Cleveland Crime Chronicles: The Murder Trial of Sam Sheppard

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Sheppard Murder Case (1954-1966)

July 4, 1954 —The beating death of Marilyn Sheppard in the early morning hours at the Bay Village home she shared with her husband, Samuel Sheppard, and their son sparked a controversial murder trial that could be considered the O.J. Simpson case of its day.

Police were suspicious of Sheppard's claims that the murder was perpetrated by a bushy-haired man, and he was arrested on July 30th. As a media circus proliferated throughout the trial, the defense was ultimately unable to convince the jury of Sheppard's innocence. On December 21, 1954 Dr. Sheppard was convicted of 2nd degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

After appeals, a Supreme Court ruling and a subsequent retrial in 1966, Sam Sheppard was found not guilty.

The Sheppard case has had an influence on our popular culture providing the premise for a television series (The Fugitive, 1963; remade in 2000) and a motion picture (The Fugitive, 1993).

Photos courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project

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