Crime Investigation Reports

Officer directs neighborhood boys who search Lake Erie shoreline for evidence in Sheppard case

1.  The Initial Police Report


The following is a statement of Patrolman Fred F. Drenkhan, age 27, residing 477 Canterbury Rd.  Bay Village, Ohio, with reference to the investigation of the homicide of Marilyn Sheppard, age 31, married address 28924 Lake Road, Bay Village, Ohio,  

I am a duly appointed member of the Bay Village Ohio Police Department and am assigned to regular duty. 

On the morning of July 4, 1954, Sunday, I received a telephone call at 5:57 A. M. a male voice stated “is this Les” I said no it is Fred, he said this is the Mayor something, terrible has happened to Marilyn, I think it is murder - I said "where are you” he said at Sam Sheppard's house and add get the ambulance and get over here right away. I hung up the phone and told Dick Sommers, the fireman on duty that the mayor said that there was a murder at the Sheppard’s home, and that we are leaving, they should come right away. I told Patrolman Roger Cavanaugh to take the other police Cruiser and follow me over.

I arrived at the Sheppard's home at about 6:00 A. M. Mayor Houk or his wife, Esther Houk met me at the Lake Road Entrance the door enters into a hall and so I entered this door way directly in front of me in the hall was a black leather Doctor’s bag, standing on it's end facing me with it's contents spilled out - I walked directly to a study which was to my right

or on the East side of the hall - I looked into the study and saw Dr. Sam Sheppard  half lying and half sitting in a large red leather chair, I believe:

I heard Esther Houk say “go upstairs and see what you can do for Marilyn”. She directed me into the kitchen which was directly opposite the study on the west side of the entrance hall, through the kitchen to a stairway which goes up three flights of stairs to a landing, and then three steps down into the living room, the stairs leading up stairs from the center landing. She

Followed me upstairs – directly at the head of the stairs there is a bed­room- I entered this room and observed twin beds, four poster type, on the bed closest to the door I entered I found the body of Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard. She was lying with her head about three feet from the head board on her back, with her right arm lying beside her, and her left arm folded over her stomach - the legs were bent at the knees protruding over the outer edge of the bed, beneath a cross bar. I observed many lacerations on her forehead, considerable clotted blood about her hair and face. The upper part of her body from her stomach to her neck was covered with a checked blouse or shirt; the lower part of her body was covered with bed clothing; exposing only her stomach. She appeared to be dead at that time. Making an observation of the room I observed shades were drawn; there was blood Spots on the door leading to the bedroom which was open; there was some cloths lying and hanging on a rocker at the foot of the bed in which she was lying, there were two pairs of ladies shoes; one pair was a white moccasin type, the other pair blue oxford tennis shoes.  It immediately went downstairs and outside to the police car and radioed for a doctor be sent immediately and that Chief of Police, John Eaton, and Sgt. Jay Bubach be notified and come up. At this time I had informed that Dr. Richard Sheppard had been called already and was on his way - I then went to the house and to the study where Dr. Sam was, he was still sitting in the red leather chair, he had no shirt or under shirt, he wore a pair of brown trousers. I also observed discoloration at the right side of his face at the eye which was swelling; there was evidence of a swelling at the right cheek at the corner of the mouth, I inquired as to, what had happened and he related that he did not know, he had heard Marilyn  scream, that he was fighting on the stairs; that he was in the water; that he came upstairs, at this time he clasped both hands at the back of his neck; and turned his head and said nothing more.  Meanwhile the members of the Bay Village Fire Department arrived; Fireman Dick Sommers and Volunteer Fireman Roland Callihan were up stairs with the stretcher in the bedroom- As I was coming down the stairs I met Doctor Richard Sheppard coming in the hall from the Lake Road Door Entrance; Dr. Richard Sheppard went over to the study and looked in at Dr. Sam Sheppard and I directed him to come with me upstairs immediately, he proceeded me up the stairs and on the way he asked  for some kitchen knifes, I reached back and gave him three kitchen knifes off  the rack above the sink in the kitchen, he entered the room turning on the light; he walked around the bed in between the twin beds; he examined her; in a professional manner; he replaced the instruments in his bag, an returned the kitchen knifes to mea and then went down stairs and went to the study where Dr. Sam Sheppard was. I then informed Mayor Spencer Houk that I felt that we needed some assistance, and asked that the Cleveland Police Homicide Department be notified as well as Dr. Sam Gerber, County Coroner. Mayor Houk agreed that this would be done shortly thereafter upon the arrival of Chief Police John Ell ton I called the Cleveland Police Detective Bureau and the Coroners Office to obtain the phone number of Mr. Raymond Keefe, whom I notified. I then searched the premises for the weapon and other evidence; I made an examination of the premises. I went in the upper yard and down approximately fifty steps to a porch surrounding a beach house from here I could observe the beach in both directions and there was no evidence to indicate that there might have been a struggle or foot prints on the beach, on returning up the stairs I saw the third step from the top several water blotches continuing up to the lawn, going into the porch and into the living room I observed a small pool of water on the threshold between the porch and living room.

