatron.
Well, I don't know.
Of course you don't.
Let me explain.
See, we were driving by and Mrs.
Damion talked me into ringing the bell.
It's just exactly what they were looking for.
Oh, do you mind? I hope we didn't bother you.
Oh, no.
No, of course not.
It's It's just that I never considered selling.
Oh, I hope we can talk you into it because it's just perfect.
And there's a school nearby so little Jess can walk.
They have a son in the second grade.
I don't know, I Well, would you mind if we came in? Yeah.
Of course not.
Thank you.
We could put Bill's wet bar in the corner with the blue sofa.
Oh, I just never know what to do with that big blue sofa.
I mean, most rooms just can't handle it.
Would you mind if I asked you a few questions about the house? Oh, no.
It's just that I never really considered selling.
Bill should see it first.
How many bedrooms? Three.
And a den.
Baths? Mmm-hmm.
Two and a half.
Yeah, well, good.
Good.
Looks like the house is about 20 years old? Mmm-hmm.
Of course, you're not the original owner.
No, no.
My aunt was the second owner.
I think she bought it from a developer.
Yes.
Well, you know, I've been in the area for quite a while.
I always like to know the residents.
A good broker is a good listener.
Let's see, your aunt would be Wilson.
Mrs.
Wilson? Yeah.
That's right.
Yeah.
Martha Wilson.
Yeah.
She left it to my second cousin when she died five years ago.
He kind of, you know, lets me live here temporarily.
I think he's the one you ought to talk to.
Well, it was a shame about Mrs.
Wilson.
I'm terribly sorry.
She was old, and she took a lot of pills.
It was an accident, but she was in her late 60s.
Yeah.
Your second cousin would be Roy Pierce.
Roy Pierce.
The patio is a little small.
Look, how much would you be willing to offer me? Well, let's see, for a house like this with a little tiny patio only two and a half baths Oh, I'd say about $20,000.
You'd take back a second at 6%.
That sound about right? Mmm-hmm.
Not to me.
Yeah.
I'm afraid I wouldn't even be slightly interested in it at that amount.
Maybe we should keep looking, Mr.
Rockford.
For $20,000, I wouldn't even sublet the back bedroom.
Yes.
Well, you have my card.
And if you should change your mind, I'm in the office usually between 9:00 and 10:30.
That's except on Wednesdays.
That's when we have our real estate caravan.
Thank you.
Bye-bye.
Except for Wednesday, when we have the real estate caravan? Right.
Right.
The real estate brokers get together and caravan all the new listings.
Usually on Wednesday morning.
Don't take it so hard.
It worked.
When I hire operatives, I usually get a chance to call the shots.
Well, I'm not an operative.
I'm a private detective.
You hire me, you get the whole product.
Yeah.
Complete with a phony real estate pitch.
How about that.
What do you think? Was Mrs.
Wilson a suicide? Her daughter gets murdered and six months or so later, she's dead of an overdose of pills.
I suppose it makes sense.
She was dejected over the murder.
I guess the best thing would be to check it out with the medical examiner.
I'll call Becker and we'll give it a whirl, huh? Everybody involved in this case is either dead or retired.
Which one is the medical examiner? Retired, about eight months after Cheryl Wilsors death.
He's got a boat at the Marina.
His name is Patrick Elber.
Becker checked the records for me.
Same guy did both autopsies.
Isn't that a little strange? Why? They got two deputy coroners doing the autopsies.
That means it's a fifty-fifty chance same mard do both of them.
No.
It's fifty-fifty he'd do one.
It's 25-75 he'd do them both.
You're right.
You're right.
That's one in four.
That's my taco.
I've been re-reading the mother's testimony.
She broke down twice on the stand and ended up in the hospital during the trial.
They had to postpone it for two weeks until she was well enough to testify.
Yeah, and then she went to Mr.
Newcomb and wanted him to file an appeal.
Then he had a stroke, and she committed suicide.
The people standing in Cheryl Wilsors emotional attic didn't fare too well, did they? I suppose you're right.
If I know what you mean by "emotional attic.
" Your journalistic metaphors are showing.
I know.
I do that sometimes.
Do you have the slip number to Mr.
Elber's boat? Yeah.
Well, then let's go.
Oh, wait, wait, wait.
Let's get together on how we're gonna go after this one, huh? I'm just gonna show him my press card.
I think with a medical examiner, that's the best way, just go in straight.
Kind of takes all the fun out of it.
I mean, we can't overlook the fact that the case file is missing.
I mean, somebody's got it.
Maybe this guy's on somebody's payroll.
