Murder in Small Town X

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Murder in Small Town X
Murder in Small Town X logo.jpg
Genre Reality/Murder mystery
Created by George Verschoor
Robert Fisher Jr.
Gordon Cassidy
Developed by Fox/NBC
Presented by Gary Fredo
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8
Production
Executive producer(s) Conrad Green
Location(s) Eastport, Maine, United States
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Fox
Original run July 24, 2001 – September 8, 2001
Chronology
Related shows The Murder Game

Murder in Small Town X (sometimes abbreviated MiSTX) is an American reality television series created by George Verschoor, Robert Fisher, Jr., and Gordon Cassidy and was hosted by Sgt. Gary Fredo, a California Police Investigator, that aired on Fox from July through September 2001.

Although classified as a reality television series, given the format's unique nature, it was more accurately a hybrid of reality TV, game show, and mystery drama.

Premise[edit]

The premise of the show was to bring 10 contestants from around the United States of America to the small fishing village of Eastport, Maine (called "Sunrise" in the show) to act as amateur investigators to solve a series of fictional murders.

Initially, the investigators were given a list of 15 suspects who were "townspeople" played by actors and actresses. A large number of improvisational actors and actresses were stationed around the real-life town, and their job was to provide clues (useful and not useful) to the investigators. Each week, the investigators were sent out on varying missions around the town in order to discover clues to clear suspects. Additionally, the murderer would strike again, clearing suspects as well.

In every episode a Lead Investigator, or Lifeguard, is chosen. In the first episode, the Lifeguard is chosen by picking one of ten cards. For the following episodes, the Lifeguard is chosen by the investigator who was "murdered" the previous episode. For the final two investigators, the previous investigator who was "murdered" will determine who gets his or her first choice on which suspect they want to pursue.

Every three days, two envelopes, red and black, would be discovered somewhere in the town. In the red envelope, there would be a question about what the investigators had learned during the day. The question would usually be pointed to one of the track teams, meaning whoever was involved with that line of investigation has the highest potential of answering it correctly. The team's answer would be sent to the killer via e-mail, with the address being anonymous. If correct, the killer would clear one of the remaining suspects. If wrong, the number of suspects would remain the same.

Afterward, the black envelope would be opened. It contains two smaller black envelopes, each containing a map of a certain location. The investigators (except the Lifeguard) would go into a separate room to vote for the first person who will play the Killer's game. After the vote, the Lifeguard picks the second person who will play. The two investigators would each choose a map and head out to the two different remote locations completely alone, with their movements recorded only by night-vision cameras. One of the investigators would discover an important clue to the mystery, whereas the other would be "murdered" from the show as a "murder victim," with their last seconds seen through the eyes of the "killer" in the manner of classical slasher films.

Story[edit]

The game started out with the mysterious murder of a family known as the Flints, on which the investigators would base their investigation. It soon turned out there was much more to this case when suspects started to turn up dead. The solution to the mystery involved the discovery that the members of a local family, the Duchamps, had been murdered together in 1941 just after the Pearl Harbor Attack because they had stumbled onto a town's secret involving illegal liquor smuggling from Canada. The murder had been committed with the assent of many of the town's leaders, who met in a secret lodge, a society called "The Order of the Scarlet Lupine" or the "O.S.L." The family had been bounded in a room together, and the room was set on fire.

The "murders" were being committed by a descendant of one of the family members who escaped the fire and who was gaining his revenge against the descendants of the town leaders who had condoned the burning of the family in 1941. This survivor, known as the "Burnt Face Man", left several recordings of himself to his child, which were clues for the investigators. As it turned out, he murdered one of the men responsible for the killing of his family, but he was overwhelmed with guilt and committed suicide. The burnt man's child decided to take up his father's work, attacking those responsible or descendants of those responsible for his family's death. Using a bang stick, a close-range rifle-like weapon used to kill fish, not only was he not overwhelmed with guilt like his father, he found it exciting, and decided to make a game of it.

