Holly Hunter is Det. M.J. Monahan in Copycat ('95) with Signorney weaver as Helen Hudson and William McNamara as Peter Foley. Those names might mean little to you but Murder in Greenwich tells you they meant a lot to Mark Fuhrman
Naming a chapter and sticking to the main idea can be a challenge when many ideas overlap or flow into others that go in different directions. I’m calling this one Copycat just because it makes a handy bridge from what I wrote in the previous chapter. I’ll be hitting high points in several movies that relate to Murder in Greenwich. But I didn’t cheery pick movies for names, phrases, costumes, props or themes to fit my theses. I picked movies I had seen before because I thought I recalled something significant and movies I hadn’t seen because something in the synopsis told me to look for specific links.
I had more success with movies I hadn’t seen than the ones I had seen. When you think about the way memory moves things around it makes sense. Sharon Stone as a killer in Basic Instinct, a murder victim in Action Jackson and a book agent who makes a wisecrack about the Kenneys in Where Sleeping Dogs Lie, points you in three Murder in Greenwich directions. Where Sleeping Dogs Lie has the keys on the seat, the burning newspaper, the gardener’s rake, the golf club, the cookies, the playing cards and Martha’s dolls. The dolls take you to the Murder in Greenwich mannequins and back to Sharon Stone in Scissors.
In Scissors (’91), I recalled Sharon Stone as Angie at a party in a red dress standing next to Steve Railsback as Cole in a wheelchair. When I checked the videotape, I saw that Angie was standing next to Railsback as Cole’s twin brother Alex – who was standing next to a woman named Nancy in a red jacket. Nancy was standing next to Cole who was in the wheelchair. The only red in Angie’s ensemble was a small flower in her hair.
Another complicating factor in my false recollection was a continuation of the party scene where Angie does stand next to Cole in his wheelchair then moves around his studio to look at his paintings. She undrapes a painting of her in the nude clutching a doll and a man with a red beard and a red shirt standing over her menacingly. The conflicting thoughts in my mind that led me to this chapter were of wigs, false whiskers and the man in a wheelchair I anticipated when I saw the red dresses on the mannequins in Murder in Greenwich. In Scissors, Angie restores damaged dolls. The opening scene shows her looking at a doll in a junk shop window. I wasn’t looking for red dresses the first time I saw Scissors. It doesn’t take much to see where or why I went wrong.
When I was trying to think of the man who wrote the ’88 version of “Shadow Play” the only name that came to mind was James Beaumont. The man who wrote the original “Shadow Play” was Charles Beaumont. James Crocker wrote the newer version. When I was writing about Detroit, looking ahead to where I wanted to put Red Letters, Copycat and Scissors and tying to recall the name Ronny Cox, the only first name I could think of was Billy. I knew that was wrong so I called him Bobby just to fill the space on the page until the right name came to me. Neither of these choices was correct but they were far from random. “James Beaumont” needs no explanation. But look at the maze of name associations I had to go through to recall Ronny Cox….
In Dressed to Kill with Angie Dickinson as Kate who has a son named Peter, and Nancy Allen as Liz, Michel Caine is a psychiatrist named Robert. Robert turns into his murderous, wig-wearing, transsexual, alter ego Bobbie when a woman sexually arouses him. Sharon Stone appears in The Last Action Hero with Tom Noonan. In Robocop 2, set in Detroit, Noonan is a killer named Cain with a girlfriend named Angie. When he is hospitalized in critical condition Belinda Bauer as a ruthless corporate psychologist kills him. Ronnie Cox is Dick Jones in the original Robocop with Nancy Allen as Ann Lewis and Peter Weller as Alex Murphy. If you remember Cox in Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy as Detroit cop Axel Foley, you can see where Copycat with William McNamara as Peter Foley interfered with my recall.
A lot of wires can get crossed in those associations. And that’s the short list. The long list includes Sharon Stone in Action Jackson, Ernie Hudson in Collision Course and Charlotte Lewis in The Golden Child with Eddy Murphy. Axel and Alex have the same letters in a different order. Native Detroiter Sherilyn Fenn is Billie in Rude Awakening. Billy is a nickname for William. Bobby is an old nickname for London beat cops and for Robert, as in Robert MacNamara or Robert Forster who plays the homicidal psychiatrist in American Perfekt. In Scissors, Ronnie Cox is Dr. Carter, a homicidal psychiatrist. His cheating wife is running for political office.
