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The Letter
TheLetter


Season : 1
Episode: 13
Directed by: Tim Hunter
Written by: Veena Sud
Production Number: 176713
Airdate: 25 January 2004
Date of Crime: 11 August 1939
Previous: Glued
Next: The Boy in the Box


External Links
IMDB Site


PremiseEdit

The team reopens the case of a 25 year old black woman, who was murdered in 1939 after the woman's granddaughter comes forward with new information. The woman was assumed to be a prostitute murdered by a client, but letters written by the victim indicate that she was afraid of a milkman.

SynopsisEdit

The episode opens on August 11, 1939. Of the four young black women chattering in a kitchen at the end of the day, one is a stunningly beautiful lady called Sadie. One of the other women named Blanche waits for her date Manross, also called ”The Candyman”. After Sadie’s warm exchange with the young girl whose mother owns the house, Blanche asks about Sadie’s own 10-year-old daughter whom she had to leave behind in Virginia. Sadie said that she would bring her daughter up when she has enough money. But, later that night, Sadie lies disheveled and dead on the kitchen floor.

In the present day, an attractive young black woman in a business suit talks with Lilly and Scotty about the cold case of Sadie Douglas. This young lady turns out to be the granddaughter of Sadie, and daughter to the girl that Sadie left behind in Virginia. Her mother, recently dead, was ashamed of Sadie because she was working as a prostitute in Philadelphia when she was murdered. While the police believed the killer to have been a random john, the granddaughter has found letters from Sadie to her daughter, which suggested otherwise. One of the letters said that Sadie was afraid that the ”milkman” would hurt her. In a large storage facility, Lilly and Scotty find the police case folder for Sadie Douglas. It contains a close-up photo of Sadie’s broken fingernails. At the police station, the detectives examine the folder’s contents. The records say that Sadie was a prostitute who died in a boarding house known to take in prostitutes as boarders. The last to see Sadie alive was another boarder named Blanche. A ticket to New York City was also found among her possessions.

At the granddaughter’s office, Lilly and Scotty ask permission to exhume Sadie’s body so they can test for DNA under her fingernails. The granddaughter, Sarah, consents. They also ask if Sadie ever mentioned Blanche, and Sarah pulls out a photo of Blanche and Sadie. She reads part of the accompanying letter. In a flashback of 1939, we see a close of up Sadie’s letter being written and, then, of Sadie reciting the letter. At microfiche machines, Detectives Jefferies and Vera learn that the milk company that used to deliver milk to the boarding house was hit by a severe fire in 1939. At the storage facility, Lilly and Scotty find a police folder on Blanche, arrested for prostitution in 1940. Scotty recognizes the name of the man that bailed her out: Manross Delaney, ”The Candyman” — the owner of a highly successful candy franchise. Lilly and Scotty visit an upscale house. A lively older black woman greets them. She identifies herself as Blanche and then calls to her husband, Manross. Settled in the living room, they say they didn’t know of any plans of Sadie’s to go to New York. At the mention of ”milkman”, Blanche tells of a white man named Pierce with a fire-scarred face, who delivered milk to the boarding house, calling him a ”southern rebel wannabe”.

In a flashback of 1939, a milk truck with two white men pull up to the boarding house as Blanche descends the steps to the sidewalk. The driver has a scarred face and refuses to take the milk to the house. The second man, called Jonesy, notices Sadie as she emerges from the house, commenting that she almost looks white. He starts to carry the milk up to the house when the driver yells at him to drop the milk. After he does, shattering the bottles, the driver says to let her clean it up. In the present, Blanche says that Sadie wouldn’t let it be cleaned up. When Lilly mentions the letters to Sadie’s daughter, Blanche reveals that, like the rest of them, Sadie didn’t read nor write. However, she didn’t say who else could have written the letters for her.

