Verity Chandler is a tabloid television journalist. Her present target is Eric Prince, the mortician to the stars. It seems that years ago Prince and Chandler were involved and Prince would give her info on celebrities that he discovers when he is preparing them. Prince would dump her and she has vowed to get back at him. It seems that she knows how Prince was able to build his empire and when she threatens him, he kills her on the spot. He then places her in the casket of Chuck Houston, a Hollywood actor, who was about to be cremated. He places Chuck Houston in storage. He then cremates Verity, and places her ashes in an urn and gives it to Houston's widow who then scatters over the Hollywood sign. He then goes to Verity's home, alters the story she wrote on Prince and trashes the place and leaves. The next day Verity's assistant calls the police and Columbo appears. He looks around and discovers among other things her dog which apparently has not been fed. Columbo deduces if she did come home why didn't she feed the dog. He then looks through appointment book and sees that she went to the Chuck Houston funeral. He then goes there and meets Prince, who says she came and left. He also finds some pictures and one of them is a mansion. He finds it and learns that it was once the home of a Hollywood actress, and is told by the present owner of the story her missing diamond necklace, which has been sought ever since she died several years ago. He then goes to the cab driver who drove Verity on the day she disappeared and knows that he was once a fence and Verity was investigating what happened to the diamonds and that the driver was the one who unloaded it and the man he did it for was Prince. So Prince stole the diamonds sold them so that he could buy mortuary that he was working at at the time. But Columbo still doesn't have anything to link him to Verity's disappearance. But Columbo after speaking to Chuck Houston's widow knows what he did. Later that night another client who was about to scatter her husband ashes was called back by Columbo. He then asks her if her husband was in the military and was he ever wounded. And she says no. Columbo then goes through her husband's ashes and pulls a piece of stainless steel, which he says was in Chuck Houston's body, a war injury. It seems that Prince cremated Chuck Houston with another man, her husband. Columbo then asks him how could a part Chuck Houston be in her husband's remains, when he said he cremated Chuck Houston and gave it to his wife, who then scattered it. With no where to go Prince is caught and walks with Columbo to the police car.