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The American History of Small Town X

posted by Emerson on 9/04/01

From April of last year through April of this year, I was working at Blockbuster Video.  Doing the 5pm to midnight shift there meant I didn’t have any time to watch television.  I kept up with the first Survivor, but the rest of the spin-off reality shows I pretty much just ignored.  Since working days, I’ve found my nights free to watch TV, and I have become thoroughly engrossed with reality TV.  I’ve watched Real World and Road Rules since the beginning.  In the last month I’ve paid more and more attention to the second installment of Big Brother.  I still don’t give two shits about the next Survivor.  However, one reality TV show has hooked me, sucked me in, and left me wanting more.  Too bad there’s only one episode left, the two hour season(and probably series, as the ratings have been dropping) finale on Tuesday.

Murder in Small Town X.

I’ve always been a fan of murder mysteries, and interactive ones like this one really entertain me.  After watching the episodes, I anxiously await the episode summary at either Reality TV Fans or Reality News Online to see what clues or tiny pieces of evidence I may have missed.  Those sites also help me get my fix on the other reality shows I’m missing and want to know about, but don’t really want to watch anyway.  The Big Brother Live Feeds are a huge resource as well.  Anyways...

If you’ve never seen the show, read this article for the basics then check out the finale.  If you have seen the show, or you watch it regularly, use this as a catch-up or reference guide.

The premise of the show is mostly the same.  10 real people are chosen to undertake a specific task.  Every week, one of them gets eliminated (with a chance of more, I’ll get to that later), and the winner of the whole thing takes home an assload of cash.  The specific task for this show is as follows:

In the small ocean-side town of Sunrise, Maine, a family has been killed. In the wee hours of April 8th, 2001,  Nate Flint, his daughter Abby, and his wife(Abby’s stepmom) Carmen are the first three victims of the “Sunrise Killer”.  Carmen, before she is killed, is forced to read a manifesto of sorts into the killer’s video camera.  The manifesto-video gives us our first clues.  The team of 10 investigators will follow different “tracks” to find clues, interview suspects, etc.  Every three days, they’ll find two sealed envelopes, one red and one black.  Inside the red one is a question that, if answered correctly, will clear a suspect.  Inside the black envelope are two maps.  The group of investigators votes for who of them will follow the first one, and the lifeguard(their version of Survivor’s immunity, or Big Brother’s Head of Household) has to choose the other.  The two investigators take a cab to the location on their respective map, then check out the area until they find a large X made out of Lupine flowers.  One of them will  a “Killer Clue” with the flowers.  The other will stand there looking dumb while the killer(running up form behind them with his camera, with a green-tinted lens) strikes them down.

Also, whenever one of the team is investigating somewhere by themselves, they run the risk of becoming a victim.

The killer is one of fifteen members of the town community.  I’ll list them with small bios right now.  Also, if a suspect has been cleared, whether by the investigators or by other means, I’ll make a note of it in my comments after each suspect.

(All bios have been taken from the Official Site, which is really, really helpful.  FOX rules, be sure and watch Undeclared this fall.)

Deanna Harris
A beautiful and brilliant litigator, Deanna defeats her courtroom adversaries by using her brain and her physical charms. Inside and outside the court, she is linked to William Lambert, her client and lover.

I wonder if he gets his lawyering done for free, then?  This suspect has been cleared, and wasn’t on screen more than once while she was still a suspect.  Never a suspect to me.

Drew Chambers
Easy-going, whip-smart, totally hip with a flair for spotting musical talent, Drew has tagged Sunrise as the new getaway spot for wealthy New Yorkers. After transforming a defunct store into the eclectic Sunset Club, Drew started booking unique bands and performers.

This guy didn’t say much either.  The investigators did hang out at the club and drink a lot, and they all liked this guy.  Never a suspect in my book.

Dudley Duncan
Small-town cop, big-time FBI fan, Constable Duncan has perfected the technique of talking problems away. He has the unique ability to be somewhere other than where there is trouble, and is prone to mood swings.

This was the first suspect cleared, and also the most helpful, seeing as how he’s the town cop, the investigators would have to trust him during the case.  Dudley has led the team to multiple clues. 

Emerson Bowden
This hard-core Republican with the big, soft center is a former college football hero and presiding five-term Mayor of Sunrise. Bowden is also a passionate taxidermist, the owner of a local curio shop and an amateur clown known as "Sparky." He would do anything to see Sunrise prosper.