At about 6:20 A.M. I was joined by Chief of Police John Eaton and Sgt. Jay Hubach- I continued to look about the home and on the stairway and the landing leading upstairs there was small pools of water. At this time I noticed that Dr. Steve Sheppard, Dr. Sam Sheppard’s brother, was present in the study, and while conversing with Sgt. Hubach I saw Mrs. Stephen Sheppard, and Richard Sheppard, Jr. escorting Dr. Sam Sheppard’s Son Junior, also known as Chip out the door leading to Lake Road. A short time later Detective Michael Grabowski of the Cleveland Police Department arrived and along with him we searched the premises for possible evidence for a forcible entry before taking photos of the victim and scene. At this point Dr. Sam Gerber arrived, made an examination of the bed and then ordered the remains sent to the county Morgue. Shortly after the body was conveyed to County Morgue by Poase Undertaking Home Ambulance.

Dr. Sam Sheppard was then taken to Bay View Hospital by Dr. Stephen Sheppard's in his car - Together with Cleveland Police Department Detectives Patrick Gareau and Robert Schottke, we made extensive search and examination of the property. Later on that day I went to Bay Village Hospital and photographed the face of Dr. Sam Sheppard but had no conversation with him. That day I also took photos of the home interior.

Q: What was the condition of the doors (2) at the Lake Road entrance of the Sheppard home when you first arrived?
A: I would say the screen door was closed but not locked, the inner door was open, and I was admitted by Mrs. Esther Houk.

Q: Describe the wearing apparel found in Marilyn Sheppard’s room near the rocker when you arrived?
A: There were two pairs of shoes, one pair being white moccasin type, the other pair being a dark oxford tennis type shoe, along side there laid a
pink panty, on the rocker there was a pair of white shorts, a white bra, two sweaters one of which was white, the other I believe was blue, a 1eather ladies belt, a white or
beige mans shirt was hanging on one edge of the rocker, over this hung a pair of blue shorts.

Q:  How many lights were on when you reached this bedroom?
A: I observed no lights when I reached the bedroom.

Q:  Who called Dr. Richard Sheppard to the scene?
A: To the best of my knowledge, Mayor Houk did.

Q: Describe the condition of the living room on your arrival?
A: The door leading from the dinning area of the “L” shaped living room on the North side of the house, leading on to the porch the door was half way open the screen door leading from the porch, to the lawn was fully open. On the North wall to the West of this door there was a desk which is a secretarial type was in disorder. On the floor in front of the desk their laid papers, envelopes, tax stamps.

Q What was the condition of' the desk in Dr. Sam Sheppard’s study?
A When I first entered the study the top of the desk appeared in order; the doors from the desk were removed except one, and were set about the desk, on the floor.

Q: Did you know at that time what the weather condition was?

A: At was about sunrise, the sky was clear, there was no noticeable breeze, and the lake was quieting down, but was still rough from the wind during the night.

Q: How far from the retaining wall at the Sheppard beach was the sand dry?
A: Not much more than a foot.

Q: How much of it was wet from the water washing up to the shore?
A: Well there was a visible beach of about three feet from the dry portion of the sand making it a total of about four feet from the waters edge to the retaining wall with the surf occasionally washing on it.

Q: When did you first have an opportunity to question Dr. Sam Sheppard relative to the murder?
A: Thursday Ju
ly 8, 1954 in the afternoon at Bay View Hospital.

Q: How do you account for this delay?

A: His attending Physician Dr. Stephen Sheppard ruled that the patient's condition would not warrant an interview for any length of time.

Q: When you did question him, did he state that he had seen a person in his wife’s bedroom when he arrived at the head of the stairs.
A: He stated that he saw a form, the top of which was white at the bed side of where Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard was found - but did not discern any positive description of this form.

