In "The Murderer," a man appears to be guilty of murdering his unfaithful wife. This episode should have been called "Lillybelle" because their next door neighbor is the real star of this show. You'll see why.
Set in the rural town of Jeffreyville, Mr. John Bantreagh discovers his wife's dead body by the side of the road. A deputy from another county, on his way to the courthouse, sees John and stops. John wants to flee, but he can't move. The deputy thinks that the dead woman has been run over, but then he sees the wounds on the back of her head. Clearly, she was murdered. He asks John if his wife ever cheated on him. Did she? Oh yes, she did.
John tells the deputy about what happened last night.... It had all started when he and his wife, Mollie, were on the front porch opening packages that had come in the mail. Mollie was upset because he hadn't ordered anything for her. They were about to have a fight, but just then Lillybelle had sauntered into the picture.
Yes, Lillybelle, the lady who lives in the next house down the road. She was on her way home but had decided to stop and sit for a while. She had tried to get cozy with John, but it didn't work. He didn't take her flirting seriously. Lillybelle told him that if he ever came to his senses about what his wife was really up to -- to come on down to her place.
What Mollie didn't know was that one of the packages John ordered was for her. He wanted the nylon stockings to be a surprise, but when he opened Mollie's lingerie drawer, he got the surprise. There was slinky lingerie in there that he had never seen before! Mollie walked in and explained that she had paid for them out of the leftover grocery money. John believed her. She also told him that she was going out to the library that night -- and that he could put the kids to bed. John agreed, but pointed out that she had already been to the library twice that week. She told him she would be back by 11:00 and left.
After midnight, while John was at home sleeping, he had heard a desperate cry from Lillybelle outside. She was terrified because someone was following her down the road. John went outside and scared off the creepy man in the darkness. John asked what she was doing out on the road, and Lillybelle told him that she was just out walking...and waiting to see what time Mollie would get home.
In the second half of the show, we are back at the scene of the crime with John and the deputy. The deputy asks if Lillybelle could have been making up the accusations about Mollie, that perhaps she is unscrupulous, but John defends her. He hasn't yet told the detective the rest of the story about what happened last night...
When John went into town to look for Mollie, the only place open was the Lunch Wagon across from the library. It was there that he had found out that the library closes at 5:00 p.m. everynight. The other patron in the Lunch Wagon was the same creepy man who had been following Lillybelle earlier in the evening. According to him, Mollie often waits on the bridge for a man in a black sedan.
Meanwhile, Mollie had found out that her husband was in town asking questions. She went home to pack her bags and run, but there was one thing stopping her --Lillybelle! She wanted Mollie to be there when John returned home! Lillybelle tried to block the door, but Mollie pushed Lillybelle to the floor. Spunky and determined, little Lillybelle went after Mollie...
When John finishes telling the deputy everything that happened, he is surprised that he hasn't yet been arrested. The deputy seems to know who committed the murder. Was it John, or Lillybelle, or the creepy man?
"The Murderer" was adapted for television by Tony award winning playwrite Joseph Hayes from a story by Joel Townsley Rogers. Jeffrey Lynn starred as John Bantreagh. Marilyn Erskine played Lillybelle and Eileen Heckart played Mollie. This episode aired on October 25, 1949. It is available on Disc 1 of Suspense: The Lost Episodes Collection 1.