Back at the police station, Jefferies and Vera inform the others that the fire was caused by white workers upset over the hiring of blacks. Several people were killed or maimed. Pierce was one of the injured and his home address was listed in the newspaper. The detectives wonder who wrote the letters, and so Scotty takes them to a handwriting expert who immediately identifies the writer as very probably female and promises more detail in a few hours. At Pierce’s address, Jeffries and Vera find Pierce’s granddaughter who reveals that he died 10 years earlier and that he left a diary. At the station, Jeffries and Vera tell what they learned from the diary. Pierce frequently mentions the ”Fifth Day”. They know he was part of a group of workers injured in the milk company fire and wonder if they were the same thing. From an entry in his diary, the detectives learn of the aftermath of the broken milk bottles.

In a flashback of 1939, we see the two milkmen again. Delivering the next batch of milk to the boarding house, the two milkmen are upset that the broken milk bottles weren’t cleaned up. Jonesy suggests that the Fifth Day could teach her a lesson. The driver agrees. Jonesy takes the new delivery of milk up to Sadie waiting on the porch. He thrusts his face at her but she doesn’t wince and he leaves her the milk. At the station, the detectives speculate that Jonesy was the milkman that worried Sadie. They also decide to check criminal records for Pierce and the Fifth Day. At the DA’s office, Lilly learns from ADA Kite that the budget is too tight, and the need for a 1939 case is not pressing enough to guarantee an exhumation. Their relationship seems to be in the same type of limbo. At the station, the detectives have learned that the Fifth Day was a group of racists who terrorized black people moving up from the South. The name derives from the Biblical version of Creation: ”God said, let us make man in our image”. A photo of the group includes Jonesy who didn’t appear to have any fire-related injuries. Jonesy’s last name is unavailable. Lt Stillman reports that the handwriting analysis points to a kid. Records say that the only kid would have been the landlady’s daughter. An aging black lady enters the kitchen of the former boarding house. She acknowledges that she wrote Sadie’s letters when she was 10 years old. Moreover, she tells of what happened between Jonesy and Sadie.

In a flashback of 1939, in a note hidden under a milk bottle, Jonesy asks Sadie to forgive him. Before long, they are exchanging notes via the milk delivery and love blossoms between them. Back in present, the old woman thinks that Sadie’s comments about being hurt by the milkman simply meant that she was afraid of being hurt emotionally by him. She says the notes continued for months and she still has them all. When Scotty asks, she recalls that on the day Sadie was murdered, Jonesy wrote a note asking for a proper meeting. At the station, the detectives read a note from Jonesy, which promises to care for Sadie and her daughter. Another note suggests that Candyman was a competitor for Sadie’s affection. At Delany’s house, Manross admits to having crush on Sadie but she didn’t reciprocate. Manross didn’t know of Sadie’s relationship with the milkman until the day she died.

In a flashback of the day of Sadie’s death, the young Manross approaches the boarding house with the intention of bringing Sadie to the juke joint where everyone else was. However, he is startled to see the milkman and Sadie inside the house, talking. Jonesy wants her to leave that night but she doesn’t want to be rushed. Manross leaves, making some noise, which draws the milkman’s attention. In the present, Manross says that Jonesy was blind in one eye as a result of the company fire. In answer to Lilly’s question, he says he didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to hurt Blanche, who at that moment was visibly hurt by this revelation. At the station, the detectives say that Manross has volunteered his DNA to be checked against anything found under Sadie’s fingernails. While he is a prime suspect, they wonder why Jonesy wanted to leave town so quickly, speculating that Pierce learned about them. Jeffries and Vera have discovered that Jonesy’s full name is Nathan Jones, which is too common a name to use to hunt for him, if he is still alive. Since he was blind in one eye, they realize that he would have been declared 4F by the military, and they might be able to use that to narrow down the list of names. At that point, ADA Kite arrives to tell them that there isn’t the money to allow an exhumation of Sadie’s body. At the granddaughter’s office, Lilly tells her of the milkman’s love for Sadie. When informed that Sadie’s body will not be exhumed due to financial hardships, Sarah writes a check to cover it. In an autopsy room, Sadie’s body is examined and the pathologist says it’s possible to get DNA evidence. While there, Scotty gets a phone call and learns that Nathan Jones’ address has been found in New York City.

