Little Bits of History

The Fugitive?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 18, 2010

Marilyn and Sam Sheppard

November 16, 1966: Samuel Sheppard, D.O. [doctor of osteopathy] is acquitted of the murder of his wife, Marilyn, after spending nearly ten years in prison. On July 4, 1954 Marilyn, then 31 years old and four months pregnant was brutally murdered while the couple’s seven year old son slept peacefully down the hall.

The couple had been high school sweethearts where Sam had been senior class president and quarterback for the football team. He, his brother, and their father ran Bay View Hospital just west of Cleveland, Ohio. Sam and Marilyn seemed to have it all. They lived a good life, however Sam had secretly kept a mistress for years, a nurse at the hospital.

On July 3, 1954 they had dinner guests who left the couple late in the evening. Marilyn went to bed, but Dr. Sam stayed downstairs to watch TV and fell asleep on the couch. In the middle of the night he was awakened by a sound and went upstairs. There he saw something fleetingly and was then struck from behind and knocked out for a time. He awoke to see his wife’s blood-covered body. He heard more noises downstairs, went down and saw a “bushy-haired” man and gave chase. He caught up with him on the beach behind the house and was again knocked unconscious.

He was found guilty of the murder on December 21. Chief counselor was William Corrigan who continued to file appeals without success. Corrigan died and within months, a young lawyer named F. Lee Bailey took up the case. He appealed the Ohio courts again and had the prior trial thrown out because of cited improprieties. Dr. Sam was found not guilty, but there is still mystery surrounding the death of his wife. Books have been written proving his innocence and others proving his guilt. There is supposition that the TV show The Fugitive was based on his story, but both the Sheppards and the producers deny this.

“Well, he’s guilty as hell. There’s no question about it.” – Judge Edward Blythin, trial judge’s statement on first day of original trial

“Most people judge others simply by how prosperous or popular they are.” – François de la Rochefoucauld

“It’s not your client’s obligation, or your obligation, to prove your client’s innocence. It is the prosecution’s obligation to prove you’re client’s guilt.” – Anderson Cooper

“The issue of guilt or innocence should be decided in the courtroom, not in the forum of public discussion.” – Muneer Ahmad

Also on this day, in 1945 UNESCO was founded.

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