The third season saw a number of changes to the show. The character of Joanne St. John was eliminated to make room for councilwoman Harriet Delong. Althea grappled with the effects and aftermath of rape. We learn that Parker was a Vietnam veteran, and someone abandons a baby on Bubba’s doorstep. Dee Shaw also joined the cast as officer Dee Sheppard.

In “First Girl,” Gillespie hires Christine Rankin, the Sparta PD’s first female black officer. Her life is tragically cut short, making room for her replacement, Luanne Corbin, played by Crystal Fox. Luanne would remain a prominent character throughout the rest of the series, although Crystal Fox was listed in the ending credits as a guest star until season seven where she finally appeared in the opening credits.

In the two-part episode, “Citizen Trundle,” written by O’Connor, Cynthia Deming & William J Royce, Harriet DeLong’s sister, Natalie, is murdered.

# Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate Production Code
31 “Rape” Paul Lynch Nancy Bond October 24, 1989 9803
Virgil struggles to help Althea after she is raped by a fellow teacher. Darnell does not think they can get a conviction because the man’s wife has given him an alibi. Virgil tries to control his anger – until the man returns to intimidate Althea. And Gillespie tries to convince the wife to tell the truth.
32 “Fairest of Them All” Mario Azzopardi Edward DeBlasio October 31, 1989 9801
A beauty contest is marred by blackmail and the ambitious mother of a contestant.
33 “Murder Most Ancient” Winrich Kolbe Adrian Spies November 7, 1989 9807
An unhappy wife asks her lover to place a bomb in her abusive husband’s truck.
34 “First Girl” Gene Reynolds Carroll O’Connor November 14, 1989 9802
Sparta P.D. gets its first black policewoman.
35 “Crackdown” E.W. Swackhamer Nancy Bond November 21, 1989 9810
Someone is selling crack to teenagers and Sweet tries desperately to save a young addict.
36 “Anniversary” Harry Harris Mark Rodgers November 28, 1989 9812
Follow up to “Missing”. After being released by his captors, the chief discovers that his abduction is part of a plot to assassinate a visiting civil rights leader.
37 “Time of the Stranger” Ivan Dixon Mark Rodgers December 5, 1989 9804
After a private investigator searching for a missing child is found dead, the evidence points to a local dance teacher – a neighbor that Parker has become very fond of.
38 “Vengeance” E.W. Swackhamer Mark Rodgers December 12, 1989 9817
An outlaw family seeks revenge against Bubba after he is forced to shoot one of them during a holdup. The chief wants him to stay out of sight until they are arrested – a suggestion that does not set well with Bubba.
39 “My Name is Hank” Harry Harris Edward DeBlasio December 19, 1989 9815
A young refugee claims to be the son of a Sparta cop who died in the Vietnam War. But he quickly becomes a suspect in a murder/robbery after he accepts a ride with the criminals who actually committed the crime. Gillespie looks into his story, while Virgil and the boys track down the shooter. Meanwhile, the young mans presence triggers a surprisingly bitter reaction from Parker, who views him as a painful reminder of the war.
40 “King’s Ransom” Jeffrey Hayden Kim Friese, Carroll O’Connor January 2, 1990 9814
The F.B.I. tries to talk an ex-boxer into testifying against a mobster he once worked for, but the fighter sees the situation as an opportunity for blackmail.
41 “Epitaph for a Lady” Vincent McEveety Steven Baum January 16, 1990 9805
A long time friend of the Chief makes threats against a doctor he believes is responsible for his wife’s death. When the doctor is killed he becomes the prime suspect. But Gillespie doubts his guilt – even after he confesses.
42 “Triangle” Chuck Bowman Rick Kelbaugh January 23, 1990 9818
A man murders his wife and her lover after he catches them together, then flees to a remote cabin with his daughter who does not know what he has done. The chief and the boys hope to talk him into surrendering without resorting to violence.
43 “Hello in There” Vincent McEveety Cynthia Deming, William Royce January 30, 1990 9821
Bubba refuses to believe that a former teammate embezzled funds from the bank where he worked. And sets out to prove that his friend was framed and murdered. Harriet hopes that art therapy can help the man’s traumatized son, who becomes a target himself when the killer realizes he witnessed the crime.
44 “December Days” Vincent McEveety Kim Friese February 13, 1990 9816
The Sparta police investigate a suspicious death in a nursing home.
45 “A Loss of Innocence” Paul Lynch Cynthia Deming, William Royce, Stephen Schneck February 20, 1990 9823
Darnell plans on indicting a teenager for murder after her father is found in the basement and her mother turns up missing. But Gillespie and his men don’t believe she is guilty.
46 “Bubba’s Baby” Jeffrey Hayden Edward DeBlasio February 27, 1990 9820
Someone abandons a baby at Bubba’s door.
47 “Home is Where The Heart Is” Leo Penn Carroll O’Connor March 6, 1990 9822
Maybelle the madam returns to Sparta with her “nieces”. And sets up shop just out of Gillespie’s jurisdiction. Her return is not without controversy and soon one of her most vocal critics is found murdered.
48 “An Angry Woman” Winrich Kolbe Carroll O’Connor March 13, 1990 9809
First the mother, then the father of two young children are murdered. Althea takes responsibility for the children. The killings appear to be related to a shady trucking firm.
49 “Indiscretions” Vince Edwards Nancy Bond March 20, 1990 9811
Althea does not realize that an old friend from Philly is hiding a dark secret, nor does Sweet who has fallen in love with the woman.
50 “Night of the Killing” Chuck Bowman Mark Rodgers March 27, 1990 9819
Racial tensions run high when a white cabbie is murdered in the bottoms.
51 “Citizen Trundel: Part 1” Leo Penn Carroll O’Connor May 1, 1990 9813
Harriet’s sister is murdered on the orders of the wealthy white man who fathered her child.
52 “Citizen Trundel: Part 2” Harry Harris Cynthia Deming, William Royce May 8, 1990 9824
Harriet’s efforts to bring V.J. Trundel to trial are fruitless. The Chief does not believe they will ever get enough evidence to get an indictment, so he tries another method to bring Trundel to justice.

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