The killer was revealed to be William Lambert (whose real last name is Duchamps), a business partner of Nate Flint and a common target of suspicion (although all initial theories about him turned out to be irrelevant). He killed the people that were either related to or are the members of the O.S.L. They were Blodgett (killed by his father), DeBeck, Flint, Merchant, Rose, and Thibodeaux. Samantha "Sam" Larabee was supposed to be William's last victim, but in the finale, Ángel, the winner, rescued her before William was able to complete his final murder. The fictional police chief, Dudley Duncan, chased him up a flight of stairs and shot him in his bedroom, sending him crashing out the window and falling two stories to the hard concrete below.

Contestants[edit]

Name Occupation Hometown Result Location
Shirley King Home Health Agency Owner Henderson, Nevada 1st Victim Chicken Ranch
Andrew "Andy" Landan Media Planner Chicago, Illinois 2nd Victim Old Mustard Mill
Lindsey Labrum Student Las Vegas, Nevada 3rd Victim The Verdant Hothouses
Stacey Carmona Bartender Staten Island, New York 4th Victim The Marine Supply Warehouse
Brian Porvin Medical Student Fort Lauderdale, Florida 5th Victim Kingfisher Aquaculture
Kristen Kirchner Mortgage Banker Los Angeles, California 6th Victim Sunrise Junkyard
Katie Kloecker Office Temporary Work Erie, Pennsylvania 7th Victim Sunrise High School
Jeff Monroe Model Portland, Oregon 8th Victim DeBeck's Compound
Alan Frye Delicatessen Owner Knoxville, Tennessee Runner-Up Kovick's Boathouse
Ángel Juarbe, Jr. † Firefighter The Bronx, New York Winner Lambert's House

Voting history[edit]

Episode 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Finale
Murdered Shirley Andy Lindsey Stacey Brian Kristen Katie Jeff2 N/A
Group's Pick Shirley Andy Kristen Kristen Brian Jeff,
Kristen1
Katie Alan,
Jeff2
Lifeguard's Pick Kristen Brian Lindsey Stacey Kristen Jeff
Group Voting
Ángel Shirley Andy Kristen Kristen Brian Jeff L.G. L.G. WINNER
Alan Shirley Andy L.G. Kristen Brian Kristen Katie Jeff2 RUNNER-UP
Jeff Shirley Andy Kristen Kristen L.G. Kristen Katie Alan2
Katie Shirley Andy Kristen Kristen Kristen L.G. Jeff
Kristen Jeff L.G. Stacey Jeff Brian Jeff
Brian Shirley Andy Kristen L.G. Kristen
Stacey Shirley Andy Kristen Kristen
Lindsey Jeff Andy Stacey
Andy L.G. Lindsey
Shirley Jeff
     The contestant was chosen as the lifeguard, and could not vote or be voted against.

Italic names represent non-revealed votes, but were based on alliances.

^1 In episode 6, a tie vote occurred between Jeff and Kristen. When asked to break the tie as lifeguard, Katie opted to send both out to play the Killer's Game.

^2 In the finale, Alan and Jeff didn't vote against each other. Because Ángel was immune (as he was chosen by Katie to be the lifeguard), there was no reason to vote and Alan and Jeff were immediately handed their maps.

The game[edit]

The Killer's Questions[edit]

During each episode, the investigators would find a pair of red and black envelopes. While the black envelopes were for the Killer's Game, the red envelopes contained a questions for the investigators. The question usually pertained to one specific part of the day's investigation, and was only able to be answered correctly by the investigators that took part in the investigation at that point. For example, in Episode 2 the question was "what was the date of Oscar Blodgett's birth?" Andy and Angel were guarding his grave plot after it was vandalized and would be the ones who could answer it. When the group decided on an answer, they would email the answer to the killer's anonymous email address. The killer would then send them confirmation of a correct or incorrect answer. A correct answer eliminated a suspect, while an incorrect answer did nothing (this however is unknown since all questions were answered correctly.)

