The Puzzling Case of Marilyn and Sam Sheppard
This. Week on BuzzFeed and soft we're taking a look at the murder of Marilyn. Sheppard a homicide, case that broke a quiet suburban town wide open and became the basis for a major Hollywood blockbuster. Jurassic. Park I. Don't. Know what's. It move, with the movie is it I can't. Can you tell I ain't, too much away I know you know the movie so I can't tell you what it is because then you're just gonna know there's gonna be a point in this script where you're gonna be like oh that, film, that, film starring. Hmm. You put in the actors name and Tristan this. Is not gonna be come up is that this movie guessing came it may, that, aside, I will say one thing interesting, about this case is it's the first case we've ever covered where there's actually, a conviction. Oh so. That being, said let's. Get into goodies. On, February. 21st. 1945. Dr.. Samuel, Sheppard and Marilyn, Reese were married and settled near Lake Erie Ohio, two. Years later they, had their first and only child, affectionately. Nicknamed, chip. Revolutionary. Road oh. Yes. You're guessing two sentences in huh yeah there's. Anybody even died in that film yeah maybe I don't remember you don't even you just. Sam. Was, a respected, neurosurgeon. And the attractive, couple was believed to have a happy, marriage their, small, suburban community. Was the kind where all their neighbors were friends, and maybe. A little, too friendly, on, July, 3rd. 1954. The, Sheppard's hosted, their neighbors for dinner drinks, and a movie just, after midnight Sam fell asleep on the couch and Marilyn, said her goodbyes to the guests, what, transpired, in the next few hours has, been the source of an intense scrutiny and is still a mystery, at. About 5:40, a.m. on, July 4th Mayor Spencer, Hoke a close, friend of the shepherds, awoke, to a phone call from Sam saying quote my, god Spence get over here quick I think, they have killed Marilyn. End quote Hoke, and his wife Esther, raced to the house to find Sam shirtless, in his study holding. His neck, seemingly, in a state of shock they, called the police and first responders arrived. By 6 a.m. he, falls asleep yes but then he's calling the cops doesn't call the cops cause the mayor that's kind of cool skip. The cops call the mayor I mean I guess it's a small town what the hell's the mayor gonna do I'd love to know the mayor from the police report Marilyn's. Body was found lying upwards, her, face turned, toward the door beaten. Beyond, recognition she, had over 20 gashes, curved deep into her face and scalp blood. Covered the sheets and the walls were, dripping with heavy spatter, her, pajamas, were partially, removed leaving her exposed. Eventually. The autopsy, determined Marilyn's, time of death was quote about, 4:30, a.m. and, quote. It, also, sadly, revealed, that Marilyn had been four months pregnant with her second child also. A boy according. To Sheppard he had been asleep downstairs when, he heard Marilyn shout, his name he. Ran up to the bedroom to find Marilyn, being attacked, by a quote, white. Form, end quote, they, fought but Sam was hit on the back of his neck and knocked out when, he came to Marilyn. Was dead and the white form, was, gone, worried. For his son's safety Sam, ran two chips room where he thankfully, found him sleeping soundly, he, then hurried downstairs to, see the form exiting. Through the back door he, chased the tall and bushy-haired, figure. Down to the shore of Lake, Sam, explained, that he quote lunged. Or jumped and grasped, and quote, at the Forum on the beach and then, quote I felt, myself twisting, or choking and this, terminated. My consciousness, and quote, when, Sam woke he was nearly dawn and he was missing his shirt and wash it's, weird, I don't get it he wakes up from a nap hears commotion upstairs he. Sees a ghost, no a white form I don't know why he keeps saying it's a form like it's Michael Myers a shape the shape he sees. The shape truth or story that's, far well I mean I don't really have a if. You had to call it truth or story, I guess. I'd go truth I don't know the man well enough to really gauge his character, yeah, I'll, give the benefit of doubt what makes you think this is more plausible then I don't know he seemed scared you know I guess, I will. Say at this point it sounds like a story to me mainly. Because all the details seemed wildly. Convenient, in terms of what's convenient about a white form, though cuz if you were lying, you'd be like yeah there's like a person, if I'm fighting you and I've never seen you first, things I'm saying big head weird mustache unkempt.