Michelle Phillips as Mrs. Carter’s is having an affair. In Dillinger (’75), she is Billie. Dr. Carter kills his wife’s lover. Wearing false red whiskers, he stages a sexual assault on Angie in an elevator to set her up for the fall. In A Touch of Scandal (’84) Angie Dickinson is Katherine, a politician running for a higher office is having an extramarital affair with a prostitute named Billy. A killer leaves Billy’s body in her elevator.
Sharon Stone’s Angie is a 26-year-old virgin. During hypnoses Dr. Carter learns that the name “Billy” or “Billie” is the key to her sexual repression. He knows that she has repressed all memories of her stepfather who sexually molested her when she was a child and the fact that she saw her mother kill him with scissors. Carter knows that her stepfather’s name was Billy but he claims not to know whether it’s the name of a man or a woman. Billie is sill alive in Angie’s conscious mind but she knows only that someone named Billy has a red beard. When she sees a man at Alex’s party with a red beard she almost goes into hysterics accusing him of trying to rape her before she discovers her mistake.
During Jimmy Carter’s Presidency, the thoughtless antics of his brother Billy frequently made embarrassing news and once nearly caused an international incident. My Carter association was undoubtedly one of many that made “Billy” stick in my mind when I was thinking about Fuhrman and Weeks and visualizing the actor who plays Dr. Carter.
No one can avoid making associations like these. I make them. You make them. The man who murdered Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson made them. The man who wrote Murder in Brentwood made them. The man who co-wrote and produced the Murder in Greenwich movie made them. The same patterns are common to the physical evidence left at the Brentwood crime scenes by the killer, to Fuhrman’s investigation notes, recollections, discoveries, interpretations, reconstructions and metaphors.
My first hint that Detroit, the city I live in, might have a special meaning to Fuhrman came from three passages on page 82 and 83 of Murder in Brentwood. See if these lines don’t remind you of the target shooting scenes in Magnum Force, Robocop, Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop II, all of which feature a pistol shooting range scene:
“As a past member of the LAPD pistol team I was considered one of the best pistol shots in the department, and Brad wasn’t far behind, if at all.”…“The Scene was too much like a cop movie in which we weren’t sure of the script”… “Hundreds of camera lights combined to make the scene look like a movie set.”
Magnum Force is set in San Francisco where its star Clint Eastwood and O.J. Simpson were born. The connection to O.J. and Detroit is Felton Perry, “Dirty Harry’s” partner Early Smith. Perry is a firefighter in The Towering Inferno” with O.J. In the Robocop movie series, he’s Johnson, a top executive at OCP, the company that runs the City of Detroit. You see him standing behind Robocop and Miguel Farrar (MF) as “Bobby,” a “rude, arrogant son of a bitch,” at a Detroit Police Department shooting range. In Lethal Weapon Mel Gibson’s character takes a full shotgun blast in the chest. He is saved by his body armor but his assailments think he’s dead. He turns to his partner and says, “Why don’t we hide out in Detroit?” In Beverly Hills Cop II. Eddie Murphy is back with Ronny Cox as Axel Foley, the fast-talking loose cannon cop from Detroit.
On the witness stand in the O.J. Simpson murder trial Fuhrman said that his favorite sport was basketball. He said his two favorite basketball players were Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics. The nemesis of the Bulls and the Celtic in the late ’80s when Fuhrman wrote his letter to the city attorney about O.J. and the baseball bat incident were the Detroit Pistons lead by number 11 Isaiah Thomas. During O.J.’s murder trial a television crew videotaped Fuhrman playing basketball with an LAPD sergeant who wore a Detroit Pistons jersey with the number 11 and the name Thomas on the back.
In Fuhrman’s Murder in Greenwich book he could not avoid mentioning the role Detroit Homicide detectives played in his investigation of the Martha Moxley murder. Why did he drop them from his movie? Look at Action Jackson with Carl Withers, Craig T. Nelson and Sharon Stone….
In Action Jackson (’88), Sharon Stone is Patrice, the wife of a homicidal automaker named Peter Dellaplane. Craig T. Nelson is Peter Dellaplane. Carl Withers is Action Jackson, a Detroit homicide detective who sent Dellaplane’s son to prison. Dellaplane murders Patrice to frame Jackson.
Action Jackson is the nexus of movie links to Poltergeist with Craig T. Nelson and Dominique Dunne and Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Ronny Cox. Mary Ellen Trainor is a secretary in Action Jackson, an LAPD psychologist in Lethal Weapon and a TV reporter in Ricochet. Roger Aaron Brown is a cop in Action Jackson and Robocop 2 with Belinda Bauer as an OCP psychologist. Vanity links Action Jackson to 52 Pick-up. Jack Thibeau links it to Murder 101. Robert Davi links it to Maniac Cop 2 and The Peacemaker with Robert Forster. Bob Minor links it to The Choirboys with James Woods and Charles Durning.
