Yes, Sam Did It
1. "Sam's confession": the big
Sheppard autographed a copy of his book, Endure and
Conquer, for Phyllis Moretti, a
beauty salon owner. In addition to his
autograph on the cover page, Sam scrawled a
big "YES" under the heading "DID SAM DO IT?"
on the teaser page. A handwriting
expert concluded that the "Yes" was
Sam's. This seems to be a bold
admission of guilt to a good friend.
BUT: THE WORD "YES" APPEARS ABOVE THE WORDS
"EVEN THE MOST ANTI-SHEPPARD READER WILL FIND
SOME DOUBTS." WHY WOULD SHEPPARD
SUDDENLY REVEAL HIS GUILT TO SOMEONE HE DIDN'T
KNOW THAT WELL? IT'S ALSO SUSPICIOUS
THAT MORETTI CONSIDERED WRITING HER OWN
BOOK ON THE SHEPPARD CASE.
2.The dog that didn't bark
Sheppards had a dog, Koko, that one might
have expected to have barked at the sight of
a nighttime intruder. The barking
presumably would have woken Sam in time to
prevent the attack on Marilyn. But Sam
said he never heard the dog bark.
BUT: EBERLING SAID THE DOG DIDN'T BARK AT HIM
WHEN HE WENT TO THE SHEPPARDS' HOME TO WASH
3. Lack of forced entry
discovered no sign of forced entry into the
Sheppard home, making the intruder theory
BUT: THE AHERNS, WHO SPENT THE PREVIOUS NIGHT
WITH THE SHEPPARDS, COULD NOT REMEMBER WHETHER
OR NOT MARILYN LOCKED THE KITCHEN DOOR.
ALSO, DEFENDERS OF SHEPPARD SUGGEST THAT THE
INTRUDER ENTERED THROUGH THE BASEMENT,
POINTING TO A TOOL MARK NEAR THE BASEMENT
4. Where's Sam's T-shirt?
said he wore a T-shirt on the night of the
murder. Presumably, if he was the
killer, the T-shirt would contain many blood
spots from the brutal murder. Asked by
police about the shirt, Sam said, "Maybe the
man I saw needed one. I don't
know." His explanation was weak at
BUT: A TORN T-SHIRT THAT MATCHED
SAM'S SIZE WAS EVENTUALLY FOUND A FEW
YARDS FROM THE SHEPPARD PROPERTY
LINE. THE T-SHORT WAS NOT FOUND TO
HAVE BLOOD ON IT.
5. The delay in reporting the murder and
inconsistencies in story
first call after the murder, at 5:40 A.M.,
was to his friend, Spencer Houk, not the
police. Autopsy results put the time
of the murder at between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M.,
and Sam's watch stopped at 4:15. Why
the delay in reporting the crime? Sam
says he was knocked out by the killer, but
the couple of hours between the murder and
reporting the crime also could have allowed
Sam to clean off blood and fingerprints,
hide or destroy his T-shirt, and make the
home look like it had been burglarized.
Several comments made by Sheppard on the
morning of the murder are, at best, odd and
most likely deceitful. For example,
after the Houks arrived, Sheppard remarked,
"Someone should do something for Marilyn"
even though he had to have known she was
dead....He also added details to his story
in each of his first few re-tellings.
6. Signs of a staged sex crime and robbery
Sheppard's desk as found by police after
is evidence that steps were taken to make
the crime look like a murder-burglary, when
in fact it was only a murder. For
example, police found desk drawers pulled
open, but evenly and without missing
items. Sam's doctor's bag was
overturned, but nothing was missing.
Also, Marilyn's top was pulled up, exposing
her breast, and her pajama bottom pulled
down, exposing pubic hair. Yet, there
was no sign of forcible rape.
7. 27 blows: a sign of passion?
Is it a burglar or an enraged husband?
That's the question...before you."--William Mason,
Attorney for the county in civil suit.
The murder scene suggested overkill--not
the act of a burglar.
