Dr. Sam Sheppard
On April 6, 1970, Sam Sheppard, a doctor convicted of murdering his pregnant wife in a trial that caused a media frenzy in the 1950s, dies of liver failure. After a decade in prison, Sheppard was released following a re-trial. His story is rumored to have loosely inspired the television series and movie "The Fugitive."
On July 4, 1954, Sheppard's wife Marilyn was beaten to death in the couple's Bay Village, Ohio, home. Sheppard, an osteopathic doctor, contended a "bushy-haired" attacker had beaten him as well. Dr. Sheppard was arrested and stood trial for the murder of his wife in the fall of 1954. The case generated massive media attention, and some members of the press were accused of supporting the perception that Sheppard was guilty. Prosecutors argued that Sheppard was motivated to kill his wife because he was cheating on her and wanted out of his marriage. In his defense, Sheppard's attorney said his client had sustained serious injuries that could only have been inflicted by an intruder. In December 1964, a jury convicted Sheppard of second-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison. However, after a decade behind bars, Sheppard's new criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to grant his client a new trial because he had been denied due process. At the second trial in 1966, Sheppard was found not guilty. After being released from prison, Sheppard briefly returned to his medical career and later embarked on a short stint as a pro wrestler, going by the name "The Killer Sheppard." No one else was ever charged for Marilyn Sheppard's murder. However, in the late 1950s, a window washer named Richard Eberling, who had worked at the Sheppard house, came under suspicion when one of Marilyn's rings was found in his possession. In the 1980s, Eberling was convicted of murdering another woman, and he died in prison. Sam Sheppard, who became a heavy drinker in the last years of his life, died of liver failure on April 6, 1970, at age 46.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: