Who Killed Laura? The Suspense Is Murder


The investigation continues. . . .

A man in San Bernardino is now selling T-shirts bearing this message: “I Killed Laura Palmer.”

He calls the T-shirts his personal homage to “Twin Peaks” and the compelling murder mystery driving its story about weirdness in a Northwest lumber town.

“Twin Peaks” inspires such loyalty. More than merely ingenious goofiness, ABC’s Thursday night series does what television rarely does by continually occupying the minds of its most avid viewers. We think about “Twin Peaks”--and Laura Palmer--a lot.


This whole baffling business about the murder of Laura is such an extended cliffhanger that you have time to sift through infinite possibilities about the identity of the murderer. Some of them relate to the arrival in Twin Peaks of the blonde Laura’s lookalike cousin, Madeleine Ferguson, a brunette. Remember the hair color. It could be crucial.

Who is Madeleine?

My own theory--that Madeleine is really Laura, who switched identities with Madeleine after murdering her--is gaining at least partial support even as I begin to have doubts myself. No less a “Twin Peaks” scholar than Orange County Register movie critic Jim Emerson notes the plot similarities between the ABC series and the 1944 movie “Laura” starring Gene Tierney as an apparent murder victim who turns up alive.

Emerson points out that the name of the man stalking Laura in the movie was named Waldo Lydecker (played by Clifton Webb). Now pay attention: In “Twin Peaks,” Veterinarian Bob’s last name is also Lydecker, and a bird featured on the show is named-- yesssssss --Waldo.

Brilliant sleuthing, Emerson.

But now really pay attention, for still more clues to “Twin Peaks’ ” murder lie buried in the plot of the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Vertigo.” At least that’s the theory of a caller who wishes his own name to remain a mystery in order to protect his reputation as a sterling character who watches only public television.

“Vertigo,” he said, proves beyond any doubt that Madeleine Ferguson is really Laura. How?

In “Vertigo,” a police detective who suffers from vertigo (played by Jimmy Stewart) falls in love with a blonde (played by Kim Novak) whom he’s shadowing for a friend. The detective’s name is Ferguson. The blonde’s name is Madeleine. She appears to commit suicide. Then the detective comes across a brunette named Judy who looks just like the blonde. It turns out that the brunette Judy and the blonde he knew as Madeleine are the same woman.

Just as the brunette Madeleine is surely the blonde Laura in “Twin Peaks.”

All of which means that Laura was murdered by Waldo the bird, whose real name is Judy, and that Waldo, despite being a bird, is terrified of heights?

Exactly. It flies.

But there’s more. The Waldo-killed-Laura theory (maybe those are multiple peck wounds instead of stab wounds) gains even more credence upon examination of the movie “Birds of Prey.” One of the stars of that movie was David Janssen, whose famous TV series “The Fugitive” featured a villainous one-armed man.


Veterinarian Bob’s friend on “Twin Peaks” is a one-armed man.

Is that it? Of course not. For more theories, call my hot line. Meanwhile, here are a couple of extra freebies.

The actress Madlyn Rhue played a recurring character on an old ABC series named “Bracken’s World” that was about a movie studio whose talent school was headed by a character named-- yesssssss --Laura.

And get this: The British movie “Madeleine” was directed by David Lean. The theme for “Laura” was composed by David Raksin. The co-creator of “Twin Peaks” is David Lynch. This trio of Davids is a coincidence? I doubt it very much.

Raksin lives in town, so I called him to see what he had to say. He had the identity of Laura’s killer on the tip of his tongue: “I think it’s the guy with the long hair.”

What does Raksin know? He writes music.

The killer is Waldo.

Do Lynch and his partner, Mark Frost, think we’re naive? Do they think they’re dealing with children here? It’s not nice for a critic to reveal infinite possible endings to a mystery. But Lynch and Frost deserve this for making everything so obvious.

On the other hand, there is something strange about the T-shirt man in San Bernardino.