Q: Did he state how he sustained his injuries?
A: Yes, he stated that on entering the room where this form was he thought he had been struck from behind as he lapsed into unconsciousness, shortly thereafter he regained consciousness and found himself in a sitting position with his wallet in front of hill and the badge that was in the wallet reflecting light.

Q: Did he hear a noise downstairs while getting up off the floor?
A: Yes, he immediately ran down stairs and went into the living room and in the door way he made out a figure, he chased this figure down the stairs to the beach where he encountered him and had a brief struggle and he again lapsed into unconsciousness on the beach - he regained consciousness lying face down on the beach with the water wallowing back and forward.

Q: What was his answer when you questioned him relative to his ascending the stairs after he had regained consciousness on the beach?
A: He stated that he went up stairs to Mrs. Sheppard's room and covered her because at her modesty, he did not know the exact time but it wall almost day light.

Q: What was his reply when you stated you did not think a stranger could run down these steps in the darkness?
A: He said he did not know.

Q:  At the time that you arrived at the Sheppard home can you state whether or not the Doctor's hair was wet or was there any indication that he been in the water any time?
A: No, I did not observe that.

Q: Do you recall whether or not there was sand in his trousers?
A: No, I do not know.

Q: Do you recall asking him whether or not the person he allegedly pursued had a weapon in his hand?
A: He said he did not see anything.

Q: The first time that you had an occasion to go down to the beach waters edge was there anyone else in the vicinity?
A: Yes, on the second pier east belonging to the Metropolitan Park there were two or three persons half way out on the pier which were later interviewed and whose identity is known to us.

Q: Did Dr. Samuel Sheppard inform you as to how he had received his injuries?
A: Yes, he thought he was struck by someone once when he first went up stairs but he was very vague as to what had occurred on the beach regarding his injuries.

Q: Do you know the extent of his injuries?
A: His attending Physician Dr. Elkins
(Elkins) stated that his neck injury caused him to loose the sense at his left arm and that there was some damage to his teeth; and that he was coherent and could be interviewed.

Q: How many times did you attempt to interview Dr. Sam Sheppard between July 5th and 8th 1954?
A:  I attempted to interview him on the afternoon of July 7, 1954 but did interview him at length on
July 8, 1954.

Q: Was there ever any indication which would show if there was one or more persons who walked up the steps from the beach to the Sheppard home or down the steps?
A: No.

Q: Did Dr. Sam Sheppard ever state that there might have been more than one man?
A: Yes, when he went up stairs the first time the form he saw at the edge of the bed, the upper part of it, was white; the form that he chased down on to the beach was bigger than he and in dark clothing. Dr. Sam thought that there were two men.

Q: Is there anything else you can tell us?
A: No.

2.  Excerpts from the Report of Criminalist Dr. Paul Kirk (1955)

By far the most significant evidence to be found was the blood distribution in the murder room. Proper interpre­tation of this distribution must give the reconstruction of the crime because every blow struck placed its signature in the room in blood. It is also the most significant and possibly the only signifi­cant evidence that can be offered on blood studies. It was virtually disregarded by the earlier investigators...

This single region in the entire periphery of the room in which no blood had traveled through the air must by necessity be the region in which the attacker stood, since it is the only place in which the blood drops have been intercepted...

It seems very clear, that the teeth were clamped on something that was forcibly withdrawn with removal of the frag­ments completely from the mouth. The only reasonable article would be the attacker's hand. It is equally certain that a bite of this ferocity would have left distinct injury to such a bitten member, and that blood would have been shed.

This is not pure speculation but a reasoned approach to the established facts, and it must represent at least a close approximation to the truth. Blood shed from the hand after being bitten could have placed the large spot on the wardrobe door, and in fact flowing blood from a wound is about the only reasonable manner in which this blood could have been placed....

 It is the opinion of this examiner that the mur­derer had a definitely injured hand or finger on July 4,1954.

[Kirk compared a large blood spot found on the closet door with other blood found in the room:]

Several differences were immediately apparent. The blood from the very large spot was definitely less soluble than that from the small spot, or from controls from the mattress. In running the agglutination tests, in every instance and with tests for both A and B factors, agglutination was much slower and less certain than the controls. The fact that delayed agglutination occurred indicated clearly that this blood was also 0 Group but its behavior was so different as to be striking. These differences are considered to con­stitute confirmatory evidence that the blood of the large spot had a different individual origin from most of the blood in the bed­room.

Tests of the large spot of blood on the wardrobe door which were conducted by this affiant, establish in affiant's opinion that it is human blood, that it is not the blood of the de­fendant, Dr. Samuel H. Sheppard, and that it is not the blood of Marilyn Sheppard, the murdered woman...."