Hair Kind. Of gangly pale, big. Nose kind. Of smelled like cottage cheese I don't, smell like cottage, cheese so throw. That testimony, out but you agree with all the other stuff yes okay in, the early morning hours of July, 4th. 1954. The, police arrived, at the Sheppard house to find a gruesome crime scene where, the only witness, to the possible, murderer was, also, the most likely suspect. With, that let's. Get in to, some theories by the way do you know what film this is yet I don't know what film this is yet okay our. First Theory the fugitive, is. It, the fugitive. Maybe. I mean yes or no I. Didn't. Kill my wife our. First theory and the most popular, one is that the entire story was made up in that Sam Sheppard murdered, his wife in, cold blood there. Was no sign of forced, entry and, no, murder weapon, present, at the scene the, desk drawers were neat which would not be normal, in the case. Coroner. Sam Gerber, commented, on the blood on Marilyn's pillow saying. Quote in this blood-stained I could make out the impression, of a surgical instrument, and what, a weapon that would have been convenient, for a neurosurgeon. In, a bush outside gerber, found a canvas, bag with Sam's wristwatch, fraternity. Room and key. All, covered. In blood. Oh he's, a doctor Sam, Sheppard is a doctor that was here that was also a fugitive. That was also in the first emergency, yeah I got that now, when's. Tommy Lee showing up I don't, know I think you're getting a little bit away from what we're talking about here why does this not look good for Sam cuz all his shit is covered in blood in the days following Marilyn's. Murder, investigators. Began honing in on Sam's, rumoured, infidelities as a possible, motive evidence. Pointed, them to a woman, named Susan Hayes a lab, technician at the hospital, meanwhile. Media, fervor escalated. By July 20th, headlines, read quote someone. Is getting away with murder and quote, calling. For Sam's arrest and conviction on, July. 21st, the Cleveland Press headline read quote why, no inquest, do, it now dr., Gerber end quote, sure.
Enough Later that day dr., Gerber called an inquest, and subpoenaed, Shepard to attend the, three-day spectacle. Was a quote media, circus, and flow culminating. With Gerber asking Sam quote did you ensue Hayes at any time sleep in the same bed end quote to which Sam replied quote absolutely hot. And cold, following, the inquest, on July 30th, 1954. Sam, Shepard, was arrested, and charged, with the first-degree murder, of Marilyn, Sheppard, well. I got to that quick huh and honestly like investigating. These things like we just, sort, of, brush. The, fine, details, a little bit really don't dig too deep. It. Seems like a huge pain in the ass just. To rest somebody I'm not gonna even there's granted, it's not our full-time jobs, but if it were mine I'd be like how does one show at the station man I'm so, glad you, are not any kind of investigating, authorities I mean I haven't ever claimed, to want to be good. I'm. Not saying that, like. We should just throw innocent, people in jail kind of what you just said I can. Get, this wrapped up before noon so I could open a chili black saying, I can understand, the impulse to be like no. Do your best god I, mean if this guy's putting himself in the situation where, Oh while your clothes are covered. In blood that, doesn't happen to nice, people they, don't do their job icky, unbelievable. The first trial began, on October, 18th, the prosecution. Relied heavily on, coroner, Gerber's damning, evidence at, the scene along, with the heavy media pressure to convict their, last witness was Susan Hays he's, confirmed, the two year long affair and, when Sam took the stand he finally, admitted to the infidelity. Unfortunately. In addition, to revealing that he'd lied he, also came off as arrogant, and, glib do, you buy the the logic, that they were clearly, a peddling, here which, is he, lied about that he could be lying about this murder no two different things right two different things yes yeah, that's fair and it doesn't surprise me that he'd be arrogant, and glib because doctors are well. That part you can maybe not do that when you're on the stand probably, hard to avoid you're you're playing God every, day well I mean I'm also a doctor he's like I have fixed brains though, every doctor, does have to have bedside, manner you can't put a little bit of that up on the stand I don't know if the surgeons, have to do that though oh I guess you're knocked down there like little Beethoven. Mr.. Bidet I'm looking at your brain. I've. Done mine I am brilliant I've done now are ya that's true I'm here on December, 16th. The jury found Sam Sheppard, guilty of the second-degree murder of his wife Meryl.