Episode Question Team's Answer Correct/Wrong Cleared Suspect
1 "Because there were no bodies found, what did I wrap the bodies into to remove them from the house?" Bed Linens Correct Dudley Duncan
2 "What was the date of Oscar Blodgett's birth?" 1924 Correct X-Ray
3 "What is the daily tidal variation in Sunrise?" 23 feet Correct Leita Rose-Blodgett
4 "What is Pavor Nocturnus?" A sleeping disorder involving night terrors Correct Drew Chambers
5 "How many sweepers were at the pier when Connor and Lambert killed the shark?" 12 Correct Deanna Harris
6 "What rank was Connor's father?" Master Sergeant Correct Samantha "Sam" Larabee
7 "What Bible chapter says: 'When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous.' ?" Proverbs 21:15 Correct Emerson Bowden
Finale "What year did my father die?" 1971 Correct Rusty Crandall

The Suspects[edit]

These are fifteen suspects, in the order they were cleared of being the killer.

Suspect Occupation Suspect Status Life Status
Dudley Duncan Police Chief Cleared Episode 1
Killer's Question
Alive
X-Ray Taxi Cab Driver Cleared Episode 2
Killer's Question
Alive
Leita Rose-Blodgett Mail Center Operator, the Flint's neighbor,
Oscar Blodgett's widowed wife
Cleared Episode 3
Killer's Question
Murdered Episode 4
Drew Chambers Club Operator Cleared Episode 4
Killer's Question
Alive
Deanna Harris Secretary of The Sunrise Press, Attorney Cleared Episode 5
Killer's Question
Alive
G.D. Thibodeaux Ferry Boat Captain, Fisherman,
Vietnam War Veteran
Cleared Episode 5
After Killer's Game3
Murdered Episode 6
Samantha "Sam" Larabee Diner Owner, Frank Kovick's Fianceé Cleared Episode 6
Killer's Question
Alive
Kidnapped and Rescued4
Hayden DeBeck General, Mind/Science Leader Cleared Episode 7
Murdering
Murdered Episode 6
Noted Episode 7
Mary-Elizabeth Merchant Abby Flint's best friend Cleared Episode 7
Murdering
Murdered Episode 7
Emerson Bowden Town Mayor Cleared Episode 7
Killer's Question
Alive
Rusty Crandall Church Reverend and Pastor
of The First Church of Sunrise
Cleared in Finale
Killer's Question
Alive
Prudence Connor Garage Owner, Nate Flint's Mistress Cleared in Finale
The Burnt Man's last film5
Alive
Jimmy Tinker Hardware Store Employee, Abby Flint's boyfriend Cleared in Finale
The Burnt Man's last film6
Alive
Frank Kovick Local Newspaper Reporter,
Samantha Larabee's Fianceé
Cleared in Finale
The Final Confrontation
Alive
William Lambert
(William Duchamps)
Nate Flint's business partner, owner of 2 Dollar Bill,
later owner of The Sunrise Press
The Killer Killed in Finale by Dudley Duncan

^3 Kristen found G.D. at the end of the Killer's Game. Because Brian was killed by the killer, G.D. could not be the killer. In addition, G.D. was killed that night, but not found out until the next day.

^4 Samantha was going to be William's final victim, but Angel rescued her before he could kill her.

^5 Prudence was cleared because the Burnt Man says, "Goodbye my son...". This indicated that the killer had to be male.

^6 Jimmy was cleared because he was too young to be the Burnt Man's son. He was 21, as the Burnt Man's final film is from 30 years ago.

International versions[edit]

Country Name Host Network Date premiered Prize
 Brazil O Jogo Zeca Camargo Rede Globo May 25, 2003-July 29, 2003 R$250.000
 United Kingdom The Murder Game Bob Taylor BBC 29 March 2003 – 17 May 2003 £25,000

Episode summaries[edit]

Episode 1[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Andy
  • Suspect Cleared: Dudley Duncan
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Shirley (6-3) - Chicken Farm
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Kristen - Dog Island
  • Investigator Murdered: Shirley
  • Notes: Abby, Carmen, and Nate Flint are murdered by the killer in the beginning of the episode. The discovery of their murder was found by C.R. Flint and Samantha "Sam" Larabee. Carmen's body is found later in the ocean by G.D. Thibodeaux. Prudence Connor is discovered to have an affair with Nate Flint.
  • Killer Clues: 1; At the beginning of the episode, the killer leaves a video of 15 suspects (1 of which is the killer). 2; Kristen discovers the remains of "The Bonny Rose", a boat owned by the late Oscar Blodgett.

