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Tattooed for Murder


In order to escape their father's tyrannical ways, a pair of sisters join a circus as tattooed girls. On the surface, their actions are meant to insult and humiliate their father, but one sibling has grander scheme in mind.



Air Dates

  • First Run - November 20, 1974
  • Repeat - January 15, 1975





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27 Responses to Episode 0176

I'm not sure if the father was incesterous. He was abusive and controlling. A tyrant used to getting his own way and saw his daughters as his property. Great ending. Can't say I didn't see it coming, though.


Anyone else feel that this episode was kind of sick? There is even a kind of subtle sexual overtone to the whole thing between the father and the daughters. Anyone else pick up on that? I think this episode was written by Elspeth Eric. She did write some weird ones, but some of her scripts were actually very good. I think she wrote "Ghost At the Gate" too, which is one of my very favorite episodes, so not all her episodes are weird at all. But when they are weird, they are VERY weird, lol.


Nancy Moore is the credited writer. This is the first of her 13 writing credits on this show. It was very clear that he beat the daughters, but, yes, I agree that sexual molestation was hinted in the undertones. I don't think this sounds remotely like an Elspeth Eric script. I almost never like her work, but found this gripping and tense and really well written. Eric's almost always feature very daffy supernatural stuff. I loved the realism here.


Yep, I think it has sort of incestuous implications too. Like that "Deadly Hour" that we were discussing a while back, there's weirdness in that one too. Two of the others that are really strange are 'The Resident" and another one in the last year where a woman is giving advice to this couple who each think the other is trying to kill them. She hires some guy to follow them around and says he will kill both if one does something threatening to the other. He ends up killing them, and then she kind of propositions the guy, and he ends up killing her too. It's way out there strange. Oh, and of course "The Stuff of Dreams" is really perverted, where the older overweight woman wants to hear about sick sexual stories and rape, and then plans to bed down with the guy who turns out to be the devil. It would be interesting to have a look at her book collection at (Elspeth Eric's, I mean).


I found that one pretty brutal at times, violent. And there was a subtle incestuous tone to it. Definitely an episode that sticks out to me as a weird one.


The author of this episode is not Elspeth Eric but Nancy Moore,pictured and listed above. Totally agree about this being a warped show,though,as were some of Eric's. But damned interesting.

Dale haskell

I found this episode very realistic, more than any other that I heard. This is how abusive relationships and their dynamics are. The revenge, fear, anger and manipulations. Not weird at all if you lived it.


Black's comments are well taken-I did not mean to suggest the episode lacked credibility. Anyone who knows someone that has such a family situation (and many of us have)could relate. Much appreciation to Black.

Dale haskell

Creepy. Creepy. Creepy times ten. \"Tattooed for Murder\" was a fantastic listen that deserves 5 stars. Again, I am shocked at the material Mystery Theater used in 1974. Fantastic!

Davy Joe

This is a disturbing episode that makes you really uncomfortable listening to it. The father is just an absolutely horrible, viscous brute. I don't know if there was an incestous relationship or not;but, there is a feeling you get that makes does you wonder. I was surprised that the sister that ran off didn't take her youger sister with her when she first ran away. She knew she would be leaving her with their father and he would probably subject the younger sister to even more abuse that the older sister couldn't protect her from. It brought back to me what my mother and I witnessed years ago at a Dept. store-we were looking over some clothes and a mother with a young daughter just absolutely went berserk and starting yelling abuse at the girl for no reason. The little girl wasn't running around or screaming or knocking things over like you see alot nowadays The store went silent and everybody froze. The woman keep berating the poor girl and dragged her by the arm out of the store. I dread to think what happened to that little girl that day and at home with a mother like that.


Great episode, including the commercials.


A domineering man holds his daughters virtual prisoners in their estate and wields supreme power over them until the oldest disappears. Despite all his wealth and influence he cannot uncover a single shred of evidence about her whereabouts. Years later, she turns up after the father has gone to his job to help her younger, now 16 year old sister escape. The sister is too brainwashed to make any decisive moves and the father learns of the eldest daughter’s return after he beats it out of the youngest one. For the last 6 years the older daughter has been traveling with the carnival, and she intends on bringing her sister along, but must first deal with her evil father.


I actually liked this episode very much, not necessarily for the subject matter but for the writing and acting. It kept me "riveted" as very few episodes do. I did not get any vibes that the father was anything more than just physically abusive toward his daughters. Another favorite is "The Black Room" which kept me wondering the whole time what was going on and a difficult episode for the actor since it was basically a monologue. It's these occasional gems that keep me listening.

Dave H.

Hear, hear, Black. Quite realistic, indeed. On the performance side, the acting was top notch. So was the pacing. It truly is a memorable episode. However, this episode, like quite a few CBSRMT's episodes, has older, rougher sounding voices for characters that are clearly in their late teens or in their twenties. As has happened with some of the roles Mercedes McCambridge has played. Perhaps if the actors spoke a tad higher it would've helped. Regardless, 5 stars for this one.


A carny plot against one of the worst fathers in the world.


