Delores Prudy is an eighteen year old temptress and the daughter of an illiterate laborer. In the novel In The Heat Of The Night, she fears that she is pregnant when she has an affair with Ralph, the nineteen year old night counterman at the local all-night drive-in restaurant. Ralph isn't a great catch by anyone's standards: he is of low intelligence, belligerent, racist, and poor.
Delores has her sights set on the local policeman, Sam Wood. She tries to entrap him by making sure he sees her nude in her home when he patrols her neighborhood every night. However, Sam isn't too interested in Delores' sexual signals and drives by each night without bothering to stop at the Purdy home. Delores then tries to entrap Sam by falsely accusing him of statutory rape. She slyly does this when Sam is temporarily imprisoned for being the suspected murderer of Enrico Mantoli, reasoning that he would not be able to refute her charges in his current position. Delores' goal is to snare a husband with a steady job and to raise her social station in life. Her story falls apart when she refuses to submit to a physical examination to determine whether she is actually pregnant, and by whom.
Enrico Mantoli was the original concert conductor and organizer of the music festival in Wells. He was murdered by Ralph, the night counterman at the local drive-in restaurant. Enrico is characterized as a generous man with progressive views about race and race relations; at the time of his death, he was carrying a good amount of cash in his wallet. Duena Mantoli stated that her father was an impulsive character, and that he enjoyed meeting new people. His concert was supposed to have brought in much needed revenue to the town of Wells; his murder was eventually solved by Virgil Tibbs, the black detective from Pasadena, California.
Duena is Enrico's daughter; to Sam, she is a beautiful and courageous woman. Both Sam and Duena fall in love with each other. A resourceful and perceptive woman, she eventually concluded that Delores Purdy was not pregnant and that Sam couldn't have possible murdered her father. It is obvious that Duena inherited her father's impulsive and generous character; when she visits Sam in prison, she makes Sam submit to a unique test to prove his innocence. Sam submits to the test and is equal parts as enthralled by her ravishing beauty as he is with her child-like trust in his sincerity.