Shepard. Received life in prison with, the possibility of. Parole after 10 years but, the damage reverberate, had far beyond his sentence, Shepards, mother died by suicide just, a few weeks later his, father passed away just days after that and several. Years later, Maryland's, father would also die, by suicide in. 1963. Ok so there's you know consequences. To locking up the wrong person for I get it I get it look, I've learned my lesson that's kind of why I was going on to do your job well you have the luxury of knowing where this little weird garden, path ends up I still think generally. You should do your job within, reason not within reason, you do your job, stop saying within reason I mean don't be working nights and weekends, no I what, I said was when, you step, in between work hours, you do your ok now that I respect, I thought I said in the beginning okay, I thought you were saying like stay till 7:30, p.m.. You. Know that's dinner time but, this, was only Shepherds, first, trial his, brothers continued, to support him even, after the devastating, toll the trial had on their family, they, hired a forensic scientist, dr.. Paul Leland, Kirk to, review the state's physical, evidence, because, coroner Gerber had not introduced, any fingerprint. Or blood evidence that could have exonerated their, brother Gerber. Had decided shortly after he arrived at the scene that Sam was, guilty telling another detective quote, it's, obvious, that the doctor did it end quote, in, 1961. Sheppard's. Brothers hired a new attorney, f lee. Bailey who. Got the trial reopened, on grounds, that it was poorly managed, by the presiding judge Edward. Blyth in Bailey. Argued that judge Blanton, denied, Shepards, defense, motion, to move the trial out of Cleveland, where there was no chance of a fair trial due to the biased press coverage because, he was seeking re-election and, used, the spectacle, for his own game your this man I am this man you're a doctor, Ryan Bergara is a doctor, look at me Ryan, be a doctor. You've, murdered your wife Oh. Would. Your brother Jake. Nice. Guy we go back to the doctor participant you're a doctor, what does my diploma look like I don't know but it's spattered, with blood is it framed nicely where's it in my my yeah it's in your den sick. Okay. Go back to go with Google next to your wife's bleeding, body okay okay. Because you've murdered her Jesus, Christ I didn't murder her though didn't. You I didn't, I don't, care, I. Got. Him. We. Got him they're popular, syndicated, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen who, covered the original trial, confessed, years later that she had an unethical, private. Conversation, with the judge bleiben in which, he told her he saw the case as quote open-and-shut. And quote, and quote he's. Guilty as hell and quote, had, she reported this at the time blyton, would have been removed from, the case sounds, like a person who should be presiding, over this murder case, yeah very unbiased. Judge the most unjustly, thing I've ever heard the most honorable, thing I've ever heard that's, crazy you shouldn't be doing that as a judge yeah. I think you should go in there and hear. Him out at the very least the he's the guy that's like we gotta. Get. Out of here guilty. As hell I got. Ya. That's Shane my day as a judge by July 15th, 1964. Bailey's, petitioned, that Judge Blanton, failed to shield the jury from media making them biased, was granted, the, court called Sheppard's trial a quote mockery, of justice, end quote, and ordered. His release Sheppard's. Retrial, began on October 24th. 1966. Once, on the stand forensic. Scientist, dr. Kirk analyzed. That the blood splatter would have covered the murderer in the victim's blood but, Sam only had one spot, on his pants Kirk, also determined, that much of the splatter came from the backswing of the weapon indicating. The murderer had used their left hand but, Sam was, right-handed he. Also noted, that Maryland's teeth were found underneath, her body meaning, that she had likely broken, them while biting her attacker, Sam, had no bite marks or open, wounds when he was examined, at the hospital, but the most damning, evidence was, when Kirk revealed, the, largest, blood spot found on the closet door didn't. Match Marilyn, or say. So was likely from, a third party entirely. Forensic, science is crazy to me yeah, also not fun I know people, have a passion for these things but gosh, imagine.
Going, Home and, being like well how was your day how. Was my day I don't. Know it was great I found some teeth under a lady or, I covered, a knife in fake blood and I went like this to see where would fly it actually sounds pretty fun you know they leave bodies decomposing. Out in a field that's how they know this, is it's, fascinating, stuff they, leave bodies out and they just let them decompose, and based on how those look after a certain that's, how they like date how long bodies, have been decomposing. Is that incredible, didn't you say you wanted your body to be left in a fuel when you die it's a call to sky burial, and I want the vultures to eat me I still think dropping you out of a plane and seeing where you land is funnier it's funny to do. Whatever the hell you want just. Me at a red light trying. To change the radio station, just. Holy. Shit, it's a noodle lamp which leads us to our second, theory our second. Theory is that Sam Sheppard was telling the truth and his wife was, murdered by a quote bushy-haired. White, form end quote. Beyond, Sam's statement, as many, as three witnesses, testified, to seeing someone, matching that description, Richard, and Betty knitter told the police they saw such a man near the Sheppard's home around 3:30 to 4:00 o'clock a.m., on the morning of, the murder which, lines up with Marilyn's time of death at around 4:30, a.m. just. Really quickly I don't know why I didn't occur to me until now what, a richard and betty knit are doing up at 3:30 and 4:00 o'clock in the morning. They. Have the presence of mind while, doing that to look out the window maybe, they're freaks man it looks like a bushy here wife or maybe they're like lures, there like the. Window. Who's. That guy no, no yes. Right, back to sweat. I'm. Talking about six, I just, know from my own personal experience, when I hear a bump in the night my, immediate reaction is not to go to them you go oh no. What happened the phantom has entered my house exactly. What I had talked exactly like a boo boo, hello, is his dad one one, I have a cartoon phone do devil.