This guy is still a suspect, although he’s only really been in one episode.  His knowledge about one of the “Killer Clues” is all that could possibly link him to the murder.  Not a suspect, although still labeled as one.

Frank Kovich
Frank is an ambitious, intense reporter for the local newspaper. He's been in Sunrise for over three years after a stint at the New York Post—and hates being called an outsider. His obsessive professional drive is hammering a wedge between him and his wife.

He’s the killer (in my head anyway, so don‘t take that as a spoiler).  I’ll explain it all later in the column.

G.B. Thibodeaux
Tough, some might say belligerent, Thibodeaux operates the town ferryboat. This Marine Corps vet suffers from Gulf War syndrome and is somewhat of a loner—although he is utterly loyal to the few friends he does have.

This guy was a pretty strong suspect, and hadn’t yet been cleared.  Of course, the killer decided he knew too much and capped him.  So he’s dead now.  Yep.  Poor dude.

Hayden Debeck
This wealthy former businessman used to run the Kingfisher Canneries with C.R. Flint and Oscar Blodgett. In 1968, he cashed out his shares and founded the Mind/Science Philosophy that drives his secret society. A shadowy, menacing figure with a legion of followers, DeBeck is obsessed with the preservation of the town as it was.

One of the three original founders of the Kingfisher Cannery.  This guy has, sorry, *had* a huge cult of followers, called “Sweepers”  Dressed in suits, sunglasses and carrying a broom, his Sweepers would stand around town, just stand in one place, and sweep their broom.  Everyone tried to ignore them, so it looked to me like they were very good at listening to conversations and reporting to DeBeck.  In last week’s episode, DeBeck’s limo was run off the road and flipped.  DeBeck was apparently the latest victim of the killer, as the video showed him inside the overturned limo, looking out the open window, crying out to the person outside to forgive him.  Hasn‘t been officially “cleared“ by either the website or the show itself, but I‘m pretty much assuming he‘s dead.

Jimmy Tinker
Abby Flint's boyfriend Jimmy just turned 21, but has retained an immature streak. He dropped out of film school after two years to return home after his mother's drinking sent the family into bankruptcy.

Still a suspect, it’s just been revealed that Jimmy was part of a blackmail plot with Prudence Connor, in which the two got $250,000 of Nate Flint’s money.  While I am trying to find the connection between that $250K and the $250K that the winning investigator takes home, I still don’t think either Jimmy or Prudence had anything to do with the murders.  Why would you kill someone you were blackmailing?  You can’t milk them anymore if they’re dead.

Leita Rose-Blodgett
The town's leading gossip and postmistress, Leita runs the Mail Center (and is not above holding interesting envelopes up to the light to check them out). Both born and married to money, Leita's blueblood manner has recently given way to a more bohemian, salacious streak. She crafts a line of handmade dolls known as "Leita's Lil' 'Uns." Leita spreads scandal, but keeps a lid on her own past.

Leita was cleared as a suspect, then a victim of the Sunrise Killer at the beginning of the next episode.  Leita’s husband Oscar was one of the founders(along with Hayden DeBeck and C.R. Flint, Nate’s father) of the Kingfisher Cannery, a sardine factory that plays a huge part in the town’s past and current foundation.  Oscar was killed in what was believed a boating accident on April 8th, 1971, although Leita always thought DeBeck was involved somehow.

Mary Elizabeth Merchant
An emancipated minor, Mary Elizabeth fled her abusive family two years ago at the age of 16. Now she is an attorney's aid to Deanna Harris, but rarely shows up and can be quite manipulative and selfish. Mary Elizabeth harbors a desire to be just like her best friend—the town's golden girl, Abby Flint.

Still a suspect, this girl is just plain psycho.  I don’t think she had anything to do with any murders, but she’s been shown dressing in Abby’s clothes, screwing Jimmy Tinker, stripping at a club across the bay, romantically linked to the reverend, and as a high priestess in DeBeck’s cult.  Christ Almighty, is Vince Russo writing this shit?  She didn’t do it.

Prudence Connor
Prudence is a Gulf War veteran who owns and operates an auto repair shop. She is an avid hunter, beer drinker and undeniable head-turner, fully capable of playing the femme fatale when necessary. Her quick temper is fueled by a deep resentment of the town's power brokers.

Hates the entire Flint family.  Part of a blackmail plot with Tinker to get Flint money.  Has shown remarkable proficiency with a Bangstick (a tool used in fishing that has been revealed to be the murder weapon).  She didn’t do it either, but at least she makes a great suspect.

