|Born||Samuel Holmes Sheppard|
December 29, 1923
|Died||April 6, 1970 (aged 46)|
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
|Cause of death||Liver failure|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens (1970–1997)|
|Occupation||Osteopathic physician-neurosurgeon, professional wrestler|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment (overturned)|
Samuel Holmes "Sam" Sheppard, D.O. (December 29, 1923 – April 6, 1970) was a Bay Village, Ohioneurosurgeon initially convicted for the 1954 murder of his wife, Marilyn Reese Sheppard. The case was highly controversial from the beginning, with extensive and prolonged nationwide media coverage. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that the "carnival atmosphere" surrounding Sheppard's first trial had made due process impossible; after ten years in prison he was acquitted at a second trial.
Sheppard was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of three sons of Dr. Richard Allen Sheppard D.O. He attended Cleveland Heights High School where he was an excellent student and was active in football, basketball, and track; he was class president for three years. Sheppard met his future wife, Marilyn Reese, while in high school. Although several small Ohio colleges offered him athletic scholarships, Sheppard chose to follow the lead of his father and older brothers and pursued a career in osteopathic medicine. He enrolled at Hanover College in Indiana to study pre-osteopathic medical courses, then took supplementary courses at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Sheppard finished his medical education at the Los Angeles Osteopathic School of Physicians and Surgeons (now University of California Irvine) and was awarded the Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O) degree.
He completed his internship and a residency in Neurosurgery at Los Angeles County General Hospital. A few years after marrying Marilyn Reese on February 21, 1945, in Hollywood, California, Sheppard returned to Ohio and joined his father's growing medical practice at Bay View Hospital.
The murder of Marilyn Reese Sheppard
On the night of July 3, 1954, Sheppard and Marilyn were entertaining neighbors at their lakefront home (demolished in 1993) on Lake Erie at 28944 Lake Road in Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, just west of the city. The property itself abutted the shore of Lake Erie, near the west end of Huntington Reservation. While they were watching the movie Strange Holiday, Sheppard fell asleep on the daybed in the living room. Marilyn walked the neighbors out.
In the early morning hours of July 4, 1954, Marilyn Sheppard was bludgeoned to death in her bed with an unknown instrument. The bedroom was covered with blood spatter and drops of blood were found on floors throughout the house. Some items from the house, including Sam Sheppard's wristwatch, keychain and key, and fraternity ring, appeared to have been stolen. They were later found in a canvas bag in shrubbery behind the house. According to Sheppard, he was sleeping soundly on a daybed when he heard the cries from his wife. He ran upstairs where he saw a form in the bedroom and then he was knocked unconscious. When he awoke, he saw the person downstairs, chased the intruder out of the house down to the beach where they tussled and Sheppard was knocked unconscious again. He awoke with half his body in the lake.
At 5:40AM, a neighbor received an urgent phone call from Sheppard who pleaded for him to come to his home. When the neighbor and his wife arrived, Sheppard was found shirtless and his pants were wet with a bloodstain on the knee. Authorities arrived shortly thereafter. Sheppard seemed disoriented and in shock. The family dog was not heard barking to indicate an intruder, and their seven-year-old son, Sam Reese "Chip" Sheppard, was asleep in the adjacent bedroom during the whole ordeal.