Sam Sheppard walked into the inquest wearing sunglasses and a leather neck brace. Bright light had hurt his eyes, he said, ever since the blow to the base of his skull the night of his wife’s murder.
Sam’s brother, Stephen, and Stephen’s wife, Betty, had protected Sam since Marilyn Sheppard’s bludgeoning death 18 days earlier. They’d taken him from the crime scene to Bay View, the nearby hospital the Sheppard family owned. Now they stared down the Cleveland Press photographer as one would an enemy. “Why No Inquest? Do It Now, Dr. Gerber,” the paper’s front page had demanded the day before.
At the inquest, on July 22, 1954, in Bay Village’s Normandy School gymnasium, Sheppard told Gerber he’d grappled with a large man in his wife’s bedroom and on the beach of his lakefront home.
Sheppard was jailed July 30 and found guilty of murder that December — but the U.S. Supreme Court threw out his conviction, citing the “carnival atmosphere” in court. He was acquitted at a second trial.