Craig T. Nelson was Dominique Dunne’s father in Poltergeist. A jealous ex-boyfriend murdered the young actress on Halloween 1984. Her real father was Dominick Dunne, who lent his name to the full title of Fuhrman’s movie Dominick Dunne Presents: Murder in Greenwich. I don’t have space to name all of the links to Fuhrman in one chapter that radiate from the cast and the setting of Action Jackson. I don’t even have room to name all of the actors in Action Jackson or the movies linked to Fuhrman that radiate from them.
Sharon Stone has two co-stars in common who have something unusual in common with each other and with Mark Fuhrman and O.J. Simpson. Schwarzenegger and Withers are over 6’ tall and walk the same way – like the man who left the bloody shoeprints on the Bundy Drive. murder scene. Less than one man in ten walks that way. Less than one man in ten is over 6’ tall and wears size 12 shoes. That’s a fraction on one percent of all men who could have left the bloody shoeprints. O.J.’s prosecutors thought that the shoeprints alone were powerful evidence against him.
In Fuhrman’s 1989 letter to the city attorney about the baseball bat incident he said, “Upon arrival I observed two persons in the front of the estate, a black male pacing on the driveway….” Those words told me that he noticed how O.J. walked. He and O.J. were close to the same height and build so he must have noticed that they wore the same shoe size. Recalling the 1984 World Series, you can see how Detroit got mixed up in this encounter, why movies set in Detroit would resonate with Fuhrman and why he avoids naming the city in his movie.
This leads us to an actor you have seen in many movies although you probably won’t recognize his name. Stefan Gierasch is the Holey Redeemer Church custodian in The Rosary Murders (’87) who goes on stage. I wasn’t looking for him in The Rosary Murders before I saw Murder in Greenwich. I was looking for a train link to Jill Clayburgh’s character Hilly (Hildegarde) or Gene Wilder’s character George in Silver Streak. I found a train link in The Rosary Murders but it didn’t connect to Clayburgh, Wilder or any other actor in Silver Streak or their characters. I was particularly interested in Clayburgh’s because of the “French connection” she made on the train, which tied into what Fuhrman wrote in Murder in Brentwood about composite characters.
The train scenes in Murder in Greenwich gave me enough clues to know that there had to be a stronger link to Fuhrman in The Rosary Murders and Silver Streak. I found it in Stefan Gierasch’s role as Johnson, a professor impersonator in Silver Streak with Gene Wilder as George. I thought I had it with the name Stefan, as in Murder In Greenwich “technical advisor” Stephen Weeks, until I concentrated on the phony beard. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it would have something to do with Hildy Southerlyn. I started with logic…
The similarity between “Earl Hacker” in The Naked Gun 2 ½ and Gierasch’s role as a bad guy impersonating an influential professor is no coincidence. Both characters were taken from the duel role that Edward G. Robinson plays in The Prize (’63) with Paul Newman and Leo G Carroll. Carroll had a starring role in North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. Silver Steak is a thinly disguised comedic composite of both movies. In movies like this, the similarities are deliberate and astute viewers are supposed to catch them.
I’m not sure how much deliberate referencing to other movies goes on in Murder in Greenwich but I suspect that the director put in more of it than Fuhrman did. I just can’t see how Fuhrman could have done so much on his own consciously or subconsciously with the mannequins, the wig, the beard, the train and the names. You need Nixon who defeated McGovern, Elizabeth, and a train to make a specific connection to Elizabeth McGovern in Shock to the System, The Bedroom Window and Native Son. McGovern gives you Fuhrman’s agent Lucianne Goldberg and Monica Lewinsky. Goldberg infiltrated the McGovern camp to pull “dirty tricks” for the Nixon camp. To put Penguin Pool Murder, The Night Holds Terror and Sliver Streak together only Hildegarde will do.
To identify Stefan Gierasch as an important link between Silver Streak and Murder in Greenwich I had to start with someone else. I didn’t know Gierasch was important to Fuhrman. I didn’t know that he appeared in movies with Kate Jackson, Isabella Rossellini, Kelly Preston, Denis Arndt, Pierce Brosnan, Anne Francis, Miguel Ferrer, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Stacy Keach, and Christopher Meloni. I didn’t even know his name or why he looked familiar until I looked up “Johnson” in Silver Streak.
