Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 20, Episode 8 - The Fourth Victim - full transcript

Late one night, a man (seen only from the shoulders down or in silhouette) enters the Dodge House Hotel, swipes a room key, lets himself into the room and goes back to return the key. A few minutes later, the room's occupant comes in. As he shuts the door, he looks up and sees the silhouette -- pointing a rifle at him. The slug drills him through the heart, but there is no sound of the shot and he's not discovered until the next morning. Newly thinks that someone could fashion a device to silence muzzle blasts. Matt sends word throughout Dodge and the nearby communities to form a street police force. But the killer strikes again the next night, and the next. Matt's now convinced that the serial killer is choosing his victims for a specific purpose -- most likely because they served on a jury. Matt questions Doc, who's lived in Dodge the longest, about the juries he remembers serving on and whether he remembered the men who served with them and who they judged. From Doc's information, Matt figures that Doc himself is the next on the list. But when the chief suspect is reported already dead, Matt must try to find the killer all over again.

(theme music)


With Milburn Stone as Doc...

Ken Curtis as Festus...

Buck Taylor as Newly...

And starring James
Arness as Matt Dillon.

(ominous music)

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(upbeat harmonica music)


Sorry, Mr. Nelson.

Can't have you sleeping
on the job like that, Howie.

Just resting my eyes.

Now, you can go
back to sleep, Howie.


Goodnight, Mr. Nelson.

(ominous music)

(cocks gun)




Matthew, it's nigh on time
to get some breakfast vittles.

I can smell coffee clean
down the street yonder.

Flapjacks a floatin' in syrup

and ham biscuits 'n mush.


Morning, Matthew.

I'm trying to get
some sleep here.

Well, a cup of coffee
and a good breakfast

will perk you right up,

I guarantee it will.

I'm not hungry just sleepy.

Well Matthew it's purt nigh
eight o'clock in the morning.

That means I've only been
asleep about three hours.

I didn't get back from Ellsworth

till five o'clock this morning.

Oh Matt, I thought...

- What's the matter, you sick, Matt?
- No, I'm not just sleepy.

Well, I was gonna
ask you to breakfast.

Funny thing, Doc, I was
just talking to Matthew

- about us getting...
- I'm just talking to Matthew about it.

Well, can't you
see the poor man's

trying to get
hisself some sleep?

Just listen, if you
think you're gonna

stick me for breakfast you
got another thing coming.

Well, if you think I'm
gonna go over yonder

to Delmonico's and
sit and listen to you

saucer and blow and
slurp your blamed coffee,

you got another thing...

Matthew, I thought
you were fixing to get

yourself some more sleep.

I know when I'm licked.

Let's go get some breakfast.

Marshal, there's been a
killing over at the Dodge House.

- Jeb Nelson, he's been shot.
- (Matt) When?

Well, I don't know
they just found him.

Just go away you
have no business here.

- Will you please go away?
- No!

- (Matt) Let us through, ladies.
- Oh, thank goodness.

He came in about one
o'clock this morning, Marshal.

That's the last time I saw him.

(Doc) Matt, it's close range.
There's powder burns here.

How long you think he
might've been dead, Doc?

(Doc) Well, I'd
say several hours.

Howie, did you
hear anything at all?

Not a sound.

- I'd best get back to the desk, Marshal.
- All right, I'll talk to you later.

Festus, get these
folks out of here, will ya?

All right now folks don't
stand here gawking.

Go on back
downstairs. Go on, get!

Doc, you know, he was a drummer

and he spent most
of his time out of town.

He never came back till
the end of each month.

Meaning what?

Well, it could've been
a crime of passion.

- (Doc) Passion?
- Sure, a jealous husband or something.

Oh, for heaven's sake, Burke, will
you let Matt do the detective work.

Get out of here,
will ya! Get out!

Well, he's got over
$80 on him, Doc,

that rules out robbery.

Old Jeb. Been around
here 15 years or so.

Never hurt anybody.

Here it is, Matt.

Thirty caliber rifle bullet.

Yep, you'd think anybody
fired a.30 caliber weapon

at one o'clock in the morning, they'd
wake up half the town, wouldn't ya?

You'd sure think so.