Rusty Crandall
Young and attractive, the nondenominational pastor of the First Church of Sunrise organizes yoga classes, herbal-healing workshops and a midnight basketball league. Rev. Crandall is trying to live up to the previous, beloved pastor—his father—but struggles with temptations of the flesh.

Imagine my surprise when the investigators were checking out the compound of DeBeck’s cult last episode, and this sumbitch right here is there, pumping up all of DeBeck’s followers with his speeches.  This guy is another great suspect, and although he does make my Top 3(with Lambert and Kovick), I still can’t place the blame on him.  Side note:  He was pretty much just banging the hell out of Abby Flint, and since Mary Elizabeth wants to be just like her, he‘s apparently banging her now, too.  Go Rusty.

Samantha Larabee
This diner owner and waitress is loved by all for her outgoing, nurturing nature. No one knows her daily struggle with a gambling addiction that ruined her first marriage, not even C.R. Flint whom she takes care of and to whom she is fiercely loyal.

Sam has been the caregiver for C.R. Flint, Nate’s father, for many years. She was cleared as a suspect last episode.  You know, since C.R. Flint’s entire family is dead, if he were to die oh, say, Tuesday night in the season finale, I bet in his will, you’d find that his fortune has been left to his good friend and caregiver, Sam.  Nothing out of the ordinary, I’m sure that happens in the real world.

William Lambert
Businessman, salesman, quick-witted and hardworking. Lambert is most comfortable in a power position and will do whatever it takes—whether it's wielding a rose or a dagger—to seal the deal. He harbors secret resentment over his poor upbringing by an unwed mother and is bent on being a force in Sunrise.

A strong, strong #2 suspect, right behind Frank Kovick.  He tries to buy land from Leita to build a hotel.  She declines, then is killed a few days later, and the property goes on the block, and is bought by Lambert.  His mother was also run out of town by Leita and her gossiping when he was very young.  At the crime scene of Leita’s house, a tiny scrap of leather and cloth was found, and turned out to be a piece missing from the logo on Lambert’s jacket.  I would believe it was him, except Frank Kovick is trying to point the finger at him too much, digging up too much dirt on him, etc. Last episode, he bought the paper and fired Frank.  Heh.

Owner of the only cab company in town, X-Ray was born in Africa but loves his adopted home of Sunrise. Despite night blindness, which creates after-dark adventures, X-Ray maintains a cheerful optimism about life. Over-educated, he is a trove of obscure knowledge.

Good thing he was cleared, as it was either him on one of his employees who drove the investigators out to their Black Envelope Tracks.  He helps the team out with info now and then, as a cabbie, he’s privy to all kinds of conversation.

Those are your suspects.  I’m not going into much detail about the team of investigators, especially since there are only four left.  The remaining four are Alan (my fave), a deli owner from Tennessee, he befriended G.B. Thibodeaux in the first episode, and all the suspects are usually very cooperative with him, a good sign; Katie, the only female still alive, and probably the smartest team member left, as she is digging under the surface of all the clues to find what is underneath.  She suspects something bigger. She’s smart; Angel, random big, tough, guy with heart of gold.  However, he’s also pretty f-ing smart, and it was him who dove into freezing water to recover the potential murder weapon; Jeff, the model.  I’m wanting him gone.   He’s made so many mistakes while interviewing suspects, it’s insane.

Now, the best part, the clues, and my comments on each.

From Episode 1

The Clock
While watching the Killer’s film of the attack on the Flint’s, Nate Flint was working on some antique clocks in his basement workshop. Hidden inside one of the recovered clocks was a set of black and white photographs.


Found inside the antique clock in Nate Flint’s workshop, these black and white photos are of an apparent affair between Nate Flint and Prudence Connor. The photos appeared to have been taken surveillance style through a window.

Photos were taken by Jimmy Tinker; part of a blackmail plot to get money form Flint.

Killer Clue
The Killer Clue, marked by a giant “X” made of white flowers covered in blood, was found by Kristen on Dog Island. It was the wreck of a boat, the “Bonnie Rose”.

The Bonnie Rose is the name of what was once Oscar Blodgett’s boat.  Largely believed to be a boating accident, but it was no accident.

From Episode 2

Oscar Blodgett's Empty Grave
While escorting Leita Rose Blodgett to visit the grave of her deceased husband, Oscar Blodgett, Andrew and Angel discover that the gravesite has been disturbed. Apparently, someone has dug it up, then filled the dirt back into the hole. Chief Duncan instructs Angel and Andrew to dig up the grave to see if the casket was disturbed. After several hours of digging the investigators discover that Oscar Blodgett's body has been removed from the casket.

