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Dragnet

Season 4 Episode 2

Homicide - The Student

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Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Sep 25, 1969 on NBC

Episode Recap

Friday opens this episode talking about people putting in a hard day and then return home. It can take 10 minutes or 2 hours. People like to unwind after work at home, go out to one of 560 movie theaters or 27 drive-ins. Friday continues talking about Los Angeles being the city of the drive-in and the drive-through and there are 125 drive through car washes. Life is fast and convenient in LA and it's a great place to life. Friday says, "I try to keep it that way. I carry a badge."



The story we're about to see is true. They changed the names to protect the innocent. The logo appears saying this is Dragnet 1970.



It is Tuesday, May 21st, a clear day, Friday and Gannon are working the day watch out of homicide. The boss is Captain Hugh Brown.



The episode opens with Bill Gannon doing an exercise, which Friday thinks is yoga. Gannon is practicing a new method to help people sleep, which has people trying to do the opposite of what they need to day. If you're awake you try to sleep, which will keep you awake and the opposite at night. It doesn't seem to be working, as Gannon looks sleepy.



Captain Hugh Brown informs Friday and Gannon about a sniper shooting with two victims (man and a woman) at the Draftco Printing plant in the May Park area. SID is on the way, too. Victims: Fred Keller (foreman) and Barbra Hill (secretary). There are no witnesses and both victims shot while entering the building. Fred Keller had two slugs in his head. Barbra Hill has one in her head in almost the same identical position as those found in Fred's head. Murder weapon is a 22 caliber rifle according to Gannon who read the ballistic report. They spend the rest of the day at Draftco going over the employee records and stay well into the night.



The next day Friday discovers their first lead a college student who works part time. This student and Fred Keller had a beef a couple of weeks ago. This employee didn't show up for his shift on the day of the shooting; his name is Jeff Buckram, 18, student at May Park Junior College. Keller jumped the boy (not too hard) for powering up one of the big rotary presses. The boy turned White with anger and doubled up fists; Keller told him to cool it and walked away. The boy simply stood there with White knuckles. Everyone walked away.



Friday and Gannon go to the junior college to find Jeff, but he isn't there. They speak to his English teacher. Jeff never misses class. Presently, he is reading French literature and has an outlook on life, which is both dark and calls one to action on their feelings and opinions.



Friday and Gannon go to the Jeff's home. There they meet his Aunt, a fundamentalist Bible reader who says Jeff's reading poisoned him against the Lord. Jeff is reading French literature (Gustave Flaubert), which his Aunt says is a work by the devil. During questioning Jeff says he does not own a gun and he missed work and class because of baseball injury. Friday and Gannon leave saying Jeff is lying. Gannon says the way to know about a boy is to talk to his baseball coach. Friday and Gannon now consider Jeff a suspect.



The coach reports Jeff quit the baseball team two weeks ago and did not injure his leg this past Monday. The coach could never understand why Jeff came out for baseball, as he didn't have any team spirit. The only time he seemed alive was when he was batting or pitching, otherwise he sat on the bench reading. The coach felt he had the makings of a good baseball pitcher, but he lacks control. When he quit his reason was to work more hours, so he could buy a rifle and maybe go hunting.



The go downtown to get an arrest and search warrant, as they now have probable cause. Returning to his home, they discover he left immediately after their first visit. His aunt says he didn't have a gun, but he took her car. Her concern is not having a way to get around town and after hearing about the arrest warrant she talks about the devil being in her nephew because of the French literature / books he reads. Friday takes one of the books; she tells him to return it not to the apartment but to the library (where it is overdue). Gannon puts an APB out on the Aunt's car, a Blue Ford. Their search uncovers nothing about the crime.



They head to the public library and talk to the head librarian. She says Jeff is one of her best customers. They show the library book to her (the librarian) and point out a torn out page (#67). They ask her about the page, she responds questioning why they are there asking about Jeff. They don't respond with the reason. She gets another copy of the book. The missing page is about killing a mouse, a bird with his bare hands and then the person' Mother and Father. The Gustave Flaubert book is about the legend of Saint Julius.



Checking with the office, there are no results on the APB for the suspect or the car. Returning to the suspect's English teacher, they question her about the book / legend. She says the book is the most famous one on the joys of killing. The English teacher says she concern and frighten for Jeff and a Nancy Morton, a possible girl friend (Jeff most like considers her his girl friend, while she wouldn't consider her to be his).



Friday and Gannon discovers Nancy is not at school and then goes to her home. She lets them in asking if Jeff is in trouble. Not answering her question, Gannon questions her about Jeff. She asks again and Friday takes over saying they are trying to find him. She says Jeff is different as he only wants to sit and talk or look at stuff. She really has been expecting Jeff to make a pass at her, as she is a Red Blooded American girl. She says they just missed Jeff and then talks about Jeff's world, about him not wanting people to touch him, and how dark his world must be for him.



Friday asks one final question concerning why Jeff stopped by to see her. He stopped by to pick up a 22 caliber rifle.



Jeff shows up at the May Park library. They find him and place him under arrest. This shocks the librarian who wonders if Flaubert was the reason. Friday responds to her saying, "Not the reason, just the excuse." Gannon gives Jeff his rights under the law, in the background.



The police find the Aunt's car in an alley and the 22 caliber rifle in the trunk. Jeff waves his right to a lawyer and freely talks to Gannon and then Friday. Jeff says tearing the page out was wrong. Friday responds saying "so is murder." Jeff says Flaubert was wrong. Murder wasn't full of delight, passionate and savage delight. Jeff felt scared, like when you break something owned by another person. You know someone has to catch you. You have to get punished. He realizes he'll never make it to sainthood, like Julian in Flaubert. Friday says, "You've got a long way to go."



On July 16th, trial was held in Department 184, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. The jury found the suspect guilty on two counts of first degree murder. Murder is punishable by death or life in prison. The court committed Jeffery Buckram to the Atascadero State Mental Hospital for observation.
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