Yet we know the shot
couldn't have been muffled

by a pillow or
something, because...

man had powder
burns on his coat.

Well, he wasn't after money.

- Could it have been something else?
- Well, I don't know, Doc.

I don't think his
room was searched.

Something on his person, maybe?

I don't know, Doc.

I've been over him very
carefully two or three times.

It doesn't look to me like
the body was even searched.

Well... just a
senseless killing, huh?

But why Nelson?

We find out who we
might find out why, Doc.

(ominous music)

(upbeat harmonica music)

- Haines, you calling it a night, are you?
- It's almost 11 o'clock, Festus.

If I don't get home before
12, the wife starts worrying.

(Festus) Well, Mr. Haines,
it appears to me that

worrying wives is something
husbands have got to put up with.

- Goodnight!
- (Haines) Goodnight.

(ominous music)


He's got shot in the back.

(Festus) Matthew!


It's Luke.

You know where
the shot came from?

No Matthew, we never
even heard no shot.

(dramatic music)

(overlapping speech)

- (Burke) Doc?
- Yeah.

- (Burke) What's going on?
- What do you mean?

Is this the same man
that killed Nelson?

Now, why would you ask
me a thing like that, Burke?

Well, you're the one that dug
the bullets out of each man.

Are they the same caliber?

That's none of your business.

Doc, there's been
two men killed here

right under our noses!

- Folks have got a right to know!
- Yeah.

It's almost like there's a
mad man turned loose!

Burke, for heaven's
sakes! Shut up, Burke!

What are you trying to
do here, start a panic?

What caliber did you
take out of Haines?

Burke, let me tell you something

Matt and I are the only two
people who know about this,

and if Matt wants you
to know, he'll tell you.

I'm just trying...

I know exactly what
you're trying to do

just stop trying so hard, Burke.

Just be calm and
maybe everybody else

in town will do the same thing.

Set a good example.

Here's what you can do for me:

go tell Percy Krump

that he can take the
body out of my office.

(Festus) He's here
just come in, Matthew.

(Doc) All right
Matt, there you are.

Thirty caliber.

Well, there's lots
of them in Dodge.

That don't mean the
same fella killed them both.

Well, the fact that
nobody heard the shot,

including you, makes for
a reasonable assumption.

Newly, do you
know of any way that

a man can fire off a rifle
without making a sound?

No, sir, but it is possible that

somebody could put
together some sort

of a gadget that would
muffle the explosion.

It'd have to homemade nobody
I know manufactures one.

Doc, you knew
both these men well

can you think of any possible
connection between them?

No, none that I can think of.

You know, Burke
might be right at that.

We just might be dealing
with a mad man here

who's just gonna kill
anybody at random.

I don't think so.

Well, do you see any
connection between

Haines and Nelson?

No, no, but that killer
had to have a reason.

Now, Nelson, for instance,
he comes into town

only a few days a month.

He always goes to Long Branch

and he always
closes it up at night.

The killer could've made
a point of finding that out.

Well, how did he get
into Nelson's room?

Well, the lock wasn't forced,

the door wasn't jammed open.

So, he either had to
get in one of two ways.

Either Nelson let
him in or he had a key.

Heavens, Howie
should've seen him.

Doc, old Howie sleeps
at that desk half the night.

I'll tell you something else,
this Haines had a pattern too.

He used to gamble
down at the Long Branch,

played poker there
several nights a week,

and he always quit
around 11 o'clock.

Now, the killer
could just as well

have known about that too.

Well, Matt I can
give you something.

The bullet entered Haines'
body from a high angle.

Now, the shot had to
be fired from somewhere

at a level above the street.

Like a rooftop.

Or a second story window maybe.

Festus, I want you
to go out and round up

some men that we
know we can trust

like Lathrop, Halligan,
Burke, Potter, maybe Saxbe.

Well, Matthew, Old Halligan, he's
got the argues something fierce.

He can't even
hardly get out of bed.

And you know Mr. Potter's
got that there bad sick girl

that can't be left
by her own self.

Well, ask him if he
can get somebody

to take care of
her while he's out,

and then round up
some other good men.

We'll get everybody we can.