It would have been next to impossible for him [Sam] to tear the pants as they are tom in removing the key chain, since the only movement of his hand that is possible with­out contortion is upward and outward, not downward as required....            

It is entirely certain, that the actual murderer received blood on his person, and no portion of his clothing that was exposed could have been exempt from blood staining....

Inspection of the spot [on the sheet] shows that blood was present in spattered drops before the other fluid was present, since the blood has been carried laterally with the flow of fluid, and original blood spots are still present, only partially dis­placed by the diluting fluid.

The obvious and probably correct interpretation of this finding is that the defendant placed his knee at this position after coming from the lake. The water from his wet pants would have pro­duced exactly the effect observed. It is to be noted that this region did not show in the mattress directly below, or on the pad below the sheet. Thus it is shown that the amount of diluting fluid was quite limited, such as would be carried by a single layer of cloth.

[The blood smear] lies just where a knee would have to be placed to balance him during the wielding of the weapon. It also seems indisputable that these smears, which do not appear elsewhere on the bed, accurately depict the position of the murderer's knee and confirm the previous analysis of his position. It indicates that he had one foot on the floor, the opposite knee being on the bed, so that his body was actually over the northeastern portion of the bed. This detail of position allows also some inference regarding the length of the weapon and its closeness of approach to the east wall of the room on the back swing, all of which are important con­siderations in the over-all analysis of the crime.....

The weapon was almost certainly not over a foot in length and had on it an edge quite blunt but protruding. This edge was almost certainly crosswise to the axis of the weapon and could have been the flared front edge of a heavy flashlight. It was not similar in any serious respect to the alleged impression of a surgical instrument on the pillowcase, nor to any of a large variety of possible weapons that have been suggested by the prosecution.....

The pillow from the victim's bed indicates far more than was stated or implied in the testimony regarding it," he said. "Solid regions of bloodstain are present on both sides of the pillowcase. One of these can be explained by contact with the pool of blood on the bed which seems to have spread far enough to be soaked up by the sheet. Blood spatter from the blows themselves show that the side opposite to the alleged instrument mark was upward during the beating. That it was earlier in contact with liquid blood in quantity is shown definitely by the large bloody area on that side which could not have been placed during the beating had the pillow remained as it was found. It is certain that the pillow was either used to prevent outcry earlier, or that the victim attempted to shield herself by holding the pillow on her face or head. In either case the pillow had to be moved at a subsequent time, and was probably doubled down on itself and folded in such a manner as to produce a mirror-image blood impression later interpreted as an 'instrument impression'....

An occasional drop of blood may fall from some weapon some time after the weapon is immersed in it," Dr. Kirk said. "Most of the excess blood drains away immediately, but when the wet sur­face is large the slow drainage of the viscous blood allowed dis­tances of as much as fifty feet to be covered in normal walking before the last blood was lost. Most objects tested as weapons lost the last drop within fifteen feet of normal walking. Blood may ad­here to a static or swinging weapon for as much as forty-five sec­onds after dipping in fresh blood. In every instance the blood is lost as a few large drops unless the weapon is shaken vigorously to dislodge the smaller accumulations.

No such large drops were found anywhere in the alleged blood trails .... A vigorous movement will displace small drops, but car­rying it normally displaces either nothing at all or large drops, de­pending on the amount of accumulation. If any of the blood were shaken from the weapon after leaving the room, it still is not rea­sonable that this process would continue to the basement and ga­rage, and in any instance it tells exactly nothing about the hand that held the weapon....

Briefly, no actual proof of a technical nature was ever offered indicating the guilt of the defendant, and the facts that were established and offered are even more readily interpreted in several respects in terms of another murderer than the defendant....

As a person who was fully aware of the danger associated with a blow to the back of the neck, and faced with the almost insur­mountable difficulty of delivering such a blow at all, and certainly of doing it under control, no doctor would ever risk trying it. It is also peculiarly difficult to deliver a blow of any force to one's own face. Neither of these injuries can be reconciled with self-infliction.

It is equally ridiculous to assume that these injuries were sus­tained in falling from the landing platform at the beach. That type of fall would inflict many abrasions, bruises, and secondary injuries to the limbs, with the serious possibility of broken bones. It could not under any circumstances select the back of the neck and his face for the only injury. No satisfactory explanation except that given by the defendant has been advanced for his injuries.....

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