TV presenter Wade Anders has used underhanded tactics to steal the plum job of anchorman on Crime Alert
(a programme that reconstructs unsolved crimes and invites the public to help solve them) from rival Budd Clarke. Clarke, who has been relegated to be the presenter of the 11:00 news, has obtained a copy of a pornographic video made by Anders some years ago. He threatens to announce Anders's seedy past on the 11:00 news unless Anders resigns as host of Crime Alert.
Anders uses Clarke's chain smoking habit to devise a plan to murder him. Anders doctors a pack of cigarettes with a potent poison and, when he goes to Clarke's house to discuss the situation, replaces Clarke's cigarettes with the poisoned package. Clarke soon smokes one of the poisoned cigarettes and dies within minutes. Anders then removes all evidence of the pornographic video and sets the scene to make it look like Clarke died of a heart attack.
Columbo soon uncovers inconsistencies at the crime scene, but needs to discover the crucial clue that places Anders at the scene of the murder.