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Unsolved TV murders

OPINION by Harry Porter | February 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

One thing I have been doing during snowmageddon of 2021 is watching unsolved mystery shows. I watched documentaries like "The Staircase" and the great original Robert Stack TV series "Unsolved Mysteries." I find it very fascinating and it peaks my inner Sherlock Holmes to try to figure out these unique conundrums.

After watching these shows, I began to wonder about a great unsolved mystery that has gone unreported and uninvestigated for years. The crimes took place from around 1958 until 1969. Evidence of this 11-year reign of terror was witnessed by millions of people on a weekly basis but still went unreported. These shocking events were passed off so seamlessly that many of us never even noticed that a crime had been committed.

I am referring to the series of murders of female leads in television series. Let us start with the first incidence I was able to uncover. In 1958, Margaret McCain, wife of Lucas McCain on "The Rifleman," was never seen on the series. In the pilot episode, Lucas McCain buys a ranch outside the town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. His son, Mark, and he had come from Enid, Oklahoma, following the death of his wife, Margaret, when his son was 6 years old. No explanation is ever given as to what happened to Margaret. She is not even mentioned again throughout the next five years of the series. Seems odd to me.

The killer strike again in 1959 with his most prolific series of crimes. Ben Cartwright from "Bonanza" lived in Virginia City, Nevada. Ben lost three wives to the killer. That is right; three wives. Ben had three sons each by a different wife that he married after the previous wife died. Elizabeth, Inger and Marie never lived to see their sons grow up. The deaths were explained as Elizabeth died in childbirth, an arrow killed Inger Borgstrom when Hoss was only a few weeks old, and Marie fell off a horse and was killed when Joe was only 5. Was this just a tragic series of unfortunate events or was something more sinister at play?

The most visible act of the killer was committed in 1960. The killer struck down the wife of Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor of "The Andy Griffith Show." According to the series, Opie's mom died when Opie was "the least little speck of a baby." No other explanation was ever given during the series eight-year run. Millions upon millions of people have watched the adventures of Andy, Barney and the gang. However, none of us have ever questioned the disappearance of Mrs. Taylor.

The killer goes quiet for the next nine years. I cannot find any instances of him striking any of our beloved TV families. Nonetheless, in 1969 he makes himself known again by eliminating Helen Corbett the wife of handsome, 30-something magazine publisher Tom Corbett. The show is "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," which references Helen's young son, Eddie. We are never given any explanation as to what happened to Helen. We are left with only questions and no answers.

Lastly, we come to an instance of the killer breaking his pattern. In this instance, not only does he kill the wife but he also exterminates the husband. I am referring, of course, to the spouses of the parents of "The Brady Bunch." In 1969, Mike Brady marries Carol Martin when they are both conveniently single after having been married and having three children with their previous spouses. Mike explains in the first episode that his wife died but no explanation is ever given for the disappearance of Carol's husband. What happened to Mr. Martin? The world deserves an explanation.

I will end my investigation there for now. But, I have become much more vigilant when watching old television shows. I have my eyes on "The Golden Girls." I think there could be something sinister afoot there.

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