Various theories have been offered as a
motive for the murder. For example, it
was suggested that Sam went to Marilyn's bed
seeking sex, and when she resisted, he flew
into a rage and killed her.
8. Sam's infidelity and troubled marriage
Sheppard had more than one affair during his
marriage to Marilyn, including his
relationship with Susan Hayes, a California
lab technician, which he originally denied
at Coroner Gerber's 1954 inquest. He also
had an affair with Bay Village resident
Julie Lossman shortly before the
murder. At least some of his
relationships were known to Marilyn, who
clearly resented them.
BUT GUESTS WHO VISITED THE SHEPPARD HOME THE
EVENING BEFORE THE MURDER REPORTED THE
SHEPPARDS SEEMED TO BE GETTING ALONG JUST
9. Sam's thumbprint on the headboard
thumbprint was discovered on the headboard of
his wife's single bed. The thumbprint is
in a place one might expect to find it if Sam
were there murdering, or getting ready to
murder, his wife. No fingerprints of
anyone other than Sam or Marilyn were found in
BUT: THERE IS NOTHING TERRIBLY SUSPICIOUS
ABOUT FINDING A HUSBAND'S FINGERPRINTS ON HIS
WIFE'S HEADBOARD. THERE ARE MANY
INNOCENT EXPLANATIONS FOR ITS BEING THERE.
10. Sam's bloody watch
Sheppard's bloody watch (above) was found in
a green bag on a bluff above Lake
Erie. The watch had stopped at 4:15
(suggesting that it had become waterlogged
at that time) and later went forward another
45 minutes before stopping at 5:00.
Sam said the water under the crystal got
there when he golfed in the rain or
"inadvertantly water-skied" with the watch
on. He claimed the blood got on his
watch when he took his wife's pulse.
Sheppard suggested that the murderer took
the watch off his wrist when he lay
unconscious on the beach, then put it in a
bag with a couple of other items (class
ring, key chain) and then dropped it or
threw it away. Oddly (if the murderer
was also a burglar), Sam's wallet was still
in his pants pocket. Prosecutors
suggest that the blood on the watch came
from blood spray at the time of the murder.
BUT: DEFENSE EXPERTS CONTEND THE
BLOOD SPOTS ON THE WATCH WERE NOT MADE BY
11. The missing table lamp?
witness testified he repaired a metal lamp
for the Sheppards and place in on the table
next to Marilyn's bed. After the
murder, there was no lamp on the table--an
obvious place for a lamp. At the civil
trial, lawyers for the county argued that
the pillow stain is consistent with the
U-shaped bow that surrounded the bulb and
supported the shade, suggesting that the
table lamp might have been the murder
weapon. (At the first trial, the
coroner described the bloody imprint as
resembling "a surgical instrument.")
BUT: THE STAIN COULD SIMPLY HAVE COME
FROM THE PILLOW FOLDING OVER ON CLOTTED
BLOOD. ALSO, A BADLY DENTED FLASHLIGHT
WAS DISCOVERED IN LAKE ERIE NEAR THE SHEPPARD
HOME, AND MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE MURDER WEAPON.
12. No type A blood
Eberling was found to have type A
blood. No type A blood was discovered
in any testing of blood stains coming from
the Sheppard bedroom.
Marilyn had type O blood, the same type
found on Sheppard's trousers.
|No, Sam Was
1. Sam's hard to
2. Marilyn on his lap
William Fallon, the director of a trauma
center, described Sheppard's neck and other
injuries as serious "and almost impossible
BUT: IT'S CONCEIVABLE THAT MARILYN, UNDER
ATTACK FROM SAM, CAUSED SAM'S INJURIES.
3. Sam's lack of previous
the evening before the murder, Sam and
Marilyn seemed to be getting along
fine. They had a meal with friends,
and then watched the movie Strange
Holiday on television. As
they watched the movie, Marilyn sat on Sam's
lap. This affectionate behavior
doesn't suggest that of someone seriously
thinking about killing his wife.
