Mar. 06, 1988
60 min.
CBS TV Network

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In the Heat of the Night » Season 3
In the Heat of the Night - 03x04 First Girl

3x04 First Girl

First Aired: Nov. 14, 1989 on CBS
Summary: The first woman police officer in Sparta's force is killed during a case in which Gillespie apprehends a murderous drug dealer.

Main Characters in this Episode

Guest Stars

Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie played by Carroll O'Connor
Lt. V.L. 'Bubba' Skinner played by Alan Autry
Cpl. Wilson Sweet played by Geoffrey Thorne
Sgt. Lonnie Jamison played by Hugh O'Connor
Officer Christine Rankin played by Sheryl Lynn Piland
Melva played by Patty Mack
Officer Luann Corbin played by Crystal R. Fox
John Reeve played by Lou Walker

Episode Quotes

Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie: [Praying at Officer Rankin's graveside] Lord, I didn't know this child, and she didn't know me. But in her mind, I belonged to her, so I'm thinking it was your will. If only for one day. [pause] Serene in your presence, Lord, I do believe. And I'm here grieving , grieving for this child of mine. Help me with my sorrow.
Harriet DeLong: Another murder? Why, we seem to be averaging over one of those a week.
Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie: Well, Miss DeLong, that figure is countywide, isn't it?
Harriet DeLong: What's the answer, chief? What do we do about murder?
Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie: It's awful hard to stop it. You know, the man contemplating murder hardly ever advises us of his intentions.
Officer Christine Rankin: It was always my Aunt Edie in Kenard. She's all I have, outside of all of you.
Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie: All of us?
Officer Christine Rankin: Yea, I always make a family wherever I go. Like the in school, in the academy, now here on the job - y'all.
Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie: Well, I'd say you could do a whole lot worse than us. I think, as a family, we're decent enough. Sober without being stuffy and willing to stand by you.


  • Goof (continuity error): Although Officer Luann Corbin, played by actress Crystal R. Fox, is introduced at the end of this episode as having just been brought that day from Jackson, Mississippi, to become the newest member of the Sparta Police Department, Fox is listed in the closing credits of the previous episode, "Murder Most Ancient", and was shown sitting in character at her desk in the office of the Sparta PD.
  • Goof (errors made by characters, possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): Though this is Thom Gossum, Jr's series debut as the character Councilman "Melvin Lemmon" (as Thom Gossum); at the end of the episode before the introduction of "Officer Luann Corbin", both Councilwoman Harriet DeLong, and Chief Bill Gillespie refer to him as "Ted" (as in "Ted Marcus)


  • This marked the debuts of Denise Nicholas and Crystal R. Fox in the roles of Councilwoman Harriet DeLong and policewoman Luann Corbin respectively.
  • It is mentioned for the first time that Virgil's official rank with the Sparta police is captain.
  • Bubba, Lonnie and Sweet all get promoted in this episode. Bubba is promoted to lieutenant, Lonnie to sergeant and Sweet to corporal.
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