One more thing, spread
the word around town

until further notice
we're under curfew.

I want everybody off
the streets by 10 o'clock.

- (Festus) All right, Matthew.
- (Newly) You bet.

Matt, if he
intends to kill again

that's sure not gonna stop him.

All we can do is try, Doc.

Now, remember stop
anybody you see on the street.

Anything you see
out of the ordinary,

let me know right away.

All right, let's go.

I'm sorry I'm late, marshal.

No, I'm glad you made it.
Burke, take Mr. Potter with you.

Yes, sir.

You see anyone we don't
know, get ready to use your gun.

Take it easy, Burke.

Shoot an innocent bystander

the marshal's gonna
have your head.

Potter aren't you scared?

Of course I'm scared.

That don't prove he's
gonna try it again tonight.

Well, he killed
two nights in a row

what's so different
about tonight?

A lot.

Think he don't know
about all us deputies.

Maybe he does, but
you know if he's crazy

that ain't gonna
stop him from trying.

You know, the thing
that puzzles me most

is we got no guarantee
that he's a stranger.

What do you mean?

Well, he knew enough
about Nelson and Haines

to be ready for them.

You know I was
thinking what if he,

what if he's living
right here in Dodge?

What if he's one of us?

Oh Burke, why don't you shut up.

(ominous music)

Don't be so blamed jumpity.

I'm sorry, Festus.

(sighs heavily)

I've never seen Dodge so quiet.

That there is a
pure old-dee fact,

I ain't neither.

Kinda spooky, ain't it?

You think he'll try again?

I mean, with all these
armed men, it'd be too risky.

Maybe he'll just move on.

I don't know, Mr. Price.

I got me a sure
kinda ticklety feeling

that ain't gonna
be the way it is.

I'm gonna do me some
more looking around.

You make blame sure that
all these doors is locked.

Sure thing, Festus.

Evening, marshal.

(Matt) Mr. Meeker. It's
10 o'clock curfew tonight.

Yeah, I heard but I just sent
a telegraph over to Hayes

I gotta wait for an answer.

(Matt) How long will that take?

Oh, half hour or so.

(Matt) All right, I'll
send somebody by

to see that you
get home all right.

Marshal, I've been
walking home from this job

every night, by myself,
for the last 18 years.

I'm no schoolgirl
that needs escorting.

(Matt) I know Mr. Meeker, but
I'm sending somebody over anyway

and not only that, I want you to
lock this door and pull the shades.

Marshal, I've got...

(Matt) Mr. Meeker,
just do like I tell you.

(telegraph machine tapping)

(ominous music)

(horses braying)

(Matt) Festus.

It's almost 11 o'clock

better get over to
the telegraph office

and tell Meeker
it's time to close up.

And make sure he gets home.

He may argue with you.

I'll fetch him, Matthew.

(ominous music)

(glass breaking)

(Festus) Henry?


Matt, it came from a high angle

that's all I can tell you.

Yeah, and another.30
caliber bullet.

How well did you
know Meeker, Doc?

Well, about as well
as anybody in town.

Served on a jury with
him a month or so ago,

the Crowley trial.

Was either Haines
or Nelson on the jury?

No, no, now if you're
thinking revenge killing, Matt,

you're barking up the
wrong tree I'll tell you that.

Because, Crowley,
all he did was just

break up the Bull's Head Saloon.

The judge fined him
$20 and released him.

That's hardly a
motive for a murder.

Yeah, maybe not, but Doc,
these are not just random killings.

There's gotta be some connection
between them somewhere,

we just haven't found it yet.

Trying to tie it to juries.

You've got a tremendous job.

Good heavens,
I've served on juries.

Just about everybody in town.

Anybody else that's been
in town, any length of time,

can say the same thing.

Wait a minute, maybe you
got something right there.

Length of time.

Maybe there's a connection
between the victims.

What do you mean?

Well, look at it.

Meeker, Haines, and Nelson.

All three of them
well along in years,

and all three of them
longtime citizens of Dodge.

Long as you or I.

Meeker longer, maybe.

That's not much to
go on, but it's a start.

Marshal, searched
every inch of this town

and found nothing suspicious.

