The deaths of Santa Barbara
Madeline Laurent's death


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While Amy and Brick Wallace finalize the preparation of the wedding of Nick Hartley and Kelly Capwell which will be held in the afternoon of April 4, 1986 at the Capwell villa, Madeline Laurent, as usual, shows authority. Strong of the power and rights related to her birth (she is a Capwell), she demands from Pearl Bradford that he drives her to a motel for a meeting. Pearl protests that it is his day off and, in addition, that he is especially dedicated to the service of C.C. Capwell. On this wedding day, Madeline does not give up an inch of land : her uncle has already given her permission to use the limousine. Pearl can do no other than to put on his driver's suit, with the hope that they will be back in time for the wedding.

The Capwell limousine stops in front of the entrance of an independent room of a motel of the city. Before Madeline gets out of the car, Pearl calls her and asks her many questions. How soon will she be back ? What is she doing here, it makes a week that she goes there every day ? Madeline is no woman to give explanations especially to a simple driver. Her only answers are that she will be back in an hour, which will allow her to attend the wedding and, then, she requires Pearl to mind his own business. Madeline tells him that what she comes to do here is not his concern, his job is to answer simply and only "yes Madame", "no Madame". With these words, Madeline leaves the car and enters the room.

To relieve his boredom and fill the waiting time, Pearl makes phone calls and bets on a horse race. In the motel room, Madeline makes a phone call to Eden, her cousin, asking her for news of Kirk. After hanging up, Madeline feels satisfied. But as she turns around, her face becomes tense with horror...

Occupied by his race, Pearl does not notice the silhouette of a man, dressed in a raincoat, who leaves the room and passes by the limousine. Time continues to pass. Tired of waiting, angry, Pearl ends up getting out of the car to go into the room. Pushing the door, he discovers the scene : Madeline is lying inanimate on a carpet, a bloody hammer at her side. He rushes on the phone and tries to make a phone call to the rescue. His call does not succeeding, he approaches Madeline. He touches her right temple, place of the fatal hammer. He takes her pulse, when suddenly a maid enters the room, the arms loaded with clean towels. Pearl orders her to contact a doctor. Quickly. She needs care. The maid does not seem to realize the gravity of the situation. Suddenly, she seems to understand, starts screaming, throws the towels and leaves the room.

Pearl follows her and rushes into the limousine to make a phone call. Before he has dialed any number, the maid comes back, accompanied by the manager of the motel who, threatening him with his weapon, orders Pearl to leave the vehicle. Without really realizing it, Pearl left his fingerprints on the hammer, on Madeline (his fingers are stained with the victim's blood), on the door... We know that he is innocent, but Pearl leaves too many elements that can make him look guilty !

Called by phone at the Capwell villa, Cruz immediately goes to the place, curiously accompanied by Courtney, the victim's sister. He was with her then, at the Capwell villa, talking about the wedding with Sophia and C.C.. When they arrive at the motel, a policeman is handcuffing Pearl. Cruz enters the room : Madeline's body is covered with a sheet and a policeman, at her side, notes the first observations. That is what Courtney finds out when she stops on the room doorstep. She panics. She screams. But she wants to go back into the room and see her sister. At Cruz's request, the sheet is lift from Madeline's face. Courtney recognizes her and starts to cry. Screams and cries... Courtney breaks down. However, she pulls herself together very quickly. She yells at Pearl to explain what happened; he had to watch over her, to protect her... Pearl, in the absence of a lawyer, swears that he did nothing. He found her that way when he entered the room. He swears it and begs Courtney to believe him. But, in Courtney's mind, the facts are there and the consequence is obvious : Pearl killed her sister. She was convinced of this solution until she notices a cigarette butt on the carpet, at the foot of the bed. And if... And if Pearl were telling the truth...

Cruz comes back with the maid and the director of the motel. Both bring their testimony. She saw Pearl above Madeline's body. He saw no one and found Pearl in the car. And, for the good of his friend, Cruz takes the only decision that is necessary, he makes him arrested. It is at this moment that the policeman finds that Madeline is still alive, he found a pulse on her wrist. How much time happened since the attack ? Cruz also observes that she is alive and orders to contact the rescue, under Courtney's bewildered eyes.