Episode 2[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Kristen
  • Suspect Cleared: X-Ray
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Andy (7-1) - Old Mustard Mill
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Brian - House at 45 Kendal Road
  • Investigator Murdered: Andy
  • Notes: Oscar Blodgett's body was dug up by the killer.
  • Killer Clues: Brian discovers a can of sardines with the Kingfisher logo on the can. Inside the can are a set of fingers, (left ring and pinky finger) that belong to Nate Flint. They are pack in oil and mustard, the old way of packing fish, and were treated with chemicals that are used in taxidermy.

Episode 3[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Alan
  • Suspect Cleared: Leita Rose-Blodgett
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Kristen (5-2) - Sunrise Theater
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Lindsey - The Verdant Hothouses
  • Investigator Murdered: Lindsey
  • Notes: Jimmy Tinker is seen driving Abby Flint's car by X-Ray.
  • Killer Clues: Not shown till the next episode, it is a roll of 16mm film featuring "The Burnt Face Man" recalling his most earliest memory in 1941 when he was 8 years old somehow escaping a fire, being found by a fishing boat 40 miles off the coast,being brought to Bar Harbor and not seeing the town of Sunrise until he "was a man".

Episode 4[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Brian
  • Suspect Cleared: Drew Chambers
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Kristen (5-1) - Grady Point Lighthouse
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Stacey - The Marine Supply Warehouse
  • Investigator Murdered: Stacey
  • Notes: Lieta Rose-Blodgett is murdered by the killer at the beginning of the episode.
  • Killer Clues: The Lost At Sea monument, which is a hand coming up from out of the ground. The base of the monument held name plates with one of the names (in this case, Duchamps), circled in blood.

Episode 5[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Jeff
  • Suspects Cleared: Deanna Harris, G.D. Thibodeaux3
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Brian (3-2) - Kingfisher Aquaculture
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Kristen - Thibodeaux's Cabin
  • Investigator Murdered: Brian
  • Notes: Kristen finds G.D. Thibodeaux dying at his house, and she and X-Ray rush him to the hospital.
  • Killer Clues: 1; Kristen returns with another 16mm film, again of "The Burnt Face Man", talking about how he rigged The Bonny Rose (the clue from episode 1) by wrapping 8 feet of power cord around a propane tank and setting it off with a 6 hour kitchen timer, in the process murdering Oscar Blodgett. 2; G.D. Thibodeaux is also discovered wounded3.

Episode 6[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Katie
  • Suspect Cleared: Samantha "Sam" Larabee
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Jeff and Kristen (2-2)1 - Jeff to Storage House behind DeBeck's Compound
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Jeff and Kristen - Kristen to Sunrise Junkyard
  • Investigator Murdered: Kristen
  • Notes: G.D. Thibodeaux is killed by the killer at the beginning of the episode. Kristen is sent out to the play the Killer's Game for the fifth time, and this time she is finally eliminated.
  • Killer Clues: 1; Jeff finds a giant sword with the initial "OSL" on it when it bursts into flames. 2; Not shown till the next episode, a piece of ripped paper with some visible words. Also on the paper is a picture of the same sword logo.

Episode 7[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Ángel
  • Suspects Cleared: Hayden DeBeck, Mary-Elizabeth Merchant, Emerson Bowden
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game:
    • Group's Pick: Katie (2-1) - Sunrise High School
    • Lifeguard's Pick: Jeff - Kingfisher Cannery
  • Investigator Murdered: Katie
  • Notes: Hayden DeBeck and Rusty Crandall suffer a car accident, and the killer murders Hayden. Mary-Elizabeth Merchant is murdered later while she, Alan, and Katie are taking care of C.R. Flint.
  • Killer Clues: Jeff finds a vault hidden behind a wall, again with a picture of the "OSL" logo. At the beginning of the next episode the vault is opened to the discovery of 8 bodies. Also found are crates with the "OSL" logo, empty liquor bottles, 24 rows of tobacco, and a "white powdery substance" which the investigators believe is cocaine.