You got a better idea? Well, how about an insurance investigator works for an attorney who's filing a loss of life claim against the insurance company that carried Mrs.
Wilsors policy? No.
I don't like it.
It's just too complicated.
Oh, it'll work.
All we need to do is scrounge a little information from the Coroner's Office.
Wait.
You're right.
You're right again.
First, the Coroner's Office and then Elber.
Mr.
Slauson.
You must be new.
I don't remember either one of you.
Well, I've been there almost 18 months now.
You retired before either one of us got there.
Oh, well.
Oh, come on aboard.
It's good to talk to people from the old office.
Oh, say Oh, Mr.
Wilson says hello, and they miss you every Thursday night.
Well, I miss them.
That poker game made about $1,000 a year to me.
Oh, and this is my assistant, Miss Lillian Dexter.
Nice to meet you.
Everybody still talks about you, Mr.
Elber.
Pat or Patrick.
So, what can I do for you? Well, what we're doing, Pat I'll tell it, Lillian, if you don't mind.
Maybe you've heard that we're moving all the old records from the Coroner's Office on the building on West 7th Street, over to the new microfilm vaults on Hemmit.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
I did hear about that.
Across from the courthouse.
Yeah.
That's right.
Well, Miss Dexter and I what we're doing is trying to sort out all the old records so they'd be ready to microfilm, and then we're trying to reconcile them against the obits that are filed with the County Coroner's Office.
Unfortunately, there are a few omissions.
Now, I thought we might get some information from you, well, so we could at least include some statement of death.
If you could remember.
Otherwise, we'll just have to file them with a No Cause of Death statement.
Oh, boy, those files were always in a mess.
They probably were misfiled, you know? Oh, it's really not that bad, Pat, just four or five that we can't find.
But you know Mr.
Buchanan is such a stickler for detail.
I remember.
I remember.
Would you just get him the names, Miss Dexter? So we don't take up his whole day? Oh, sure.
Such a nuisance.
We're sorry.
Oh, it's okay.
Go ahead.
Well, now, let me see.
Where are they? We don't have all day for this, Miss Dexter.
I'm doing the best I can, Mr.
Slauson.
Take it easy, Slauson.
You'll get the information.
Don't worry.
Don't worry.
Ah, yes.
We don't have the record for a Jerry Kitteringhouse.
Kitteringhouse.
Kitteringhouse.
Wait a minute.
Let me think.
Oh, yeah.
Gunshot wound in the left ventricle.
He was cleaning his gun.
Accidental death.
Kitteringhouse.
Oh, yes, I remember that one.
Oh, that's great.
That's all we need.
Those records are so old.
It doesn't have to be complete.
Just enough to fill in the blanks.
Let's see now.
Martha Wilson, and Cheryl Wilson.
They were mother and daughter, and they died within six months of one another.
Oh, I sure remember that one.
I did both autopsies.
Now, let me see.
Cheryl was beat up pretty good.
We had to bring the mother in for partial ident.
Then, wacko.
Few months later, the mother was dead.
I thought at first it was suicide, but after I did the autopsy, I found out that it wasrt the drugs she'd been taking.
It was her heart.
She was 66 years old and her heart just gave out.
Myocardial infarction.
Just put down "heart failure.
" Oh.
Well, that's it.
Well the memory is pretty sharp for all these years.
Yeah.
It's not bad.
Yeah, terrific.
All right.
That should about take care of it.
I still don't see why you're quitting.
Well, I I kind of got where I like you and I I don't enjoy taking money from my friends.
That's very sentimental and sweet, but since it's my money, what does it matter? Where do we go from here? We're fresh out of leads.
The mother died of a heart attack.
The daughter was murdered.
All the evidence in the case points toward Dave Kruger, who could have fooled us both, and just may be up for Chino's acting award, best performance by a convict.
What about the man that tried to force me off the road, or the one that tried to shoot me? Well, I can't explain it.
But it may have nothing at all to do with Kruger.
It could be some guy trying to level an old score for one of your Pulitzer Prize winning exposes.
Or Kruger could have set it up just to keep you churning away on the case.
I mean, after all, a little press never hurt a guy in Kruger's position.
I don't believe that and neither do you.
Don't tell me what I believe.
Why not? You don't seem to get very many swift ideas on your own.
Look, Susan, you're used to getting your own way.
Now, you and I both went through this little maze and we came out at Start.
You do not get points for ending up where you started.
So I I gave you a break on the rate, and I didn't charge any expenses.
Well, you didn't have any, unless you want to count gas and shoe leather and about an ounce of printer's ink.
Yeah, I want to count them.
Yeah, well, you don't want a detective.
You want a bodyguard.