Talked to boarding
houses, hotels,

checked horses stabled at
the livery through their owners.

Seems every stranger in town
has got a reason for being here.

Yeah, well I guess I never
expected anything different.

- Mr. Saxbe tell you anything?
- Not a thing.

Went into the barn and somebody
hit him, that's all he remembered.

Newly, look, I want you to
go down to the courthouse,

get the clerk down there
to give you the court records

for every major trial
going back 20 years.

Make sure he gives you
a list of jurors on each trial.

That's a lot of paperwork.

Well, we may not have
much time to do it either.

All right.

This is rough on the eyes,
trying to read this faded writing.

Here's something.

No, just Meeker.

Hey listen to this.

April 1859, list of the jurors,

the first three names...

Henry Meeker, Jeb
Nelson, and Haines.

Who was the defendant?

Kinda hard to make it out.

Willis Connors.

Guilty of murder,
sentenced to 20 years.

Who else was on that jury?

Donald Walsh.

Walsh, I think, yeah, he
died in a fire back about '68.

Quint Asper.

He was a blacksmith here.

He went to California
about 10 years ago.

Chester Goode.

He used to work for me here.

He's before your time.

He left, I think,
right after the trial.

Gordon Smith.

He's been dead a long time.

Take a look at this one.

(Doc) Oh come in, Matt.


Well, I think we found a link.


Yeah, Newly and I just
spent most of the day

looking over court records.

Meeker, Haines, and Nelson...

all three of them served on
the same jury 15 years ago.

Man named Willis Connors
was given 20 years for murder.

That bring anything
back to your mind?

Well, sure does.

I was on that jury too.

Think you're being a little
presumptuous, though.

So were eight other men.

Yeah, and all eight of those men

either dead or moved
away from Dodge years ago.

Doc, the way I
see it, you're next.

(dramatic music)

Now, Matt, Connors
was a drifter, you know,

he killed a farmer
outside of town.

Nobody knew why.

A bunch of cowboys came
by looking for water, you see,

and they heard shots
and rode in and found him

with a gun in his hand.

Caught him red-handed.

Yeah, I was away at the time,

but I remember them
talking about the trial.

Didn't he threaten one of
the jurors or something?


Good heavens, he rushed the jury
box and said he'd see us all dead.

Took about five
men to subdue him.

The thing that bothers
me was the sentence.

If it was out and out murder,
why wasn't he hanged?

Well, Matt, to
tell you the truth,

I think I'm
responsible for that.

You, why?

Just no question at all
about him being guilty,

he was caught with
the gun in his hand,

standing over the victim,

there was sign of a struggle

but you know, when
he came to trial,

he didn't seem to have the
mental capacity to testify,

he just kept saying,
"He hurt me, he hurt me."

Now, I kinda coupled
that with the fact

that the victim
had been a bully,

kind of a troublemaker.

And I just couldn't
make myself believe

that he was responsible
for his actions at the time.

Well, all right, so
he wasn't hanged

he was given 20 years.

That's about the size of it.

See, that still doesn't
do us any good.

Not unless he was
pardoned or escaped.

Well, you can check on that.

I already have.

I got off a telegraph to Leavenworth.
Should hear by tomorrow.

Well, Matt I'll give you
the logic that I may be next

but let me tell you something,

I'm not gonna sit
here in this office

for the rest of my life with
the shades pulled down.

Doc, I just can't take a chance
on anything happening to you.

I'm gonna send you off to
Hayes tonight with Newly.

Oh no you're not.

No, sir.

Doc, he's killed
three nights in a row.

Now, if he follows his pattern,

tonight you're next.

Well, if you send me to
Hayes, he'll follow me...

or wait for me here.

Oh, no Matt, no we got
to flush him out some way,

and the only way I know
is to give him a target.


You said it yourself.

Doc, listen to me, the
man's killed three people

on three consecutive nights,

two of them at long range.

That means that
Connors, if it is Connors,

does a deadly shot with a rifle.

You try to set
yourself up as a target,

you're gonna wind up
as victim number four.

Well Matt, set up or
not, he's gonna try again,

we know that.

I just figure my chances are better
if we kinda know what he's up to.

