"Into the Widow's Web"

(Original air date 3/23/66)


Heath finds more than he bargained for when he takes the blame for killing
an old love's drunken husband


Teleplay: Ken Trevey & Gerry Day

Story: Ken Trevey

Director: Virgil W. Vogel

A travelling show's street performance has everyone in Stockton cheering, including Heath and Jarrod. Among the performer is singer Liberty Keen (Kathleen Nolan), Heath's old flame. A drunken man (King Donovan) staggers into view, asking for a sample of her singing talent but when his request is denied, he pulls out a gun and shoots the feathers off Liberty's hat. Heath pounces on the man unaware that the shooting was part of the act.

The town lawyer, Attorney Phil Archer (David Sheiner), demands that the show's manager, Fats Mortenson (Joe Higgins), be arrested for disturbing the peace. Heath asks Jarrod to act as their lawyer to convince the sheriff (Ken Lynch) to release them. Jarrod is puzzled as to why Heath would ask him to defend perfect strangers.


At the sheriff's office, Jarrod tries to obtain Mr. Mortenson's release on bail. Archer is adamantly against it stating that the shooting might have led to serious consequences and that the entire matter should not be taken lightly. Jarrod insists and proposes that the troop do a free performance at the town orphanage.

Meanwhile, Heath gets in touch with Liberty and invites her out to a fancy dinner during which they reminisce over old times. She laments over the fact that she never made it as a singer, whereas Heath's dreams of a better life came true for him. Then Libby casts a gloom over the perfect evening by telling Heath that the drunken man in the show is in fact her husband, Ambrose. Heath is flabbergasted and escorts Liberty back to the theatre at once.

Ambrose surprises them and orders Heath to leave Liberty alone. Inside, he begins to beat her. Her screams alert Heath who dashes back to the theatre backstage entrance and bursts in. The lamp is knocked over and gunfire resound in the dark. The sheriff arrives on the scene and finds Heath, hunched down by the corpse, a gun in his hand, admitting to killing the man.


Heath is arrested and thrown in jail next to Cully Tedrow (Lewis Charles), a man who despises the Barkleys for the special treatments they receive on account of their name and wealth.

In the outer office, Archer interrogates a shaken Libby about the crime and her past relation with Heath. Jarrod arrives to learn of Heath's arrest. Libby explains that he killed her husband in self-defence but fails to convince Archer who schedules an inquest. Jarrod suspects jealousy from his old schoolmate, wanting to vent it out on Heath.

Just before the inquest, Heath is allowed out of jail and goes to the funeral parlor to take Liberty back to the ranch to freshen up.


He introduces her to Victoria and Audra and she is graciously offered the Barkleys' hospitality for a few days. In the parlour, a relaxed Heath makes himself comfortable while Jarrod assails him with questions, trying to hammer the hard fact into his brother's thick skull that he's in serious trouble.

At the inquest, the sheriff describes the scene of the crime as he saw it: Heath with a gun in his hand admitting to killing Ambrose. Then Libby takes the stand in Heath's defence but Archer attempts to call her bluff.


On the train ride back to Stockton, Nick learns of Heath's arrest in the papers. An arrogant reporter, Judd Fletcher (Harlan Warde) , accosts him for a comment. Nick has nothing to say. When he pushes his button by saying that the old man's colt should never have come out of the woods, Nick grabs him by the collar and glowers at him, warning him never to refer to his brother as such.

Victoria visits Heath at the jail but is quickly removed from the premises by Archer who forbids the prisoner from having any visitor. Victoria is puzzled as to the reason why he won't let her visit with her son and Archer answers that he doesn't want Heath to receive preferential treatment. Victoria is angry that the press has twisted several facts about the case and most irate that her son should be held responsible for something he has no control over: the name he bears.

Outside, she meets with Nick who wants to tell Heath that he's here if he needs him. Jarrod will convey the message. Seconds later, reporter Fletcher runs into Nick and gloats over his next article on how the Barkleys are out to use their name and wealth to get Heath off the hook. Victoria stops Nick from ripping the man apart.


Back at the ranch, Liberty pleads with Jarrod not to let Heath take the blame for what has happened. The two brothers begin to entertain suspicions about what really occurred that night.

Jarrod informs Heath of his intention to hire another lawyer to defend him. Public opinion is running against them and they need someone outside the family. No need for another attorney since Liberty confesses to killing her husband. Archer suspects that Jarrod is behind her sudden emotional heartpouring. Liberty admits to being a sharp shooter and Archer puts her to the test by handing her a gun and asks her to shoot a precise target on the wall. She fails.


Jarrod goes to the troop manager and learns of Liberty's shooting abilities. Jarrod then visits with Archer to fill him in on his latest findings. He's convinced Liberty had a strong motive for wanting her husband dead and proposes to exhume Ambrose's body to retrieve the bullet for comparison with Heath's gun. Archer is against the idea of disturbing a person's soul. Jarrod thinks that it's more important to have justice for the living as opposed to respect for the dead.

Jarrod goes to a judge to obtain the exhumation order and he and Nick begin to unearth the body.


Archer finally agrees to the bullet analysis. On a bank scale he tests Jarrod's theory. Much to his amazement, Archer admits that he was wrong and that the bullet indeed belongs to a different gun than Heath's. Liberty is caught; she grabs a gun on the table and shoots the lights off. Gunfire is heard and she runs out to the streets.

Heath inches towards her and with a smile, mesmerizes Libby into dropping her gun. She slumps into Heath's arms, wounded in the side. Before heaving her last breath, she confesses to having to kill her husband for the way he was treating her, that it was her only escape, but that she never wanted to hurt Heath.

Following the tragedy, Victoria comforts Heath by telling him that Libby was a woman too weak to live with her mistakes. That she sought the wrong things in life when she could have had so much with Heath by her side.


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