You think somebody is still trying to put your lights out.
Okay.
I can recommend some very competent bodyguards who will do a much better job at this kind of thing than I will, and they cost a lot less.
Chicken? Well, of course.
Goes without saying.
What about the appeal Mrs.
Wilson was going to finance? An appeal to get the man convicted of murdering her daughter out of jail.
What about it? I asked first.
I don't think she ever went to Newcomb.
I think that poor old man just got his facts confused.
That looked so promising.
Yeah, but it petered out.
Newcomb gave us some information that went nowhere, Patrick Elber confirmed the official police report, Mrs.
Atwater What about Mrs.
Atwater? There was something that bothered me when we talked to her today, and it just hit me what it was.
She said her second cousin, Roy Pierce, owned the house, right? Right.
When I made her a pretty insulting offer on the property, she became very proprietary.
She said, "I wouldn't be interested.
I wouldn't sublet the back bedroom for $20,000.
" I.
I.
Not Roy Pierce.
Yeah.
That doesn't make sense.
If she owned it, why wouldn't she admit it? Well, maybe she doesn't own it, but she sure feels at home.
And maybe she and Roy Pierce are close.
And maybe something else.
Like what? Let's go ask her.
Well, there must be somebody in there, with two cars parked outside.
Let's try around the back.
Did you get the license number? No, he's too far away.
At least he left the door open for us.
What is it? Whoever did it was trying to get her out.
She was tied up and gagged.
It looks like she got the gag off, started yelling.
He must've given her a whack to keep her quiet, got her in the temple.
Then you showed up, he dropped her and ran.
One of the neighbors saw him take off.
Well, he split in a blue Chevy.
I didn't get the license number.
You were here twice in one day.
Why? I'm working for Miss Alexander.
Miss Alexander usually has a lot to say, but apparently she's willing to let me stand here and turn bright blue without opening her mouth.
What were you and Jim doing here? Well, Sergeant, I'm a journalist and I'm working on a story.
Now, if I tell you, you tell the local press, and I'm out a month's work.
I'm instructing my employee, Mr.
Rockford, to remain silent.
The First Amendment and all that.
Where do you get them, Jim? I don't know, Dennis.
They just seem to seek me out.
Okay, that just about does it.
That's good.
I instructed you to remain silent.
A journalist doesn't have to reveal sources of information or suppositions.
It's all part of the First Amendment.
Listen, Susan, you and I terminated our employment agreement this afternoon just before the cops arrived.
I do not work for you, and I'm not about to withhold evidence in a murder case.
What information? We don't know anything.
Okay, Jim, sign this and you can leave.
We just got a printout on the fingerprints and Photostats we sent to Sacramento.
It's about time.
What took you so long? Well, it's kind of strange, sir, it was in the deceased computer records and that woman isn't named Atwater.
Her name is Cheryl Wilson, and she was supposed to have been murdered over six years ago.
Oh, good.
Could I speak to her secretary, please? And could you put me on hold, please? Well, come in.
They only kept you two hours.
That's not too bad, considering.
What'd you do, make a statement after all? You can only push the First Amendment so far.
I was headed for the lockup, and I had a change of heart.
But they promised me they wouldn't release it to the press.
Gotta protect the old byline.
No, I'm on hold.
Oh, thank you.
Yes, this is Mr.
Rockford at the Tres Elegante jewelry store.
Yes, I'm afraid I've made a mistake.
I gave Miss Alexander's watch to a woman who said she was Miss Alexander and I'm afraid I gave it to the wrong woman.
Could you give me a description of her, please? Do you wanna see my birth certificate? No.
No.
I think it's all right.
It sounds like the right woman.
Yes.
It's your secretary.
You want to talk to her? Oh.
Hi, Nance.
It's me.
No.
All right.
Send the message slips home.
I'll answer them tomorrow.
It's a long story.
I'll tell you later.
Bye-bye.
We got off to such a quick start, I never got around to checking your credentials.
Am I a suspect of some kind? Well, it flicked through my mind, but it didn't fit anything so I discarded it.
Well, Dave Kruger is gonna get a hearing, and I guess it's a foregone conclusion that he's gonna be released.
He's already served six years for killing someone who just got murdered this afternoon.
Who was the lady that was killed six years ago? I think she was just a very convenient body.
Convenient? Cheryl Wilsors life was insured for $200,000.
Her mother was the beneficiary.
How do you know that? I have an inventive mind.
And I went over to the insurance company and I got some adjustor by the name of Mr.
Villon very confused, and he gave me that little bit of information inadvertently.
Did you tell him you were a cop? No.
IRS investigator.
Doing a company audit.