And anyway, I'm too danged old

to sit around and wait
for somebody to kill me.

I want to get it
settled right now.

By golly, I'll lock
you up if I have to.

On what charge?

Fool stubbornness.

If that doesn't work, I'll
think of something else.

Matt, if you don't help me

I'm gonna do this myself.

All right.

But if we're gonna
do it, let's do it right.

(ominous music)

Newly, it's past nine o'clock.

Doc, get away from that window.

Don't make
yourself a target yet.

Well, it's this dang waiting,
Newly, that's getting me.

I know. And I don't blame you.

But, let's do it the way
the marshal laid it out.

All right.

You sit down in that chair
at 10 o'clock and not before.

All right.

Now, we got about
a half an hour more.

Why don't you go in the
backroom in there and lie down.

Well fine, man's out to kill me

and you want me to go to sleep.

That's good.

I just want you to do
what you normally do.

Let whoever it is out
there know you're home,

but kinda keep moving
around a little bit.

(ominous music)

It's time, Doc.

(ominous music)

(glass breaking)

(gun fires)

(glass breaking)

(gun fires)

(dramatic music)

(Matt) There it is.

It would've been just like the
others: right through the heart.

Thank the good
lord for blacksmiths.

You betcha. Doc, you
oughta buy old Herschel a drink

for building that
iron plate for you.

I was just thinking
the same thing, Festus.

There it is.

Well, I'm sorry he got away, Doc

but at least one
of us winged him.

I wonder how bad he's hurt.

Not bad enough, I'm afraid.



(Price) Marshal!

(Man) Marshal, how's Doc Adams?

He'll be well before we know it.

You got any idea
who it could be?

We're gonna know
just as soon as we can.

But three men have been shot.

- You gotta do something soon.
- Lucky he didn't kill me.

Look, boys, best thing we can do

is stay with the
plans we made out.

Now, get back to your patrols.

Alright, Marshal.

Ain't no sign of him
no place, Matthew.

We've looked in every
nook and cranny of this town

all the storehouses, and
the backrooms, everywhere.

He's nowhere to be found.

Marshal, this just arrived.

Willis Connors died in
prison three years ago.

(Festus) Connors? You
figured he was the killer.

That's right, Festus.

Puts us right back
where we started.

(dramatic music)

(Festus) Don't you know
you're supposed to be dying?

(Doc) I'm tired of dying.

- Doc, I thought I told you...
- I know what you told me!

That's when we were
looking for Connors

and Connors is dead now.

Could be anybody else.

That still doesn't
alter the fact

there's a killer loose in
Dodge and he's looking for you.

All right, well I've told you

if you think I'm gonna spend the
rest of my life hiding in corners,

well I won't do that!

Four men that served
on the same jury.

That could be a coincidence.

It could be something else
the four of us had in common

besides that trial.

Well, I'll tell you there's
only one we're gonna find out.

When he kills again.

(ominous music)

(people yelling)

You just can't
stay put, can you?

Doc, doggone it you
shouldn't have come here.

By now everybody in town will know
you're healthy, including the killer.

Well, I heard a
man had been shot,

I'm a doctor, you know.

Well, right through the
heart just like the others.

(Matt) Festus, get
some of these boys,

get him over to Percy
Krump's, will you?

Burke, Potter, Pike,
come on over here.

Get hold of him, now.

(Matt) All right, the rest
of you folks, break it up.

It's all over now.

(Potter) Okay, got it?

- (Burke) Yeah, I got it.
- (Festus) Go on, go on.

Homer Jones.

He was in here alone
must've happened

about an hour after
the place was closed.

Bull was home asleep.

Well, it kind of
breaks the pattern.

Homer wasn't even in
town during the Connors trial.

You know, come to think of it,

I served on a jury
once with Homer

three or four years ago.

Who else was on the jury?

Gosh, Matt I've served
on so dang many juries,

I just can't remember.

Well, who was it was on trial?

It was some cowboy, a drifter,

but I can't think of his name.

But it makes no
sense anyway, Matt,

because he was acquitted.

Lack of evidence.

And that's the only jury you
ever served on with Homer?

I believe it was.

Well, that leaves us
right up a blind alley again.

