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The Case of the Three Frightened Policemen

Season 8
Nov 16, 1941

Major Characters:

  • The Shadow/Lamont Cranston
  • Detective Sloan: A Detroit Force policeman.
  • Tom Vetor: A former mobster and accused of John Randley's murder.
  • Mrs. Vetor: Tom's wife.
  • Elsie Randley: Mrs. Vetor's friend and roommate.
  • Lieutenant Destrow: A policeman from the Chicago Detective Bureau.
  • John Rowan: A mobster and Tom Vetor's former boss.

Featured Agents:

  • Margo Lane
  • Commissioner Weston
  • Shrevvy

Minor Characters:

  • Hospital Doctor
  • Man on the Street
  • Morgue Attendant

Synopsis: (Warning! Contains spoilers!)
Mobster Jerry Rowan is addressing a man pacing the room before him. It seems that this man has a gambling debt and owes Rowan money. As the man hears the charges, he begins to laugh maniacally, unnerving Rowan. Suddenly, he turns on Rowan and kills him...

At the airport, Lamont and Margo are waiting for Commissioner Weston to return from his trip. It turns out that Margo sent him a telegram in Lamont's name asking him to return as soon as possible. At Gate 6, where Weston's flight will arrive, Margo notices a man at Gate 3. He was asking for Weston earlier. Lamont notes that he's at the wrong gate and figures he'll realize his mistake soon. Weston soon joins them, and finds out that Margo has sent him the telegram. Margo belongs to the Social Welfare Association and promised its members that she'll get Weston to speak to them about crime prevention and its cause and cure. Meanwhile, there seems to be a fuss being kicked up at Gate 3. On investigation, Detective Sloan from the Detroit force has apprehended a man. Sloan shows Weston a police circular from Chicago with the man's picture on it. The man's name is Tom Vetor, the man who killed Jerry Rowan. The man protests and tells them he's not Vetor, but he's taken away by Sloan and Weston. Margo, who hasn't gotten Weston's agreement about the speech, decides to follow him.

At the station, the man has admitted he's Vetor but denies that he killed Rowan, even though his fingerprints were found all over Rowan's apartment and he was the last to see him alive. Vetor had also broken parole and fled to Chicago. Lamont and Margo arrive, and Margo slyly suggests to Weston that he should use the subject of Vetor at the Social Welfare speech. Weston tells Sloan to take Vetor to another room so he can deal with Lamont and Margo. Lamont finds that this case has a few holes in it. For example, why had Vetor fled and then returned? Weston dismisses Lamont. Sloan comes in, and tells him that Vetor is ready to confess. Weston leaves to join him, leaving Lamont and a more exasperated Margo. Lamont notes that the police circular is printed locally instead of Chicago.

The Shadow visits Vetor at his jail cell. Vetor still denies he killed Rowan, in fact he didn't know he was murdered. Vetor had visited Rowan at his apartment in the afternoon because Rowan had called him to persuade him to rejoin the mob, but Vetor refused the offer. That evening Vetor receives a message that his wife had left him and has gone to Chicago. Vetor goes there, hoping to patch things up and convince her to give him another chance. Failing to find his wife, he receives a tip that she's in New York staying at the Carlton Hotel with her friend Elsie Randley, so he returns. The Shadow tells him that his story won't hold up in court, but Vetor protests his innocence.

Later, Lamont decides to take a hungry Margo to the Carlton Hotel to visit Randley. Suddenly shots ring out and Lamont tells her to get down. When the firing ceases, Margo realizes Lamont has been wounded, and asks a man on the street to fetch a doctor.

In his hospital room, Lamont learns from a doctor about how lucky he was from death. Weston appears to see how he's doing. Weston is convinced Vetor is the killer, but Lamont disagrees. Sloan arrives to tell them that Vetor has hung himself from a water pipe in his cell.

Around 3:00am, Shrevvy is driving both Lamont and Margo from the hospital when Lamont asks him to stop at 6078 Front Street—The Morgue. Shrevvy feels a bit ill at that point but does as he's told. Leaving Margo to look after a very green Shrevvy, Lamont goes in to view Vetor's body. The morgue attendant, having been around corpses for a long time, annoys Lamont with his morbid puns. Upon seeing Lamont's reaction to his "jokes" he declares to himself that Lamont has no sense of humor. Careful examination of Vetor's body reveals to Lamont that this was no suicide. He decides to visit Vetor's widow.

The Shadow finds Mrs. Vetor trying unsuccessfully to contact someone. He demands to know who it was. Mrs. Vetor tells him that she's worried about her friend and roommate Elsie Randley; she hasn't come home. The Shadow shows her a picture of her husband, which she immediately identifies. She had divorced him as her love for him had died, and she is now in love with someone else. She tells The Shadow that she will explain it to him, but is met with the news of his death. Mrs. Vetor is shocked and saddened. The Shadow asks her who might have been involved, but before she can reveal anything she is shot. Even in her dying breath she knew who had killed her but refuses to tell, as the killer "will haunt (her) even in death".

Lamont meets up with Weston, who declares he has found the murderer of both Rowan and Mrs. Vetor: Elsie Randley. Randley had been Rowan's ex-girlfriend and killed him because he had given her the "brush-off", and had also killed Mrs. Vetor because she knew. Lamont tells him that Vetor was beaten to death. The wound on his head is hard to spot unless you look hard enough. This was a professional job. Lieutenant Destrow from the Chicago Detective Bureau arrives to tell them that the police circular from their office was a forgery to cast suspicion on Vetor. Weston, Sloan, and Destrow agree that Randley is the killer. Lamont warns them that if something happens to her, they would all be three frightened policemen.

Lamont tells Margo to visit Randley in her cell while he trails Destrow. Sloan takes Margo to Randley, unbeknownst to the warden and Weston, knowing that he might lose his job over it. Randley refuses to tell Margo anything, but Sloan is strangely encouraging her to reveal the killer to Margo. Sloan suddenly admits that Randley knew he was behind it all. He had killed Rowan because of his gambling debts, then put Vetor on a wild goose chase after his wife to pin the murder on him. He made up a phony police circular using a picture of Vetor he stole from Mrs. Vetor, and used it to nab Vetor at the airport. He was also the one who killed Mrs. Vetor, and attempted to kill Lamont. Now he would get rid of both Margo and Randley. He takes Margo to the electric chair and straps her in. Randley tries to stop him but is knocked to the ground (she's possibly dead at this point). As Margo screams, he turns up the electric generator. When he looks up, he sees her limp body. Surprised that she had succumbed to the chair so quickly, he decides to make sure she's dead by throwing the switch. Luckily, The Shadow stops him. Sloan isn't about to take the fall for the murders and electrocutes himself by touching the main switch.

It seems that Margo had fainted on the electric chair, an act which saved her life and fooled Sloan that she was already dead. Lamont is regretful that he had trailed the wrong person and put Margo into a death trap. He reveals that Sloan had gotten into the force with false credentials.

After all this excitement, Margo's still concerned with the Social Welfare Association meeting. Since Weston couldn't come, there will be a new speaker: Lamont!

 

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