You never stop, do you? Okay.
Okay.
So? So, if you put old Deputy Coroner Patrick Elber into the picture, it begins to look very interesting.
Of course.
He's the one who made the identification.
He sent the fingerprints up to Sacramento for a positive ID.
Cheryl, her cousin, Roy, and Elber were probably in it together.
She took out the insurance policy and they just waited around for a good stiff.
One that was so badly mauled it couldn't be identified.
And Cheryl probably talked her mother into doing a partial ID.
And Elber substituted Cheryl's fingerprints and made it a positive ID.
Cheryl was legally dead, the insurance company had to pay off, and they divided the money.
And Cheryl became Shirley Atwater and went underground.
And during the trial, when the mother broke down, she must have been getting an attack of the guilts when she realized that Dave was gonna get convicted of murder.
Which explains her offer to finance the appeal.
It also makes her suicide, her cardio-whatever, a murder.
I don't like to think that Cheryl had anything to do with that.
Oh, she probably didn't.
When Cheryl was pretending to be Shirley Atwater, she insisted it was an accident.
Patrick Elber could call it anything he wanted.
I mean, after all, he was the Coroner.
Yeah, but why kill Cheryl? Maybe she was getting nervous.
Maybe she stopped believing that her mother's death was an accident, and started asking questions.
Well, let's get on it.
Yeah, we better bring the cops in on it.
Look, Elber's boat slip is only about five minutes away.
I'll go keep an eye on it.
You call Becker.
I thought you didn't like to shoot people.
I don't shoot it.
I just point it.
He's gone.
Does he honestly think he can get away on a boat? Hey, he doesn't know anybody's chasing him yet.
If he had have gotten Cheryl's body out of there, gotten it on a boat, he could have taken it out on the ocean, dumped it and nobody'd been the wiser.
This way he's got it figured that the police will take a little while to figure it out.
Well, Becker's on his way down here.
Okay.
Here, call him back.
I want you to tell him to get a chopper and the Coast Guard.
I'm gonna bet on Mexico.
Well, what're you gonna do? I'm gonna scrounge up a boat.
All right.
All right.
Come on.
No deal.
Get off.
Get off.
Come on, stop it.
It's gonna be a photo essay.
You point your little gun and I'll point my little camera.
Come on, let's get out of here.
Did you get through to Becker? Yeah.
He said he'd get us as much help as he can.
We got a boat angling in on us.
There's a shark rifle down in the salon, starboard side.
Got a scope.
Get it, Roy.
Hurry up! He's coming in at us.
Okay.
Slow him down.
You can't hit anything.
I can hardly keep this camera on them.
I just want to give him something to think about.
Stay down.
Fire right across their bow.
Come on.
Move faster.
Just get your pictures.
I'm a little busy.
You know, it seems strange to think that Cheryl was alive, all those years I was in prison.
And Roy, Roy Pierce was the one that killed her, and he was her own cousin.
And the beneficiary of her mother's policy.
And Elber used his connections at the department to keep the lid on.
He even walked off with the case file when one of his cronies told him Susan was digging into the case.
Well, I'm out and that's what counts.
Pretty good picture, don't you think? That picture is causing me a lot of trouble, Susan.
Just because you werert supposed to have a gun.
It's just a little technicality.
I don't think it's gonna cause you much trouble.
That little technicality is gonna cost me a court appearance, maybe a fine, and a possible temporary suspension of my license.
Well, if they do that, you can always go into the printing business.
That supposed to be a joke? Well, let's not quarrel, this is Dave's party.
You know, I spent a lot of time in prison, and there was a time there when I didn't think anybody even knew I was alive.
And then you come to me, Miss Alexander, you threw me a lifeline.
I drink to you.
And to you, Mr.
Rockford.
Jim.
You risked your life for me, and you figured it out.
I've been in jail six years trying to figure it out and I didn't have a clue.
What are you gonna do with your life, Dave? I mean, you're out and you've got a pardon.
And now you've got a future.
I don't have that completely doped out yet.
Maybe I'm gonna get in the gas station business.
I think I'd like to get a gas station.
What are you gonna do tomorrow? Or next week? I'd like to do a follow-up story.
Well, first, I'm gonna borrow $50, maybe a $100.
Okay.
I'll loan it to you.
Thanks.
Well, then what are you gonna do? Well, I'd like to do a photo essay.
You don't want any pictures, Susan.
Well, why not? I think it'd be fascinating.
You do? Yeah.
Tell her what you're gonna do, Dave.
I'm gonna get a woman and I'm gonna get drunk.
Oh.
I'll drink to that.
Well, I guess I can, too.