I started with a Murder in Greenwich extra who crops up for a second or two, usually in association with Hildy Southerlyn. The first time I noticed him he was in a scene with people getting off a train and walking in a crowd. He was holding a cell phone to his ear and he stood out because of it. When Silver Streak was made in 1976 the closest thing to a cell phone was in a public telephone booth. In Silver Streak you see Stefan Gierasch as Johnson without his phony whiskers in a phone booth next to a train with the receiver to his ear. Murder in Greenwich has two bearded men using a cell phone at the train station. A short one who looks the most like Edward G. Robinson in The Prize and a tall one who looks the most like Stefan Gierasch in Silver Streak.
When you merge the phony professors in The Naked Gun 2 ½, Silver Streak and The Prize you get someone very similar in appearance to the tall extra with the cell phone in Murder in Greenwich. I checked the biographies of the actors playing the phony professors and found one with a connection to Mark Fuhrman that couldn’t have been closer. Stefan Gierasch was born on February 5. So were actresses Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barbara Hershey and Charlotte Rampling, baseball slugger “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron and movie producer Mark Fuhrman. Murder in Greenwich has undeniable and nonessential links to all of them.
Gierasch as the phony professor gives you Fuhrman’s birthday. Hacker as the phony professor gives you everything associated with the Murder in Greenwich mannequins. The unidentified man with the cell phone at the train station and the whiskers gives you Peter Coyote in Red Letters. Red Letters gives you Thurston Clarque. It gives you Adam Grant in “Shadow Play” (’86) who gets tried, convicted and sentenced to hang in an endless nightmare. See what you get when you put those things together with these words that Fuhrman wrote in Murder in Brentwood: “In her closing, Marcia Clark not only indicted me, but she also tried, convicted, and figuratively sentenced me to death.” Fuhrman told Laura Heart that he did to that to “pimps, drug dealers and gang members.”
Fuhrman expressed deep admiration for Daryl Gates, his former Police chief infamous for endorsing LAPD practices that resulted in more “suspect” deaths than anyone could legitimately account for. Peter Foley deeply admired a killer named Daryll Lee Cullum. Like Fuhrman and his Daryl, Foley and his Daryll wrote encouraging letters to each other. The copycat murder that Foley plans to go out with in a blaze of glory is the one Daryll Lee didn’t complete because a cop showed up that he didn’t expect. Peter Foley knows that another cop is coming because he orchestrated her arrival.
Peter Foley got to Helen Hudson by posing as a cop with a phony mustache standing behind a cop she knew. He killed the cop, subdued Helen and made a video for the pursuing officer to follow alone to the place where Daryll Lee killed a cop and tried to kill Helen. Now you begin to see that Foley’s copycat killings were bred crumbs he sprinkled to set the stage for his grand finale. The moviemakers set up the viewers to see a mannequin dressed as a cop on the floor of the ladies room by showing Foley posing a mannequin for Helen to look at to heighten her terror while she’s hanging by her neck. The pursuing officer sees the body on the floor but ignores it thinking that it is only a prop. It’s Foley.
In the next chapter you will see a photo outside the Bundy killing cage reproduced from Fuhrman’s Murder in Brentwood. It features a Mexican worry doll, flowers, a poem and, of course, dried blood in and around the cracks in the pavement. The poem is on an unfolded sheet of paper with water stains on the edges and in the folds. A bouquet of wilted purple delphiniums stands behind the paper. A fresh larkspur rests on the ground in front of it creating the illusion that an ink drawing of the flower on the paper is the real thing falling to earth. Bloodstains appear to flow from the doll’s neck. The poem is called “Mothers”. It is signed with the names Adam and something beginning with Al, Ali or Ale.
A strategically curled-in corner obscures the last signature making it a puzzle with some of the letters missing. The blue jean-clad knee of an unidentified person appears on the edge of the photo giving the impression that it’s Fuhrman’s knee, that he wrote the poem, drew the larkspur and left the flowers. Fuhrman didn’t write the poem. One of Nicole’s neighbors did. When you examine the photo closely you can see that it is a mirror image of the killing cage with the doll representing Nicole’s body and the poem representing her tombstone. The word “heart” appears in the poem. A heart-shaped blood pool appears in the killing cage. The Mexican worry doll is called that for the same reason Catholic rosary beads are called “worry beads,” to take away worries.
Maria Baur, Nicole’s maid when she moved in with O.J. on Rockingham, was Mexican. Her German Catholic husband Rolf Baur was the Simpson’s groundskeeper. In the real Moxley case a German named Franz Wittine was the Skakel’s groundskeeper.
The legal precedent that Fuhrman used to search Rockingham was People vs. Cain. Belinda Bauer as Pat Lennon in The Rosary Murders is a Catholic reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Her boss is Nelson Kane. At the start of the Easter season a Catholic hospital patient named Father James Lord died under peculiar circumstances. The nurse who discovered his body suspected foul play when she found a rosary in his hand that wasn’t his. Pat goes to Father Koesler the Detroit Catholic News Editor to tell him what she suspects and why when the nude body of Sister Ann Vania is found partially submerged in her bloody bathtub water. She was not raped.