Is Here send, GOG they described, him as quote, white, between 32, and 42 years of age wide, nose bushy, crew-cut hair light, auburn in color bushy, eyebrows, long, sideburns end quote. This was enough detail, to provide a forensic, sketch sounds, like Kramer no, no no that's the last face I saw before leaving this earthly, coil. I. Wouldn't, like it the, presence of the bushy-haired man, was substantiated, in, Sheppard's first trial by medical professionals who. Attested, to the seriousness, of the injuries, he sustained, fighting, Maryland's, attacker a nurse, testified, that Samms quote feet, were all shriveled up as if, they had been in water a long time end quote, consistent, with Sam's story that he got knocked out on the shore a radiologist. Said Sam's x-ray, revealed a probable, fracture of his second cervical vertebra, two, other doctors, said there was no way to fake his neck spasms, or the swelling, at the base of his skull yeah, it's not like he could have committed to the craft knocked himself out in the back of the head and then put his feet, in a bucket of water or something like that I mean it could have knocked himself out by the lake but that, feels like an insane, amount to watch but, it was Sam Shepard's son chip, who would provide a name to a bushy-haired, face, he, had spent years trying, to solve his mother's murder and he believed that the blood belonged to Richard Eberling Richard. Eberling had, been the Shepherds handyman. For a time and had, intimate, knowledge of the houses layout, including. An obscure, basement, entrance, additionally. He had been found in possession of two stolen cocktail, rings that had belonged to Marilyn, Sheppard, however. When questioned, about the murder he passed a polygraph test, where he denied killing Maryland, which cleared him of being, investigated, further. Stupid. Baloney, yeah, do, we need to say any more about that another bullshit also he had two rings that were stolen I'm not saying every time, somebody. In the house steals something they're a murderer but doesn't. Look great no, I stole. A little lego man from one of my friends growing up didn't. Murder him yeah. Despite. Being cleared, in 1989. Everland was convicted, of the aggravated, murder of Ethel Mae Durkin nine, years into his sentence, Evelyn, gave a deathbed, confession that, he had also killed Marilyn, Sheppard, one. Witness testified, quote a Burling told me that he had killed her and that he hid her husband, on the head with a pail and that, in a burling's words the, bitch but the hell out of me end quote, as much as like infidelity, and petty theft don't necessarily. You. Know equate, well this person is morally bankrupt enough to commit a murder I would, argue that committing, a different, murder, probably. Equates to committing another murder I think you have it in you at that point too maybe murder, someone. Else I agree with that analysis, case closed, lock him up, so. I guess he's dead he's, dead put a skeleton in jail okay like a special graveyard, for for, murderers I don't think they do that's, an interesting type they're like what do you it's cool idea, start. A go fund me skeleton. Jail but. Was Richard Eberling telling. The truth besides. The main theories, there, were two other suspects, that raised some questions, the first one was Esther Hoke F lee, Bailey believed. That the murder of Marilyn Sheppard could have only been perpetuated. By another woman there were rumors that Marilyn was having an affair with Esther's, husband, Spencer the mayor and the first person Sam called that fateful morning Bailey. Said of hoax motive, and means quote, one possible, motive is feminine jealous hatred sparked, to action, by some event disturbing, to the killer a jealous, killing, requires, a woman, killer end quote. Well everyone, knows that Jeff Skilling requires, a woman killer everybody. Knows that trust, me I'm, a doctor. Trust me I'm, a man. During. The retrial, Bailey, got Esther, to admit she had ignited her coal fireplace, the morning of the murder despite. The fact that it had been a warm summer evening he, implied she might have been trying to burn bloody clothes and other evidence and also. That she was left-handed like, the killer however. There, was no evidence to prove Spencer, and Marilyn had an intimate, sexual relation. Jib and seemingly, no, further legal action was ever taken and, against the hoax I'm tired of this what, is this guy talking about this seems like Oh a flailing, yeah. Especially when, it's preceded, by the. Handyman, this. Seems, kind. Of out of left field the second suspect was Major James comm ex-fbi.