The beginning of the investigation then takes place in Cruz's office. Ready to do anything to help his friend, he questions him to understand what could have happened in this motel room. Pearl confirms that it had already been eight or nine times that he accompanied Madeline on the scene, sometimes even twice in the same day ! He never saw anyone join her. She was away for about an hour... During the interrogation, a real tension settles between the two friends, tension that is accentuated with the arrival of Julia Wainwright, Pearl's lawyer. Here again, Pearl gets carried away from Julia's first question : What is his name ? Pearl does not understand why, today, in the eyes of his friends, he can no longer be Pearl. Why, now, must he become another person than the person that Cruz and Julia know ? It is not his name that will make him an innocent or a culprit in front of the jury. Julia tells him the reality : a woman was mortally wounded. He was present in the room. She must know everything about him, his name and secrets, to better defend him. If he refuses Julia's help in the first place, he knows that to protect his identity, he must seek the help of someone else, if only to pay his bail... He dials a number and asks to speak to the ambassador (his father) before hanging up.

Back at the Capwell villa, Courtney is taken in charge by her family : C.C. and Ted surround her. C.C. explains to Ted Madeline's health state : even if she still breathes, her brain is no longer active, she is in a brain death state. And as she takes her courage with both hands, Courtney dials the phone number of her brother-in-law David Laurent, in New York. And while she is typing the numbers, the image of the cigarette on the blue carpet stands out in her mind. What if... What if Pearl was telling the truth...

C.C. makes a call to reach David, and orders to be called back as soon as he has the message. Courtney is devastated, she can't believe what is going on.

And if... And if Pearl was telling the truth... In Courtney's mind, there is a doubt... Then she decides to return to the scene of the drama. And it is a calm Courtney who presents herself to the police officer who makes the latest recordings. She presents herself as the sister of the person who was attacked. The police officer agrees to let her enter, on the one and only condition that she does not touch anything. Courtney agrees. She is going to sit on the bed next to the cigarette. It is actually a cigarette with a shiny filter. As she bends over, the police officer notices her gesture and stops her : it is an evidence. Courtney apologizes and leaves. The policeman picks up the evidence and slides it into a plastic bag.

Julia comes to warn Pearl that he is free. Someone has paid his bail. When he leaves the police station, he finds Courtney who came to pick him up. He understands that she is the one who paid his bail. She explains to him that she thought about it and that she knows that he has nothing to do with the crime against her sister. They hug each other; Pearl is happy with Courtney's change of behavior...

It is free that Pearl, then first suspect in the attack of Madeline Capwell Laurent, leaves the police station of Santa Barbara. Some new trials await him, including the reconstitution of the aggression tomorrow at the motel, organized by Cruz. Cruz's in-depth investigation, the explanations during the trial, will over time highlight the inconsistencies of the writers, in what is perhaps the less well-prepared death of a character of the show.

In the motel room, Cruz makes the scene replay to Pearl, first witness of the murder of Madeline. His explanations should be reliable... He went into the room. He saw Madeline's body and the hammer beside her. He rushed to the phone, it was disconnected. However, before facing her attacker, Madeline had just made a phone call to Eden at the Stanford hospital. It is possible that the phone was disconnected by her attacker. Then, Pearl crouched down next to Madeline. He took her pulse on her wrist, on her neck. He moved the hammer, which explains the blood on his hand. It is in the middle of this re-enactment that a man enters. He rushes on Pearl and tries to strangle him by calling him a murderer... This man is David Laurent, Madeline's husband, who arrives from Boston while Courtney believed him in New York. This will be the first face-to-face between Julia and David.

Very quickly, Courtney's suspicions go on David, her brother-in-law. Even if she describes him as a nice person, she suggests, during her interrogation by Cruz, that David is a solar person, who does not leave women indifferent. These suspicions are accentuated when Courtney finds, in David's belongings, cigarettes with a brilliant filter. It is curious that David can smoke such cigarettes, one might have expected a woman to smoke them, more sensitive to this kind of details. Courtney talks about it to Pearl, who talks about it to his lawyer, Julia. A new suspect is in the sight of justice. After Julia, it is to Cruz that he tells the story : besides, Courtney believes to have seen the silhouette of David near the motel. If Pearl drove Madeline to the motel several times, he never mentioned Courtney's presence during these mysterious appointments. Courtney is certain, David could be, no David is the murderer of her sister. He had a motive : Madeline wanted to ask for divorce, which would have greatly reduced David's accessibility to the Capwell money.

