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The Sheppards Sam and Marilyn Sheppard.
Chronology of a Murder

Forty-five years after a jury convicted Dr. Sam Sheppard of bludgeoning his wife to death in his home, the Ohio courts will once again hear testimony in a Sheppard trial. In January 2000, Sam Reese Sheppard, the doctor's son, will bring a wrongful-imprisonment suit against the State of Ohio in an effort to prove the innocence of his father, who died in 1970.

Below is a riveting chronology of events in the Sheppard case, a story that has transfixed the nation ever since the early morning hours of Independence Day, 1954. The chronology was excerpted with permission from Mockery of Justice: The True Story of the Sheppard Murder Case, by Cynthia L. Cooper and Sam Reese Sheppard (Penguin Books, 1997). NOVA Online, which added all entries after 1996, has no opinion either for or against any of the details described in this chronology.



July 4, 1954
Early a.m.
Marilyn Reese Sheppard murdered by severe beating in her bed. She was four months pregnant.

5:50 a.m.
Bay Village mayor Spencer Houk and his wife, Esther, arrive at the Sheppard home after getting a call from Dr. Sam Sheppard.

6:02 a.m.
First officer, Fred Drenkhan, arrives at the Sheppard home and murder scene.


Young Sam Sam Reese Sheppard was seven years old when his mother was murdered in the next room while he slept.

6-7:30 a.m.
Police officers, relatives, press, and neighbors troop through the house.

Samuel Reese Sheppard, seven years old, then called Chip, is carried away from the house by his uncle Richard.

Dr. Sam Sheppard, in pain, is removed to Bay View Hospital.

8:00 a.m.
Coroner, Dr. Sam Gerber, arrives.

9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Dr. Sheppard, under sedation and being treated for shock and neck injuries, which he said resulted from his struggle with an intruder, is visited several times and interrogated by the coroner, coroner's investigator, local police chief, two Cleveland police officers, and Bay Village police. By midafternoon, Cleveland officer Schottke tells Sheppard, "I think you killed your wife."

Sheppard home sealed and closed off to Dr. Sheppard until after Sheppard is convicted.



Marilyn Marilyn Sheppard was entombed on July 7, 1954, three days after she was brutally murdered in her home.
July 7, 1954
Funeral of Marilyn Sheppard. Son, Sam R., does not attend because of extensive press coverage.

Prosecutor criticizes Dr. Sheppard for refusing to permit immediate questioning, although he has already been questioned on several occasions.


July 8, 1954
Headline: "Testify Now in Death, Bay Doctor is Ordered"—one of hundreds of articles, many with untruths or inadmissible information, printed in the next few months.


July 9, 1954
Front-page story: "Doctor Balks at Lie Test."

Sheppard leads a contingent of officers through the house, showing them what occurred.

Window washing company employee Vern Lund leaves town.


Continue: July 10, 1954

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