Father Koesler found the body in her dormitory across from the church where he hears confessions in a predominantly Mexican section of Detroit. To Koesler’s surprise he recognizes the rosary Pat lays on his table that she got from Father Lord’s nurse. To her surprise, he shows her an identical rosary that came from the dead hand of Sister Ann. Murder in Greenwich puts a rosary in the hand of Ann Skakel on her deathbed. The golf club that killed Martha Moxley had her name on it.
The Rosary Murders’ screenwriters might have gotten the rosary idea from Sergeant Rutledge. In that fact-based John Ford classic, black cavalry Sgt. Braxton Rutledge is on trial for rape and murder. The female victim is a 14 or 15-year-old white girl named Lucy. Rutledge taught her to ride horses. She wore a crucifix that ends up in the pocket of a hunting jacket taken by an Apache warrior from the charred body of a teenager named Chris. When the chief judge calls attention to initials in the jacket, Chris’ father – the killer, says he can distinguish Lucy’s cross from a pile of similar crosses with identical broken chains on the exhibit table.
The murder of nuns and priests in Detroit was a factual news story in the 1970s. It got little national attention because the killer, a junky whose motive was robbery, was quickly apprehended. Turning the killer into a Catholic man who was having incestuous relations with his daughter gave The Rosary Murders a more “newsworthy” spin.
The key to solving the movie murders is in the room of the 16-year-old incest victim Catherine Anne Javison, who hanged herself in that room. Like Fuhrman’s Martha, Cathy has blonde furniture and a Teddy bear. Her walls are papered in white delphiniums. A framed picture of the dead girl wearing a small crucifix sits on a table with burning candle and a rosary in front of it. The rosary beads attached to the cross distinguish it from other rosaries. The figurines of horses and photos of horses in her room give you the first hint that Sergeant Rutledge had something to do with the Rosary Murders screenplay.
The coral-colored flowers in the Javison’s kitchen could remind you of anther violent death scene with purple delphiniums and a Mexican worry doll. You might not think of Sergeant Rutledge until a black cop wounds the killer and an outraged father wounds Rutledge on his daughter’s murder scene.
Cathy Javison’s father is outraged because he blames the Church for allowing him to get away with raping his daughter, which led to her suicide – which means she will burn in hell. He chooses his victims from priests and nuns with names similar to keywords in the Ten Commandments. That pattern of the killings allows Father Koesler to identify his boss as the tenth victim. Charles Durning as Father Neighbors, a “fire and brimstone” pastor with a golf club in his hand, plugs you into the “Bundy” murders as well as Murder in Greenwich. Dorothy Moxley tells Fuhrman that she didn’t suspect any of the Skakel boys of killing her daughter with Ann Skakel’s golf club because they were her neighbors.
Twin Peaks moves the killings to Washington, changes the incest victim’s name to Laura and turns her blonde furniture into Laura’s blonde hair. Cathy’s crucifix becomes Laura’s broken heart necklace. Laura’s father has an evil sprit inside of him named Bob. Instead of a rosary, he leaves a tiny slip of paper under his victims’ fingernail spelling out the first name of Catherine Javison’s father – R-O-B-E-R-T.
Pat’s hopeless love interest is Donald Sutherland as Father Robert Koesler. Where you see Bauer you usually see
Sutherland. The “signature in red ink/Hildy Southerlyn/Lancaster
link” is in the name below Catherine’s obituary –
Lancaster. Catherine is buried in Dearborn, the home of
Ford World Headquarters and Greenfield Village. In Murder in Greenwich, Fuhrman signs
his name on his probation office request form to go to
Connecticut in red ink.
In Murder in Greenwich, Fuhrman signs his name on his probation office request form to go to Connecticut in red ink.
The Murder in Greenwich groundskeeper Alex Grafton looks like a composite of Rolf Baur and the real Skakel groundskeeper Franz Wittine. The name change links him to the incomplete signature on the “Mother’s” poem and to characters named Alice, a government agent, and Alec, a gene-splicing botanist, in Swamp Thing. The first time you see Grafton he is gathering and burning leaves on “Helloween.” The last time you see him he is in a greenhouse surrounded by flowers being questioned by Fuhrman who is wearing blue jeans. Wait till you see what happens with Holly, M.J. and Hudson from Copycat in Which Hunt….
Contact the author: Jasper Garrison
Copyright © 2004 Smartfellows Press