Harassed by Cruz's questions, David ends up confessing his lies. He was not in New York. He was already in Santa Barbara. He met Madeline on April 3rd at the motel. Wasn't Madeline supposed to develop a strategy to rehabilitate her father and take back with him the inheritance that was rightfully theirs ? David explains to Cruz that Madeline wanted to divorce him, but that he loved her. He tried to change her mind. While searching his belongings, Cruz finds cufflinks stained with blood. After analysis, it appears that the blood matches his wife's. Again, at the Capwell villa, David is questioned by Cruz, this time to tell the truth. And it is eye to eye with Courtney that David tells his truth. Yes, he was present in Santa Barbara, because he suspected that Madeline was having an affair. When he arrived at the motel, the door was closed. Pearl must have been very busy shopping and listening to music not to notice the presence of a man, while the limousine was parked right outside the motel room entrance. For a moment, he thought she had left. Then he pushed the door. There was blood everywhere. He approached her. He shouted her name to try to wake her up. Then he left, understanding the reality...

In parallel, Pearl, during a hypnosis session, relives his wait in the limousine, the day of the murder. In his memory, he sees the silhouette of a person (a man, a woman), dressed in a gray raincoat. The plot on the identity of the murderer is thus revived, opening the field of possibilities more widely...

Cruz arrests David Laurent for the murder of his wife, Madeline. And David strangely hires the only lawyer he knows in town, Julia Wainwright. Julia agrees to handle David's defense. She knows, not without displeasure, that she will face at the bar Mason Capwell, who will represent the prosecution. During the trial, Julia must play the tightrope walker : she must try to spread doubt around David's guilt by suggesting other possible culprits, including her own brother-in-law, Lionel Lockridge. Lionel had several meetings with Madeline in order to set up a plan of revenge against C.C..

The trial will not reveal the identity of the murderer. It will bring a little more trouble and confusion as to the personalities of Madeline and David, without however responding to the presence of David, and that of the murderer, at the scene of the crime. David, contrary to appearances, will show himself a charming man (Julia will not resist his charm), unfaithful (with at least two mistresses), sometimes violent but innocent of the murder of his wife. The statement of David's innocence does not answer the question on the identity of the murderer, nor does it answer the questions on the presence of David in the room without Pearl noticing him, or on the presence of the cigarette in the room (which Sheila Carlyle implying it is also her favorite brand).

During their relationship, David booked a stay in a cottage. After the trial, Julia decides to celebrate with him his acquittal, while he chooses to get away from Sheila until he has received Madeline's inheritance. Julia puts her belongings in David's travel bag, without knowing that it is already partially filled. While she empties the bag, Julia finds hidden in a bloody towel, a dumbbell, also covered with blood. Julia wonders... Julia doubts... Julia begs that this is not true... If the dumbbell is the murder weapon, what happens to the bloody hammer found right next to Madeline's body ? Are there two murder weapons ? A call to the Santa Barbara police confirms to her that the size of Madeline's wound corresponds perfectly to the size of the dumbbell. Julia, in tears, knows that doubt is no longer allowed. She made innocent a murderer. She fell in love with a murderer !

With the arrival of David at the chalet, a curious game of cat and mouse settles between them. Julia tries to hide her fears as best she can and David tries to find out what his lawyer knows. And when he understands that Julia imagines him to be the murderer of Madeline, anger prevails. As in the movie The Shinning, David takes an axe and breaks the door of the bathroom, where Julia had took refuge. Their chase ends not with a face-to-face encounter between the two of them, but with a three-way confrontation, with the surprising arrival of Sheila Carlyle, a weapon in her hand. This confrontation makes it possible to draw up a new list of facts and to consider it as certain. Moreover, it will be Cruz's conclusions. Neither David nor Sheila are the murderers of Madeline. So, as Courtney raises it : who is the murderer of Madeline ? As in a Cluedo game, the suspects (David, Sheila, Lionel, Pearl) and the weapons of the crime (a hammer, a dumbbell) succeed each other.

The departure of David and Grant Capwell, associated with the arrival of Pearl in Dr. Rawlings' asylum, postpone the investigation to the background. Only Courtney still seems to be involved in the investigation. Months go by and the investigation does move forward. It is only months later, when Courtney reveals the affair between her sister and district attorney Keith Timmons, that the investigation is restarted. Keith then becomes the new suspect.

In parallel, Courtney begins to have strange visions : she sees her sister who accuses her of being guilty of killing her. The visions are violent for Courtney, who seems not to understand the accusations of her older sister. And very quickly, Keith shows very little credibility in the skin of a murderer. Courtney no longer knows what to believe : her visions or her quest for guilt. Then, as often, the arrival of a new look will enlighten facts and personalities through a new angle.