Crossing a bridge on foot, Scotty and Lilly discuss the case. Pierce’s granddaughter’s DNA as well as Manross’ are being compared to the DNA found under Sadie’s fingernails. Just then, Lilly gets the news via her phone that Manross’ DNA didn’t match. She also admits to making a mistake in her relationship with Kite. Somewhere in New York, Lilly and Scotty question Jonesy, now an old man living with his grandson. The first thing Jonesy tells them is that Sadie wasn’t a prostitute. She just lived at that boarding house because there weren’t other places for her. He helped her financially, occasionally and secretly. He says the night she died, he tried to save her because ”they” were coming.

In a flashback of a bar that night, Pierce and three other men are demeaning Sadie while Jonesy sits nearby, uninvolved. Jonesy is surprised to learn that they intend to attack her that night. He rushes to the boarding house, calling for her. In the present, Jonesy says she wouldn’t leave, so he left. Lilly and Scotty don’t believe him. They ask him to volunteer his DNA. Jonesy’s grandson is eager for him to comply since he believes Jonesy has nothing to hide. Pressured, Jonsey tells what really happened that night. At the boarding house, Jonesy tries to convince Sadie to leave without telling her exactly why. When he tells her of his plan to go to New York, Sadie wonders about her daughter. Jonesy says they can send for her but he balks when Sadie shows him her picture. He tells Sadie that while she can pass for white, her daughter can’t. Sadie tells Jonesy that he really doesn’t love her. That’s when the Fifth Day arrive. They think that Jonesy had a head start, so they don’t suspect him. Together, with Jonesy standing helplessly by, they pin Sadie down on a table and rape her. She screams and Jonesy puts his hand over her mouth, her fingernails gripping and cutting into his arm. When the men are done, they are shocked to find that Sadie is dead.

In the present, Jonesy rises after telling his story, his notes to Sadie falling to the floor. He is handcuffed and led off. Lilly retrieves the letters and gives them to the granddaughter with the landlady’s daughter present. Blanche forgives Manross. Sadie’s case file, marked ”closed”, is returned to the storage facility. As she and Scotty leave, Lilly glimpses Sadie’s smiling image down an aisle.

CastEdit

Main CastEdit

Guest CastEdit


Co-StarringEdit

DescriptionEdit

QuotesEdit

  • Jonesy: Come and get it!

  • Pierce: So, then, I says to her, you may look almost white, but you is black as midnight. (laughing) Jonesy over there don't think I'm funny.
  • Man: Oh, that's 'cause he's givin' her his morning milk.

  • Sadie: What's wrong, Jonesy?

  • Jonesy: Because I love you Sadie. I love you.
  • Sadie: No... you don't. Just told me so.
  • (men laughing)
  • Pierce: Well, look at what we got here. Jonesy's gettin' a leg up on us boys. Ain't you, Jonesy?
  • (Sadie screaming)
  • Pierce: Come here!
  • Men: Come on! Come on!
  • (Sadie screaming)
  • Pierce: Put her down! Put her down!
  • Sadie: No!
  • Pierce: Now who you think you is, bitch?
  • Sadie: (screaming) No!
  • (men laughing)
  • Pierce: Get over here! Hold her down!
  • Sadie: No! No! Jonesy! No! (screaming)
  • (men taunting)
  • Pierce: I said hold her down!
  • Sadie: Jonesy! Jonesy! Jonesy! (muffled screams) (muffled screaming grows silent)
  • Pierce: Let her be, Jonesy.
  • Man: What's wrong with her?
  • Pierce: Get up! Hey, I said get up!

NotesEdit

The character Manross Delaney and his candy business "Delaney's Delights", as well as the victim being a light-skinned black woman named Sadie, are probably allusions to the writer Sadie Delany (1889-1999), a light-skinned black woman who had a candy business called Delany's Delights in the 1920s (her recipe appears on page 43 of The Delany Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom) and a brother named Manross. The writer Samuel R. Delany, who has at times lived in Philadelphia, is a nephew of Sadie and Manross.

MusicEdit

  • Opening Song: Julia Lee "Dream Lucky Blues" 
  • Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald "Star Fell On Alabama"
  • Michael A. Levine "Sadie's Blues"
  • Closing Song: Ella Fitzgerald "Blue Moon"

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