Agent Bernard. Connors, believed, that Maryland was murdered by Major James call an Air, Force pilot who went AWOL in 1954. To embark on a murderous, crime spree Conner, said the Sheppard murder fits, with calls MO in which, he would break into a house of sleeping, people and used violence, against, anyone, he came across a, small crowbar. Found in calls possession, could have been used to cause Maryland's, injuries, even. More compelling Maryland. Likely bit her attacker and call, had, his scar that seemed to be from a deep bite mark on his left index finger when, they captured, calm they questioned, him about Maryland's, murder but never pursued, the link where. Does this guy coming for I don't know about this man this is this man I mean I think this is kind of a common, in most of these kill of these murder cases where they try to link it to a notorious, serial killer it just seems like if not for the sensationalize, aspect, of it yeah, it's an easy theory, deposit, can I be honest with you this, man sounds scary, obviously. This man's a murderer I don't know if he's the murderer for this case maybe not our murderer but, a murderer, this sounds kind of like when you're asked to give like a quarterly, report to, your business and you have to have a certain amount of figures, to make it look like you were doing a good job so, as a detective, you need a certain amount of theories and you, just Pat it with this yeah yeah yeah, you've had your stats a little bit yeah you're just you're, making your your essay look a little more exactly, I've done the font-size you're up you're up in the font-size of periods yes, that's what this person's deal with some people do the periods I used to do all in time just. Fat circles, in the middle that he would never know it was enough it was enough and now he. Solves crimes. But. Whether it was heuk call a Burling or simply, just not shepherd reasonable. Doubt was all they had to prove I would. Say case closed in that aspect reasonable, doubt has been proven in my mind, yeah that he did not do it I agree and he spent roughly a decade in jail so. So. Thought. Had to sneeze I thought you were getting choked up per se no, I was like this is what does it all because some lazy lazy. Judge. Also, I mean like even without the judge your spouse gets murdered you're suspect number one that's just how the game goes I wasn't for that just keep an eye on your spouse's. Make. Sure they don't go form that. Shame the days disclaimer. Make sure your spouse does not get murdered at all costs you should part, of the deal and in June 1966. The Supreme Court ruled that Sheppard did not get a fair trial in an 8 to 1 vote, Sheppard. Was acquitted, his innocence, however remains. In question the. Last year's of Sheppard's, life were not necessarily. Happy ones following. His release he married, a German, woman who he had exchanged, letters with while, in prison it, was later discovered that her half-sister was, the wife of Joseph Goebbels Adolf.
Hitler's, Propaganda minister. Wait what yeah that's crazy not good I mean you, know half-sister. So maybe, maybe. Fine you know we've all got weird cousins and I mean. It doesn't mean that she's been a bad / that's right like we, got bad apples and our families I'm sure yeah they're out there like if my brother went on a murder, spree I'm not a murderer no you're a nice guy, thanks man yeah I think you're a nice guy also for the record I don't think Jake would go on a murder I don't think Scott would go on a murder spree we have great brothers, what. About us would. You go no I wouldn't, go on a nurse neither would i okay so we're good Shepard, had his medical license, reinstated. Then soon revoked after two patients died, in surgery, his, German bride divorced, him and he became a professional, wrestler. Working under the name killer. I'm happy for him I will normally not cool that he became a wrestler. He. Kind, of makes up for it you think that's a normal pivot, UC neurosurgeon. To wrestler. How many neuro stairs no small that's why I kind of applauded, you don't become a wrestler because, you don't love wrestling. I. Suppose. But to me it's as weird as if you became a pro wrestler after, we do this now I kind of want to see a sequel to the fugitive holy shit. He. Also ended up marrying the 19 year old daughter of his wrestling manager at 46. Years old he died from liver failure after, many years of alcohol. Abuse and depression, it's, certainly, one. Of the stranger 6-year arcs. I've ever seen, it's a sad arc that has weird, interesting, details, in it while not guilty, Sam, Shepard, was never really proven innocent the, court of public opinion bolstered. By the ongoing, media frenzy surrounding his, wife's murder made, finding the truth impossible. Shepards, release was more about the mismanagement of the trial rather than the actual, evidence in his defense but, one thing is for certain in the, early morning hours of the fourth of July, 1954. Marilyn. Sheppard, was brutally, murdered and the, truth of who killed her will, remain. Unsolved. What. A doozy good, one Ryan it's, crazy you. Know that, is an important, thing to note as crazy. As the circus was that surrounded, Sam Shepard Boston, it sometimes is the fact that Marilyn, Sheppard was murdered, obviously. That's a tragedy and it's, tacking, on to that it's a tragedy what happened to Sam Shepard even if he in fact did not do it yeah so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna cling on to the memory of him being a pro wrestler I was gonna say he makes me happy all of these stories are awful, and miserable, and I walk away from them feeling sad and I don't enjoy hearing, them but. The one thing we can hang on to is that maybe, he. Loved being a wrestler, maybe in his last days he enjoyed giving a nice elbow yeah so, hey I'm, walking away with that and no, one can take it away from me. I'm. Fine with that.