Personally, I think the grave was dug up merely to show that it was empty.  I think the grave has been empty for quite some time, 30 years, in fact.

Brian, Stacey and Katie, with the help of Duncan and some bloodhounds, tracked down Thibodeaux, who was preparing to bury a cooler deep in the woods. Inside the cooler were a bunch of plastic medical blood storage bags, all of them filled with blood.

It turns out Thibodeaux has a medical condition resulting from his Gulf War Syndrome in which he needs, or at least believes he needs, constant blood transfusions.  All this blood is human blood, but it’s the kind you would find at a blood center.

Killer Clue
The Killer Clue, again marked by a giant "X" made of white Lupin flowers covered in blood, was found by Brian on the second floor in the house at 45 Kendall. This time the Killer left a sardine can with a label from the Kingfisher Cannery. Once back at HQ, Brian opened the can in front of his fellow investigators. Inside, covered in mustard were two severed fingers, a ring finger, still wearing a gold wedding band, and a pinky.

These are Nate Flint’s fingers, and could be symbolic of any number of things.  It could represent a parent and child, or perhaps “point the finger” at someone or something.  They were also well-preserved, and the only person in town who knows taxidermy is Mayor Bowden.  Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve seen of him the entire series.

From Episode 3

Abby's Dodge Spirit
Missing since the night of the murder, Abby Flint’s white Dodge Spirit finally appears. Barreling down the old fire road early in the morning, the car is launched off the pier into the bay. When the tide goes out later in the day, the car is discovered stuck in the mud flats.

Jimmy Tinker had swiped it the night of the murders for some reason.  He paid Mary Elizabeth $600 to dump it.

$2 Bill
Discovered in a purse in Abby’s car were fourteen $2 bills, each stamped in red ink with the name “Grady, Maine”.

“$2 Bills” is the name of a strip club across the bay in Grady, which is owned by Lambert.  Abby, it turns out, danced there, as does Mary Elizabeth.

Killer Clue
The Killer Clue, found beneath a giant “X” made of white Lupine flowers covered in blood, is brought back from the Sunrise Theater by Kristen. The clue is another 16mm film can, similar to the one that contained the original Killer film.

This film is from 1971, and it contains a bit of a monologue by a man, referred to as The Burnt Man from here on out.  The Burnt Man’s left side of his face is heavily scarred from fire, and his left eye is milk-white.  He is sitting inside a room at a lodge, and speaking into the camera.  He talks about his earliest memory, as a child, running through the hallways of a burning house.  A wall collapsed and he found himself outside.  He woke up later to find himself being dragged out of the water onto a fishing boat and taken to Grady, Maine.  He states he did not return to Sunrise until he became a man.

From Episode 4

The Burnt Man Film
A voice from the past, preserved on the film that Kristen found at the Sunrise Player's Theater while out playing the Killer's Game.

Hair Sample
A sample of blond hair, potentially Leita's, found on the floor in the room were Leita is believed to have been murdered.

Leita made dolls as a past-time, and would often use her own hair to make the dolls’ hair with.  Nothing spectacular here, unless maybe the killer shaved her head as a form of humiliation.

Killer Clue
The Killer Clue, found next to the white Lupine "X" is the "Lost At Sea Monument". This sculpture depicts a giant hand caught in fishing nets, reaching out from the water. On the base are numerous small plaques inscribed with the names of those locals who died at sea over the years. One of those plaques was circled in blood by the killer. The name on the plaque…"Duchamps".

The DuChamps were a family who, according to history, died in a boating accident.

From Episode 5

Kingfisher Cannery
The old sardine canning factory, owned by C.R. Flint (after the death of his son, Nate Flint) and William Lambert. It is on this piece of land that Lambert wants to build his development, The Inn at Phineas Point.

On April 8, 1941, the Kingfisher Cannery went up in flames.  The fire spread to the town, almost burning it to the ground.  It was named the “Miracle Fire” because no one was killed.  Of course, what if some *was* killed.  Say, an entire family’s house burned down.  What if it wasn’t an accident, because since the Cannery business was failing, the proprietors decided to torch it for insurance money.  What if, to cover their asses, they rigged a boating accident to explain the deaths of an entire family?  Save, perhaps, the youngest child in the family.