This new look is Brian Bradford, Pearl's younger brother, who has it. As a successful author of detective novels, he becomes very quickly interested in the murder of Madeline, especially since it remains unsolved to this day. Rigorous writer, he is interested in the personality of the victim, but also of his relatives and the potential suspects. He quickly comes to two conclusions : Courtney is guilty of the murder of Madeline and, unconsciously, she wishes the truth to be revealed. Brian opens up to his brother, who doesn't believe in that theory. Pearl tells Courtney about his brother, who does his best to make her understand that she loved her sister and that she would have done everything for her.

However, Brian is confident. He manages to convince Pearl to play a trick on Courtney and to bring to life a scene of the novel that he is writing. This scene is in fact a fatal altercation between two sisters. Pearl accepts and waits for Courtney in the same bungalow where Madeline was killed. Courtney arrives and Pearl explains to her that he believes her and that he trusts in her, that he will not abandon her, no matter what happened in this room. Between fear and challenge, Courtney looks at him and asks, "What do you think happened, Pearl ?" Pearl plunges the room in the dark and two women arrive. One is Madeline. The other is Courtney. Courtney panics. Both women play the roles defined by Brian. The false Courtney reproaches the false Madeline for having stolen from her all the men who were interested in her, including David Laurent. The tone goes up. And the fake Courtney lifts a dumbbell... Suddenly Courtney yells, "It's not like that...".

Courtney faces Pearl and Brian, and points a gun at them. She confesses that she killed her sister, and that no one will know. Pearl, although threatened, continues to show his confidence. Courtney then confesses the truth, the whole truth. They were meeting at the bungalow. Madeline was waiting for her. Madeline threatened her with a gun. Madeline wanted to kill her sister to be the sole heiress. Madeline had organized everything. It would be the perfect crime. She explains that she was going to kill her sister in self-defense. Madeline had planned everything as explained in the details in the diary she read to her sister. Everything is written, Courtney's hatred of her, her fears... Then Madeline took out the dumbbell and ordered Courtney to take it. Courtney tries to defend herself and, in a movement of struggle, pushes back the hand of Madeline who holds the revolver. A shot resounds.

Madeline slowly fell to the ground, mortally wounded. Blows were made at the door. Courtney gets the gun and the diary back before running away. A person enters... David... Sheila... We'll never know...

If Courtney leaves Santa Barbara very quickly and without any problem with justice, Madeline's death will keep a taste of unfinished story. How to believe this version told by Courtney, when the facts show the opposite. This "confession" raises many questions for which we will never have an answer.

How did Madeline die ? Since the autopsy did not show any gunshot wounds, it is certain that the gunshot fired during the argument could not hurt or kill Madeline. The fatal blow came from a blunt object. The bloody hammer found near the body ? The dumbbell presented to Courtney by her sister and which ended up in David's belongings ? So many details forgotten by the writers that make us puzzled.

What is the motive for the murder ? Madeline had lovers (including Keith). Can we assume that a rejected lover, a jealous lover, wanted to get rid of that man-eater ? Are we to assume that an unhappy associate, ruined because of Madeline, committed murder ?

The real question remains : who is the murderer of Madeline ? To which character were the writers oriented ? Which character was supposed to occupy, perhaps for a time, the first place under the spotlights ? Grant ? Lionel ? A rejected lover ?... The list of potential suspects could be very long.

The plot of Madeline's death will have missed its conclusion. Is it due to lack of credible culprit ? No, not necessarily. Several factors are to be taken into account, and which can explain the relative missteps of the writers in the writing of this plot. First, Kirk Cranston needed a heart. Since Kirk could not die, a character had to be sacrificed to offer him this chance to survive. Madeline quickly appeared as the only possible character. Madeline died without a murderer being clearly defined (as a proof the differences on the murder weapon and Pearl's memories which evolved thanks to his hypnosis session). Then, if the murderer was to be linked to Grant's revenge against C.C., Grant's lack of charisma quickly cut off this possibility. Then, the high quality of the other storylines (the death of Dylan Hartley, the videotape storyline, the death of Mary DuVall, the death of Amy Perkins) took the main place over Madeline's death. The end of 1986 arriving, the writers had to conclude it.

After having used several culprits (and perhaps too quickly David), the writers had to find a secondary character to eliminate. With the plot around Kelly and Pearl, the disappearance of Grant, the character of Courtney Capwell appears well isolated. It was out of simplicity and almost obviousness that the choice of the culprit was made on her... Still, a doubt remains, if the original culprit was not Courtney, who was he ? As in a Cluedo game, if we have the certainty of the place, the possibilities for the weapons and for the culprits are many...

Text written for this site by Lilian