Frances Littleton (Shirley Knight) is the villainess of "Most Likely", episode 3.08 of Crossing Jordan (airdate April 18, 2004). She was a landlord who rented out a bedroom in her home to boarders. Frances was first questioned by detective Woody Hoyt (who was accompanied by M.E. Bug and grief counselor Lily Lebowski) in regards to her latest tenant Victor Carlson, who was suspected of killing IRS auditor Donald Foster. While she was questioned, Frances offered the three muffins she had baked and claimed that Victor had left that morning in a hurry.
But as revealed over the course of the episode, Frances was a greedy woman who had a history of renting her home out to elderly men living off government pension. Her previous three tenants (according to Frances) died while living with her, and Frances didn't report their deaths so she could keep receiving their pension checks, keeping their bodies stored in a freezer in her basement. It was revealed that Victor had really died about a year and a half prior to the episode, and when Donald Foster came to Frances' house looking for him, the evil Frances killed him to stop him from exposing her self-serving scheme, striking him in the head with a burner from her stove. She then placed Donald's body in the road, making it initially appear he had been fatally struck by a bus. To cover her secret, Frances lied to the police and moved Victor's body to make it appear that he had been alive and had killed Victor before dying himself.
Bug and Lily learned the truth about Frances when, after thawing out Victor's body, they found that his corpse was greatly decomposed, leading Bug to realize his true time of death. Lily also found that all of the pension checks Victor received were sent to Frances' residence, with the same applying to her past tenants. At that moment, Woody was at Frances' house having tea, and began to realize her guilt as well when he saw that her oven burner matched the wound on Victor's head. But as he did, Woody became groggy and fainted, Frances having spiked his tea with sleeping pills.
Frances then tied Woody up and put him in her basement, holding him at gunpoint while revealing her greedy history and contesting that she hadn't killed any of her boarders. At that moment, Bug and Lily arrived at the house, leading Frances to kick Woody before hurrying to the door. While Frances tried to claim that she hadn't seen Woody, Bug and Lily knew she was lying, as Woody's car was parked out front. The two then forced their way inside, with Woody managing to escape the basement and expose Frances as Donald's killer. Exposed, Frances went into a rant about how much money she had to give to the government and claiming she was just trying to make a living. Frances was soon after arrested (offscreen).
- "I didn't kill any of those people, you know. They all just died. I didn't report their deaths. Why should I? What was the government going to do with all that extra money anyway?" (Frances revealing herself as a greedy villainess)
- "It's not enough that I have to take it up the wazoo from the HMO and the Social Security, and now the cops too! Where's the justice? I was only trying to make a living! I mean, come on, they were dead, for God's sake!" (Frances' selfish justification for her scam)
- Shirley Knight also made two villainous appearances on Law & Order: SVU as villainous therapist Dr. Wharton and the evil Rose Granville.
- Shirley Knight also played vengeful villainess Jane Redding in the 2011 film, Elevator.