Old Time Radio Drama – Dragnet – The Big Crazy

You’re a detective sergeant. You’re assigned to homicide detail. A thirty-year old woman is missing. Three months passed before her disappearance is reported. There’s not a trace of the woman. No lead to her whereabouts. Your job: find her.

“It was Monday, June 9. It was warm in Los Angeles. We were working the day watch out of homicide detail. My partner’s Ben Romero. The boss is Thad Brown, chief of detectives. My name’s Friday. I was on the way back from the stats office and it was 10:18AM when I got to room 42:  Homicide.”

No one has heard from Ruth Daley’s twin sister Bernice for three months. Ruth wasn’t initially concerned because Bernice has a history of leaving without telling anyone, even traveling to Arizona for a month the previous year. But the behavior of Bernice’s husband, James Butler (Harry Bartell), concerns her. When Ruth last spoke to him, he refused to speak about Bernice. His only comment was: “You’d be surprised if I killed her, wouldn’t you? You’d be surprised.”

Ruth describes Butler as a “milquetoast character, timid, skinny, most of the time afraid to say boo”. But when Friday and Romero question Butler, his behavior is anything but timid. He claims to be a gangster, brags about previous problems with the law, and mentions that he beat his wife and threatened to kill her several times. He also states that he is clever enough to dispose of a body without getting caught.

Friday and Romero can find no confirmation for Butler’s wild claims, and are inclined to dismiss his statements as insane boasting. Even the discovery of a blood-stained hammer in his attic leads nowhere. When Friday and Romero help Ruth in an attempt to trap Butler into a confession, things goes badly wrong. The truth is finally revealed, but it is stranger than anyone could have expected.

This episode was first broadcast on NBC radio on August 30, 1951 and was sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes. It was reworked for television in 1958 as The Big Irony. You can download it from the Internet Archive here:

Download Dragnet – The Big Crazy – August 30, 1951

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