Bang Stick
The type of weapon allegedly used in the Sunrise murders. This tool of the fishing trade is used to kill large fish. This particular bang stick is the one recovered by Angel during his dive into the salmon pens.

The video of this thing is badass.  It’s a long, very skinny pole, about the same size and the thing that you twist to open window blinds.  It’s hollow, with one open end, and the other end has a hole to put in an empty shell casing.  Screw the firing pin down on it, and simply strike whatever it is you’re aiming at.  The concussion force produced is enough to make someone’s head explode.  This explains why the team would find lots of blood and brain matter at a crime scene, but only one .357 shell.

Killer Clue
Kristen's fourth successful journey to a Killer clue site provides the investigators with another can of 16mm film to ponder.

This is another video of The Burnt Man, this time telling the story of rigging the propane tanks in a boat, and watching it explode from 200 yards away, form the safety of shore.  Then he reveals that this is how he killed Oscar Blodgett.

From Episode 6

The Sweepers
Jeff and Alan finally get to the bottom of who the sweepers are, by enduring an eight hour initiation at the Mind/Science Organization compound.

What shit this was.  Jeff and Alan went through 8 hours of physical and mental tests just to meet with DeBeck, and ask him about the $250,000 of Nate’s money that was blackmailed from him.  He explains that he gave Nate the money for some land, and then Nate died the day he was to sign the land over.  Then DeBeck leaves.  So the guys went through eight hours of hell just so the General could talk for four minutes and take off.

Killer Clue
The OSL Logo discovered by Jeff at the Mind/Science Organization compound while playing the Killer's game. This is a printed version of the flaming logo found in the Logic Tower.

Mind/Science Organization is the name of Debeck’s cult, if I hadn’t mentioned that yet.

Other Clues/Evidence:

*The group found some shredded paper which, when pieced together, were documents showing Nate Flint’s offshore bank account where he held the $250,000, given to him by “Enhanced Power”, a subdivision of DeBeck’s Mind/Science Cult.

*At Leita Rose’s house after the murder, in a pool of blood, the group found a small sliding puzzle with the initials “F.K.”

*Frank Kovick has no alibi for both the night of the Flint’s murders, and the night of Leita’s.

*The Burnt Man’s body was found, hung, in the room of the lodge where the videos were filmed, by the manager of the place.  When he calls the Burnt Man a ”freak”, Frank flips out.  Frank explains to the team that the guy still had a family.  He is adopted, so he doesn’t know what family is.

*Quite a few bodies are missing.  Carmen’s body was returned.  Nate, Abby, Leita, Thibodeaux, DeBeck, and possibly Oscar’s bodies have never been recovered.  While it’s true that Oscar’s grave was dug up, I still believe that it has been empty for quite some time.  Oscar was probably very burned in the boat explosion, so if he was dug up shortly thereafter, and hung in the bathroom of the lodge, he could probably pass for the Burnt Man.  Still, there are 5 bodies gone, they have to be somewhere.

*Frank has a very large boathouse, when the team comes out there to see him he always sits on the steps leading to the entrance; never invites them in.

*The team set up video surveillance in Prudence Connor’s house, which lead them to see Connor and Jimmy Tinker there celebrating their blackmail netting them $250,000.  However, DeBeck knows all about Connor having his money, and didn’t like it at all.

*When raiding the Flint house for clues, the team took Abby’s computer, which had a webcam convo between her and Mary Elizabeth, in which she told Mary that she thought Jimmy was using her for something.

Now, for my theory.

I believe 100% that the killer is Frank Kovick.  I believe he is the son of The Burnt Man.  His mother could be a name player in the town, but that’s not important.  I had thought the Burnt Man to be dead, as it was stated that he hung himself, however the preview for the season finale shows an old(near 70) man sweeping in front of DeBeck’s compound, it zooms in to his face, and the left side of it is burned, including a milk-white eye.

Also, the killer clues all fit together with Frank.  The clues all point to either DeBeck, a Flint, or Blodgett.  Those are the three men that set fire to their own cannery, and killed The Burnt Man’s family.  Blodgett died at the Burnt Man’s hands.  DeBeck, just last episode.  But why hasn’t C.R Flint died yet?  Simple.  Were he to have been killed first, his money would have gone to Nate, Abby, etc.  Since his family is dead, they aren’t the automatic beneficiaries.  Who is?  Remember how wayyyyyyy up there in the suspect section, I noted that his will probably leaves all his money to Sam Larabee, his caregiver?

Yeah, she’s pregnant with Frank’s kid.

AIM: DEmersonWD

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