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Laura Manning

Scorned conspirator/murderer Laura Manning

Laura Manning (Jaime Dudney) is the main villainess of "Murder, Country Style," episode 4.18 of Diagnosis Murder (airdate February 20, 1997). She was a country music songwriter, along with being the daughter of record producer Beatrice Barton Manning, who is simply known to many as Betty Manning.

Laura wrote songs for famous country singer Mickey McShane, who was her fiancé. However, he was later revealed to have a wandering eye, and among Mickey's illicit sexual partners was an unnamed female groupie who was interviewed by Steve Sloan and Jesse Travis. After learning about their affair, Laura angrily confronted Mickey (who was drunk at the time), with their argument being taken to Betty's dressing room, where the latter followed the former to. Her anger at his adultery quickly transformed into intense rage, leading to Laura declaring that their engagement was over before striking her ex-fiancé on the side of his head with a lamp, killing him instantly.

She ran to her mother and tearfully told her about what had happened, prompting the latter (who was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer that her physician said would kill her in less than six months) to head to her dressing room and begin covering her daughter's tracks by wiping her fingerprints off the lamp, switching her and the murder victim's luggage around, and also swapping their name tags on the trailer's doors. Betty's villainous actions led to a strand of her hair being found at the scene of the crime, with the discovery causing her to become a suspect. After Steve learned about Laura and Mickey's relationship from the aforementioned groupie, he and Mark Sloan confronted her, after which her mother falsely confessed to the murder.

Betty stated that her "motive" was that she had been one of his lovers for a few months. Upon "finding out" about Mickey's other relationships, she deceptively claimed that he kissed and touched her while they were in her trailer, with her "rage" against him driving her to "kill" the famous country singer with the lamp. Even so, Laura was exposed as the true killer when Mark saw that Betty didn't have the strength to lift the murder weapon, and a video of mother and daughter talking to each other onstage prior to the All-Star Country Music Awards completed her reveal.

During Mark's final talk with the villainous duo, he had Jan Curran—an instructor at the California School for the Hearing Impaired and a lip reader—uncover what Laura and Betty said to one another during the discussion, with the former responding by stating that she didn't know that Mickey was dead before apologizing to her mother for what she had done. The latter then broke down in tears when he refused to let her take the blame for the murder, with her daughter comforting her by giving her a hug before both villainesses were presumably arrested offscreen.

Quotes Edit

  • "I had a fight with Mickey! He was sleeping with some slut! I told him it was over. I wouldn't let him use me anymore. He was drunk. (Betty: "Oh, my God! What happened? Did he hit you?") No. He followed me into your dressing room. There was a lamp. I hit him. I think he's really hurt... (Betty: "I'll take care of this. Don't say anything to anyone.")" (Laura and Betty's words to each other on the stage of the All-Star Country Music Awards)
  • "I didn't know he was dead! I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..." (Laura's confession to Mark and apology to Betty)

Trivia Edit

  • Jaime Dudney is the real-life daughter of country singer Barbara Mandrell, who portrayed Betty Manning.
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