4. The damaged trophies
husbands that kill their wives have
assaulted them at previous times in their
marriages. There is no evidence that
Sam previously assaulted Marilyn--nor had
Sam ever been charged with any other act of
Also, Marilyn's body was found by police
spread-eagled with nipples and pubic hair
exposed. Defenders of Sheppard suggest
that exposing a wife in that way for others
to see is "not something husbands do."
5. Where's all the blood on his
police search turned up trophies that seemed
to have been scratched or in other ways
damaged. There is no reason why
Sheppard, proud of his athletic prowess,
would have damaged his own trophies.
The damage would more plausibly have been
caused by a killer who hated the Sheppards
and was jealous of Sam's accomplishments.
BUT: IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT THE TROPHIES WERE
DAMAGED ON THE DAY OF THE MURDER. THE
DAMAGE MIGHT HAVE BEEN INFLICTED BEFORE THEN.
The pants worn by Sheppard on the
morning of July 4, 1954
6. DNA analysis of the closet
blood spattered on the walls of the bedroom
suggests that Marilyn's blood was flying in
all directions when she was killed. If
Sam was the killer, one would expect to find
Marilyn's blood spots in numerous places on
Sam's pants. Sam's pants, except for
one significant stain, were blood
free. Also, his shoes, socks, and belt
were without blood stains--and blood stains
are hard to wash off.
Moreover, according to DNA expert Dr.
Mohammed Tahir, the blood stain on Sam's
pants did not come from either himself or
Marilyn--but, presumably, from the killer.
BUT: IF SHEPPARD FOUGHT THE KILLER, WHY DIDN'T
HE HAVE MORE BLOOD ON HIS PANTS? ALSO,
THE BLOOD STAIN FOUND ON THE PANTS WAS TYPE O
(AS WAS MARILYN'S) AND EBERLING HAD TYPE A
7. Sam's apparent lack of motive
to DNA expert Dr. Mohammed Tahir, only 1 of
out of 42 people have a DNA profile
consistent with a large blood stain found on
a closet door near Marilyn's bed--and
Richard Eberling is one of those rare
BUT: THE DNA TESTED WAS OLD AND BADLY
DETERIORATED. THE RESULTS AREN'T
8. If he did it, he'd have a
prosecution never really offered a clear
motive for the murder. There isn't
any. Marilyn knew about Sam's affairs
(and seemed resigned to the situation), they
had a pleasant evening the night before with
friends, they had a young son sleeping in a
nearby room, and talk of divorce was
sometime in the past. Why would Sam,
suddenly in the middle of the night, trot up
the stairs from the daybed on which he was
sleeping and brutally murder his wife?
It doesn't make sense.
BUT: SOME MURDERS DON'T SEEM TO MAKE
SENSE. WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING
WHAT MIGHT HAVE TRANSPIRED IN THE EARLY
MORNING HOURS OF JULY 4. SAM, FOR
EXAMPLE, MIGHT HAVE DEMANDED SEX AND BEEN
REFUSED BY MARILYN, SENDING HIM INTO A
RAGE. AT THE VERY LEAST, WE KNOW THAT
SAM'S AND MARILYN'S MARRIAGE WAS
TROUBLED. HE HAD REASONS FOR WANTING HER
OUT OF THE WAY.
9. A forensic expert, after examining blood
spatter evidence, concluded the killer was left-handed
was a reasonably smart guy with sometime to
come up with a story. Why couldn't he
have a more plausible story than the one he
gave? Possibly, the very implausiblity
of the story--getting knocked out by the
killer TWICE, the murderer taking his wallet
from his pants and then leaving it in the
living room, wrestling with the murderer on
the beach, Sam's description of the killer
as a "bushy-haired" man--makes it more
likely to be true.
BUT: COME ON!--GETTING KNOCKED OUT TWICE?
Sheppard is right-handed.
