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Murder Ordained is a television miniseries that originally aired for CBS in 1987, starring Keith Carradine, JoBeth Williams, and Kathy Bates. It was co-written and directed by Mike Robe. Based on actual events that occurred in Emporia, Kansas, in 1983, the film tells the story of State Trooper John Rule (Carradine), who investigates what appears to be a traffic accident resulting in the death of a local minister's wife. His investigation leads him to believe foul play was involved. Much of the principal photography and filming occurred on location in Kansas, and some of the dialogue comes directly from court transcripts.[1]

Murder Ordained
Written byMike Robe
James Sadwith
Directed byMike Robe
StarringKeith Carradine
JoBeth Williams
Kathy Bates
John Goodman
Terry Kinney
Music byMark Snow
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Zev Braun
Ted Field
Producer(s)Philip L. Parslow
Patricia Clifford (co-producer)
Kathleen Cromley (associate producer)
Production location(s)Emporia, Kansas
CinematographyTerry K. Meade
Editor(s)Michael Eliot
Benjamin A. Weissman
Running time185 minutes
Production company(s)Braun Entertainment Group
CBS Entertainment Production
Radar Pictures
Original networkCBS
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original release
  • May 3, 1987 (1987-05-03)

The film was subsequently released on VHS and DVD. The cast also includes Terry Kinney, M. Emmet Walsh, John Goodman and Johnny Galecki.[2] The series received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special (Single Camera Production).


The Rev. Tom Bird (Terry Kinney), seemingly the perfect family man and Lutheran minister, becomes romantically involved with Lorna Anderson (JoBeth Williams), a new woman in town, openly unhappy with her hard-drinking husband, Marty (Terence Knox). Before long, the two are talking about fleeing Emporia together to establish his dream of a family counseling center in New Mexico. He even talks about the possibility of a lucrative television ministry. But there are two nagging problems: their respective spouses. In July 1983, the body of Sandra Bird (Annabella Price) is discovered floating beneath a bridge in what looks like a car accident. But state trooper John Rule (Keith Carradine) becomes suspicious about the lack of skid marks and blood stains on the bridge. Unfortunately, an official investigation stalls until Lorna's husband is also murdered.[3]


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