Maude Wendell is a murderess on James Mitchner fictional novel and the soap opera miniseries based on the novel


In the book and the series chapter "The Crime" Maude Wendell is a seducer of a foolish wealthy man who she kills when she and husband try to blackmail him. In the last episode of the series a visting professor {Played by Andy Griffith} accidently finds evidence of the old murder despite Maude grandson Morgan Wendell [played by Robert Vaughan] actions to cover it up.


  • In the miniseries, Morgan Wendell tries to cover up his family's shady history, but in the book he speaks openly about the murder and his father's admiration of the sheriff to the author- who in turn agrees to publish the facts of the killing after the aftermath of a important state election in which Wendell is a canidate. Likewise in the miniseries when the author takes with several townsfolk of Centinnial history and confirms the murder, the townsfolk already know of the unsavory legend of the Wendell's family as conmen;swindlers and murder suspects. In fact during a land boom during the 1920's the Wendall's sold cheap but waterless land to new immigrants driving one family to madness, murder and suicide during the great dust storm drought of the 1930's.
  • There is a Centinnial Colorado, but it was founded in 2001 and has no connection with either the fictional novel or minseries
  • The late actress Lois Nettleton played Maude Wendell; parts she would be remembered for is "The twilight Zone " episode "The Midnight Sun" playing a doomed young artist and "In the Heat of the Night Series" [1989] playing Joanne St John
  • James Mitchner was a great storyteller although for the sake of the story he had to compress Old American west history into one state [The Massacre of Indians happened in Kiowa County not Weld Colorado; the range war between cattlemen and sheep actually happed 1892 in Wyoming}; nonetheless the book and the minseries vesions of the Murder treat it differently; in the book the killing is mearly one chapter in Centeniels history; in the concluding episode of the minseries makes the discovery of the murder a focal point of drawing together many of the separate threads in the story. The only failure of the book is a concluding chapter of how the election turned out-who was going to be the conservation official in charge of Natural resources for Colorado- Garret or Wendell;-nor about how the naturl resurices were used or abused. Note even though Garret is a descendant of Native American Chief Lane beaver he is also a descendant of the religious fanatic and murderous Col Skimmerhorn; in fact is a logical thread of thought is that the descendants of Garret and Wendell end up marring one another...Lastly is a note that Mitchner would never stoop to writing stock caracthers or situations in his books; nevertheless the story of the missing victium found in a cave appears so offen as to be a stock situation: examples according to one legend at the Battle of Blue Licks Ky Daniel Boones son died of wounds and his father was forced to place the corpus in a cave during the retreat; James Harrod a pioneer founder of Harrodsberg Ky went missing on a hunting trip according to legend what may have been his remains were found years later in a cave...JAmes Harrod
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