BUT HE COULD HAVE USED IS LEFT HAND TO BATTER
MARILYN WHILE HOLDING HER DOWN WITH HIS
RIGHT....OR THE FORENSIC EXPERT COULD JUST BE
10. The sperm in Marilyn
11. The murder weapon was not, as first alleged, a
Mohammed Tahir, a DNA expert, determined
that one small sample of sperm found in
Marilyn did not come from Sam.
BUT: SO LITTLE SPERM WAS FOUND THAT IT
SUGGESTS CONTAMINATION OF THE SAMPLE WAS THE
12. A forensic expert concluded the murderer
bled from a cut hand.
Gerber, who claimed the bloody imprint on
the pillow was made by a "surgical
instrument" searched high and low for a
surgical instrument that could produce such
an imprint. He never found one.
BUT A MORE LIKELY MURDER WEAPON WAS A
FLASHLIGHT AND A DENTED FLASHLIGHT WAS FOUND
IN LAKE ERIE IN FRONT OF THE SHEPPARD
HOME. SAM MIGHT HAVE TOSSED IT INTO THE
LAKE AFTER USING IT TO KILL MARILYN..
Paul Kirk said blood on a blood trail seemed
to come from a cut hand and Sam had no cut
on his hand when examined after the murder.
BUT: THERE IS NO WAY OF PROVING THE BLOOD CAME
FROM A CUT HAND. IT COULD HAVE HAD A
13. Sam's refusal to confess
14. Eberling stole Marilyn's ring
and admitted bleeding in the Sheppard home
criminals, subjected to the gruelling
hour-after-hour interrogation that Sam
Sheppard faced, might be expected to
confess. Sheppard never did.
Publicly at least, he maintained his
innocence until his death. Even his
own lawyers, to whom he might have been
expected to confide his guilt, were never
told by Sam that he was guilty.
BUT: SHEPPARD, LIKE ANY MURDERER, HAD A STRONG
REASON NOT TO CONFESS. IN ADDITION TO
TRYING TO AVOID PRISON, HE MIGHT HAVE HAD AN
INTEREST IN PROTECTING HIS SON FROM HAVING TO
LIVE WITH THE ADDITIONAL BURDEN THAT HIS
FATHER WAS A MURDERER. ALSO, HIS "YES"
(SEE 1 TO LEFT)
MIGHT BE SEEN AS A CONFESSION.
15. Eberling's alleged
in 1959 for larceny, Richard Eberling, a
former window washer for the Sheppards, was
found to be in possession of a cocktail ring
owned by Marilyn Sheppard. Questioned
about the Sheppard murder by police,
Eberling said that he had bled in the house
just days before the murder after he
accidentally cut himself. He also knew
of an obscure basement entrance to the
BUT: F. LEE BAILEY CONCLUDED THAT
EBERLING WAS NOT THE MURDERER, BASED ON
EBERLING APPARENTLY PASSING A LIE DETECTOR
TEST. HE ACTUALLY CALLED EBERLING AS A
DEFENSE WITNESS IN THE 1966 TRIAL--SAM
SHEPPARD, A FEW FEET FROM HIM AS HE TESTIFIED,
NEVER SUGGESTED "THAT'S THE GUY I SAW THAT
(Wagner) Dyal, a former nurse's aide to
Ethel Durkin, who was murdered by Eberling,
testified at the civil trial that
Eberling revealed to her that he killed
Marilyn Sheppard: "He told me that he
had killed her and that he hit her husband
on the head with a pail and that 'the bitch
bit the hell out of me.'"
In 1998, shortly before his death,
Eberling in an interview with James Neff,
the author of a book on the Sheppard murder
mystery, described finding himself in the
bloody Sheppard bedroom. "My God,"
Neff reports him saying, "I had never seen
anything like it. I got out of there."
BUT: EBERLING APPARENTLY PASSED A LIE
DETECTOR TEST SHOWING THAT HE DID NOT KILL
SHEPPARD. MOREOVER, EBERLING HAS
GIVEN MANY IMPLAUSIBLE ACCOUNTS OF THE
SHEPPARD MURDER, SOME OF THEM DEMONSTRABLY