I'm gonna have Newly check
the records again, just the same.

Wouldn't do any good, Matt,
because the case was dismissed.

He'd no reason to hold a
grudge against anybody here.

I know, Doc, but it's the
only thing we got to go on.

Festus, I want you to go
back to the office with Doc

and stay with him.

What, what's this?

That killer's still loose, Doc,

and he knows you're alive now.

Don't let him out of your sight.

Wait a minute!

Wait, are you talking
about 24 hours a day?

I'm talking about
however long it takes.

Well, now just, no sir, wait
a minute I can't stand that!

I won't!

Having to live in the same
town with you is bad enough

but having to look
at you 24 hours a day

I can't take that.

All right, you
ornery old scudder,

you ain't no oil
painting your own self.

(ominous music)

Find anything?

Nothing much.

I found something here,

but I don't think it's
gonna lead anywhere.

Well, did you get
anything to eat?

I went over to Delmonico's
a couple of hours ago.

There's a letter on
the desk over there

I found it underneath
the door when I got back.

It's from the killer.

"Dr. Adams is still alive
and I've been injured.

You have interfered
with my plans.

Be on the street
tonight at 11 o'clock

alone, or others will die."

Five minutes of nine.

Well, you can't do
what that letter says.

You go out on the
street and he'll kill you.

Doesn't look to me
like I got much choice.

This may be the
last chance we get.

That's no chance at all.

What else can I do?

Let him go after Doc or
anybody else he wants to?

Well, wait a minute, let's
do some thinking on this.

Why don't you and
Festus and myself,

the three of us,

we go on out there
and if he gets one of us

the others will get him.

It's no good, Newly.

He says alone.

And he's just crazy
enough go through it

if I don't follow
his instructions.

What guarantee do we have
he won't keep on killing anyway?

Well, none.

Except that he says
right in this letter

that he'll definitely go on killing
if we don't do what he says.

Maybe at random.

I don't like it any
better than you do.

But I have to go through
with it, there's no other choice.

What else did you find?

Well, nothing much, I'm afraid.

The name of the cowboy
that was acquitted at the trial

was Jeff Wright.

He was accused of
attacking a 15-year-old girl,

but it really doesn't help.

Doc and Nelson
served on the jury,

but not Meeker or Haines.

There's no way of
tying them together?

No way that I know of,

but I haven't finished
reading the transcript here.

Puts us right back
where we started.

Now, wait a minute.

Haines and Meeker
testified at the trial.

Mm hm, but that doesn't
really mean anything, does it?

The cowboy was acquitted.

All right, but
witnesses said they saw

the attacker running away

but they couldn't
positively identify him.

I think it does tie together.

Well, it's almost 10:30.

Are we gonna make it?

You bet we are, Doc.

I just hope I did the right
thing in showing you that letter.

You did just fine.

And I'll tell you Ma Smalley and
them other ladies done just fine too.

They're already done
sewing everything.

All right, let's go.

(ominous music)


(whispers) Potter?

Potter, I'm here!

(gun hammer clicks)

(man 1) Don't pay any
attention to him! He's not Dillon!

I am!

I'm here!

(man 2) Neither one of them are,

I'm Matt Dillon!

(Matt) Don't be a fool, Potter!

- Give it up!
- (man 3) I'm the marshal!

(man 2) No, he's
not the marshal!

(man 3) No here, I am!

- Potter!
- (man 2) I'm the marshal!

I'm Matt Dillon!

- (man 3) I am!
- Listen to me, I'm here!

(shot fired)

Potter, why?

It's been five years since
your daughter was attacked.

Five years.

She never knew me...

till... just last Sunday.

Just before she died.

None of you cared.

None of you.

You let him go.

All of you... let him go.

The man...

The man who killed my baby.

Burke, get some of the
boys, get him out of here.

I don't guess I'll ever
know who arranged for this.

Well, no.

No, I guess you
probably never will, Matt.

You might want to thank
these two fellas here, though.

Ben, Alex, you
done her just right.

(Newly) Appreciate it, men.

(melancholy music)

(upbeat orchestra music)

(announcer) Stay
tuned for exciting scenes

from our next Gunsmoke.

(theme music)