From the preceding comments, one thing is clear: this is an unusually tense and provocative script. It's also the best aspect of the episode, which features uneven performances (the father and younger sister are excellent, the older sister and her husband rather underplayed) and a fairly unsurprising twist. The sinister and eerily plausible presentation of an abusive, authoritarian father and the emotionally damaged daughters attempting to escape his control, however, make this a very strong entry in the series, packing more of an emotional wallop than most. Tattooed for Murder can definitely inspire a case of the creeps, in spite of the absence of supernatural elements.

Matt Sandwich

This episode was perfect in its execution and ability to go where other Mystery Theater episodes dared not go. It is my second time listening to it and I still marvel at its power.


Agreed, I did not find the father incestuous. He was, instead, an abusive and controlling, evil man. He owned his daughters and treated them as his own property. He beat them in order to make them submissive. The ending was intense but appropriate. I know this episode seemed "weird" but this is episode represented a taste of what it is like to live in an abusive environment. It is that harsh or harsher.


A riveting episode I thought. As it was written we felt no sympathy for the father, only for the daughters. The end was interesting in that the eldest showed that she learned a different way from her father - how to hurt people without touching them. Her father sure sounded like a sociopath and his eldest was a bit of one as well. It does make you wonder what happened to their mother and how he may have treated her.


I always wanted someone to make a film of this story, I think it would have been a great movie.

scott bingle

This is what I just heard recently and the whole time I was listening to it I got a strong deja vu feeling like I heard this story before. I know that I’ve never listened to The Clock before, but I have listened to all the CBSRMT shows so I’m certain that there’s a Mystery Theater show that borrowed from this older radio program.


Otto Kramer has tried, since the death of his wife, to keep his two daughters locked up in the family mansion, virtually as servants catering to his every demand. But Erika, the elder, has escaped, joined a carnival and become a “Tatooed Princess,” the tattoos covering the scars inflicted by her father’s cane. Now Erika has come to take the younger Katrin away—but their father has no intention of allowing this to happen.


I already commented, but I wanted to respond to some of the comments here just to clarify. I didn't say the episode was actually depicting an overtly incestuous relationship between the father and his daughters. I said that the episode had an incestuous "tone" to it. What I meant was that the dialogue and some of the things they said to each other gave one the feeling that there was a subtle, sick sexual attraction on the part of the abusive father, which made him very possessive of his daughters, especially the youngest one. You get the feeling he never would have let her get married because he wanted her for himself, even if he might not have acted on it openly. I say "might" because you never know what a crazy creep like him might have done eventually. Of course in 1974, any kind of show about incest would be more subtle, so we don't really know if the father ever abused his daughters in *that* way or not. Still, you get the feeling that even if he didn't, part of him wanted to. Judging by some of the dialogue, the eldest daughter knew this about him, and she used it on him as psychological manipulation in her plan. She knew that if he saw her body tattooed up, he would no longer "want" her because he would always think of her with tattoos and be repulsed by it. If he wasn't somehow attracted to her in an incestuous way, this trick wouldn't have worked at all. It was clear there was something pretty sick going on in his mind and the older sister knew darn well what it was.


I meant that the eldest daughter knew he would no longer "want" her younger sister if he saw her tattooed up. That was the whole point of the plan.


"Tattooed For Murder" dealt with the harsh realities of a tyrannical father who used and abused his daughter in his home. The daughter had endured misery and agony all throughout her young life. Her mother -- in due time -- would find a recourse to escape the misery permanently. She would meet her mother at midnight at the carnival to leave her father permanently. The plan worked with confidence. His draconian ways of raising her daughter came to an end. She wanted a better life for herself; furthermore, she wanted to erase the horrors of incest and misery that impacted her young life. Incest was an issue that haunted the daughter in her younger years. She retained enough pride and courage to obtain a better life ... even though incest had haunted her after leaving her abusive father. Well Done!! Magnificent Continuity!! This episode would earn a score of 90.

Eric L. Ellis

A very hard story to listen to but very good in it's presentation and the acting. The father was controlling and beat his daughters, and it seems perhaps beat his wife which seems to have resulted in her death. There is no incest undertone to this as some have commented even though such topics we not openly spoken of at the time this was done. It does show how children can be psychologically damaged by such treatment by a parent. The ending is sad in that the eldest daughter resorts to murder of her father in her bitterness and need for revenge. Some have commented on how she left her sister behind, however the need to survive and escape was a driving factor. Human nature is geared for survival. She does come back to help her sister, but also to exact revenge out of hatred. Very intense story, glad there were commercials to listen to on this one!


It looks from the credits like this is the first Mystery Theater script by Nancy Moore, and, wow!, what a start! I always favor the episodes that are more like film noir than the supernatural. This was total realism. Very well written. Great acting, too. I often cringe when they have the very corn-fed American actors doing accents, but here we have German-born Stefan Schnabel doing a German accent that works for the script. This is a pretty brutal episode, so not for anyone looking for light fare. It's intense and very good. I'm looking forward to when Moore's other scripts come up!


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