Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial: The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder

Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial: The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder

Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial: The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder

Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial: The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder


Marilyn Sheppard, four months pregnant and mother of a toddler son, was bludgeoned to death in her Bay Village, Ohio, home in the early morning of July 4, 1954. The cause of death was twenty-seven blows to the head with a heavy instrument. Who took her life so brutally has been the subject of much controversy and debate for nearly a half-century.

Was it her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, who was convicted in what was then called “the Trial of the Century,” in the case that helped inspire the TV series and the movie The Fugitive? Or was the killer, as Dr. Sam claimed, a “bushy-haired intruder”? Or could it have been Richard Eberling, the window washer who worked for the family, as the Sheppards’ son, Sam Reese Sheppard, believes?

Dr. Sam spent ten years in prison before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the initial verdict in an important legal decision, determining that the doctor did not receive a fair trial due to excessive press coverage. Defended by F. Lee Bailey in his second trial in Cleveland, Sheppard was found not guilty of his wife’s murder. And then in 2000, in what has been referred to as “the Retrial of the Century,” Sam Reese Sheppard attempted to prove in a civil trial, while suing the State of Ohio for millions of dollars, that his father had been wrongly incarcerated.

Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial presents a comprehensive and final analysis of this controversial case from the perspective of the prosecutors. Jack P. DeSario, together with co-author William D. Mason, chief attorney for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, provides all the facts, evidence, expert testimony, both old and new, and sworn statements of the principals in this case, which concluded in April 2000. The jury unanimously found that Dr. Sheppard was not innocent.


Marilyn Reese Sheppard was brutally murdered in her bedroom on July 4, 1954. The cause of death was twenty-seven blows to her head by a heavy blunt instrument. She was thirty-one years old and four months' pregnant. Her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, claimed that a bushy-haired intruder killed his wife, but with few exceptions the law enforcement community of Ohio believed then and continues to believe even now that Sam Sheppard was the murderer.

This book sets out the facts in this famous murder case, one that has obsessed the public for half a century. Although the murder occurred in the mid—twentieth century, it was still being litigated as the twenty-first began, and the legal verdict of guilty or not guilty seesawed back and forth through three trials.

With all the elements of a tragic drama—a handsome young doctor, a beautiful pregnant woman beaten to death with her young son sleeping in the next room, a mysterious intruder, marital infidelity, an idyllic setting in small-town suburban America—this horrific crime and the subsequent trials have become part of American social history. From the beginning the Sheppard case has held the rapt attention of the media. It has been the subject of seven books and countless documentaries and is erroneously, but nevertheless strongly associated with, the long-running television series The Fugitive, popular made-for-TV movies, and even a major motion picture. It is our contention, however, that all of these have heightened the drama while misrepresenting the facts. All have been presented from the perspective of the accused. For the first time, here in this book, the State's side is told.

The prosecutor in the third trial, in 2000, a civil suit brought by the Sheppard Estate for wrongful imprisonment by the State of Ohio, was William Mason, who initiated a complete review of the case before making a decision about how or whether to proceed. In his determination to reach the right conclusion, Mason and his team undertook an extensive . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.