Finale[edit]

  • Lifeguard: Ángel
  • Suspect Cleared: Rusty Crandall
  • Sent to play the Killer's Game: Alan and Jeff2 - Alan to the Flints' House, Jeff to DeBeck's Compound
  • Investigator Murdered: Jeff
  • Notes: C.R. Flint passes away due to a brain embolism.
  • Killer Clues: The final Killer Clue, Alan comes back with another 16mm film. "The Burnt Face Man" holds up a picture of him as a child with his family during Thanksgiving of 1941 and said how the OSL (Order of the Scarlet Lupin), namely Oscar Blodgett, Hayden DeBeck, and Calvin Roosevelt Flint (C.R. Flint) locked the family up and burned them alive after the government came across the group's bootlegging scheme and stated that everyone, including a pregnant woman, died in the fire. He continues with saying how the fire was to get rid of all the evidence of the liquor and tobacco as well as the Duchamps, as they knew all about the illegal smuggling. "The Burnt Face Man" also talks about how he had returned to take revenge on the members of the OSL, but after killing Blodgett, he had "become a monster" and was going to take his own life. Telling his child that they are too little to understand and that the video will be sent to his child long after he is gone, "The Burnt Face Man" ends his last video with his final words ".... Goodbye, my son."
  • Suspects Cleared: Prudence Connor5, Jimmy Tinker6, Frank Kovick
  • The Final Confrontation:
    • Alan: Frank Kovick - Kovick's Boathouse
    • Ángel: William Lambert - Lambert's House
  • The Killer: William Lambert
  • The Runner-Up: Alan
  • The Winner: Ángel
  • Notes: Samantha "Sam" Larabee is kidnapped by the killer. Alan and Ángel pursue their suspects, and the killer turns out to be William Lambert. Samantha is rescued, and Dudley Duncan shoots William. Emerson Bowden rewards Ángel with a check for $250,000 for solving the mystery. After the killer is uncovered, a letter, still in Lambert's hands, is opened and read, stating, "I was a child when you went away, so in yours eyes I never grew up. When my mother died, I found your film, and I knew what I had to do to become a man. Now I've completed your life's work. Your loving son, William."

Season finale[edit]

The finale aired on September 4, 2001. The final two investigators, Alan and Ángel, both chose Frank Kovick as the "killer". The tie was broken by Jeff, the final "victim", who had picked Alan as the one who got to confront his first choice. However, it turned out that both finalists were wrong and therefore Ángel Juarbe, Jr. solved the final mystery and won the prize money. Ángel was a firefighter from New York City and was killed one week later in the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001. A statue of a fisherman that had been created for the show and left behind in Eastport, Maine after production wrapped has since been refurbished and now bears a plaque commemorating Ángel. The statue stands in downtown Eastport on the waterfront.

Controversy[edit]

A running coincidence throughout the show's run was that Kristen had burnt bridges with almost all of the contestants, so she was continuously voted out to play the killer's game (with a 50% chance of returning home). She was sent out a total of five times she was on the show. She also had furious clashes with fellow investigator Stacey, up to the point where Kristen and Stacey were both sent out together in Episode 4, in which Kristen eventually returned again. She returned every time until her demise at the "Sunrise Junkyard" (which was actually filmed in Meddybemps, Maine, a neighboring town of Eastport).

Kristen appeared in the 3rd season of the NBC reality series The Apprentice as a brunette, in contrast to her bleach-blonde hair, where she was again notable for having established contentious relationships with the other contestants. She was fired at the end of the fourth episode as the Project Manager of her team, where both teams failed for the first time in The Apprentice history.

The show winner, Ángel Juarbe, Jr, being a seven-year veteran of the fire-fighting force, was a part of one of the first units to the World Trade Center emergency. He was caught in the collapse of the first tower*. On Nov. 28, 2001, his body was found and identified in the Marriott hotel rubble next to the World Trade Center towers. He was laid to rest on Dec. 1, 2001.

Cancellation[edit]

Although critically acclaimed,[citation needed] the series did not achieve strong ratings and was not renewed by Fox. The format was sold to the BBC who made a British version (with slight amendments to the rules) in 2003 entitled The Murder Game. Ratings were poor and the program was not a critical success.

External links[edit]