The original fugitive
July 2, 2014 6:57 PM   Subscribe

July 4, 2014, will mark the 60th anniversary of the murder of Marilyn Sheppard. Her husband, Sam Sheppard, a prominent doctor in the prosperous Cleveland suburb of Bay Village, Ohio, claimed that her killer was a "bushy-haired intruder." The trial at which he was convicted was a media spectacle that was at the time unrivaled; it inspired the 1960s TV series The Fugitive and the 1993 movie of the same name. What better way to mark the occasion than by exploring the complete collections now online courtesy of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, including the crime scene photos, the coroner's report, the 1954 trial transcript, and the masterful summation by F. Lee Bailey that won Doctor Sam an acquittal 12 years later?
posted by How the runs scored (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
From the Wikipedia link:
Sheppard's third wife, Colleen Strickland Sheppard, was the daughter of professional wrestler George Strickland, who introduced Sheppard to wrestling and trained him to wrestle. Sheppard made his debut in August 1969 at the age of 45 as "Killer" Sam Sheppard, wrestling Wild Bill Scholl in his first match.[19]
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 7:16 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

On December 21, 1954, a jury found Sheppard guilty of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison. On January 7, 1955, shortly after his conviction, Sheppard was told that his mother had committed suicide by gunshot. Eleven days later his father died of a bleeding gastric ulcer. He was permitted to attend both funerals but was required to wear handcuffs.

In 1959, Sheppard voluntarily took part in cancer studies by the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, allowing live cancer cells to be injected into his body.

On February 13, 1963, Sheppard's father-in-law Thomas S. Reese committed suicide in an East Cleveland, Ohio motel.

So much pain for one family to bear.
posted by arcticseal at 7:18 PM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Atwater's closing argument, which is part of the trial transcript served in graphic form and beginning at page 1642, is an an amazing thing.
The only way that a fair trial can be had between a power that is as mighty, as large, and with as many resources as the juggernaut that is the state of Ohio, and one single citizen who is the defendant, is if the barrier of a jury is thrown in between.
The whole thing is like that, it's fucking poetry.
posted by localroger at 7:45 PM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Alright, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.
posted by notme at 7:57 PM on July 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

My mother had watched every episode of The Fugitive on TV. She was 16 when the finale aired and her father decided it was too violent for she and her siblings to watch.

She was STILL MAD when the movie came out.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:11 PM on July 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Fugitive was evidently very popular in Japan as well, as evidenced by fugitive veterinarian 'Richard Kimby" showing up on the very popular cat manga What's Michael.
posted by happyroach at 11:53 PM on July 2, 2014

The TV show and movie were also heavily influenced by Les Miserables (no, I'm not talking about the musical. Ever.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:55 AM on July 3, 2014

The whole thing is like that, it's fucking poetry.

It's exceedingly well written pandering is what it is. I had always assumed that all lawyers talked similarly in their closing arguments?

No disrespect to Mr Bailey and his clear facility with rhetoric, but for the first score-odd pages until he begins laying out his version of events it's very much "A humble lawyer such as myself could never hope to buffalo the collective intellects of your fine minds", "you jurors are the perfect example of why we are the Greatest Country In The World", etc etc.

No criticism of his professionalism intended, especially in the face of Judge Blythin's impressively amateurish behaviour. His compliment of Judge Talty speaks volumes in comparison.
posted by forgetful snow at 6:14 AM on July 3, 2014

I think that there was no physical evidence because he didn't physically kill her. But maybe his story was so bad because he knew and possibly paid the person who did, but it didn't go according to the plan.
posted by knoyers at 7:18 AM on July 3, 2014

Or maybe his story was so bad because aliens, knoyers.

Absence of proof is... nothing.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:36 AM on July 3, 2014

The Wrong Man is a great, In Cold Blood-level account of the case.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:18 AM on July 3, 2014

The Fugitive Guy.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:26 AM on July 3, 2014

I think Sheppard was probably guilty of murdering his wife. The evidence is overwhelming IMO.
posted by humanfont at 5:56 PM on July 3, 2014

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