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When the Husband is the Suspect 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0765316134
ISBN-10: 0765316137
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



After dinner guests left for the evening, and his pregnant wife had gone to bed, Dr. Sam Sheppard told police, he watched a movie. He said he eventually fell asleep and woke very early on the morning of July 4, 1954, having heard a noise upstairs. A moment later his wife, Marilyn, screamed and called his name. This was followed by more noises. Dr. Sheppard said he immediately thought his wife might be having painful convulsions (she'd had them before during her first pregnancy).


The home was dark, but there was a light in the upstairs dressing room. Dr. Sheppard ran upstairs to the master bedroom, where he said he saw a "white form" over his wife and next to the bed.


Dr. Sheppard claimed he wrestled with the figure, not knowing if it was a man or a woman, and was struck from behind and knocked unconscious.


When he regained consciousness, he saw that his wife was lying in a pool of blood on the bed; she had been beaten.


Dr. Sheppard said he found no pulse and ran to his son's room. The son was still sound asleep, and he decided not to disturb him yet.


There were more noises coming from downstairs, and Dr. Sheppard went to investigate and said he saw a man outside the screen door. He chased him down the back steps and onto the beach. Though it was still dark, Dr. Sheppard said he could make out a "large, powerfully built man with a good- sized head and bushy hair."


Dr. Sheppard said he lunged at the man, but ended up knocked unconscious again. When he came to, his legs were in the water and his head was on the sand. He returned to the house, went back to the bedroom, and called Spencer Houk—his friend and neighbor who was also mayor of their suburb, Bay Village.


Houk and his wife came to the house shortly before 6:00 a.m., and together they called the police.


Sheppard repeated his story to the police, Houk, and later to an expert from the Scientific Investigation Unit of the Cleveland police.


The next day, local newspapers ran Sheppard's story, applauding him for trying to catch the man who killed his wife.


Their support would soon evaporate.




The youngest of three sons, Sam was born in 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio, and later attended Cleveland Heights High School, where he served as class president three years. During his senior year he was recognized for his accomplishments in football, basketball, and track, and his senior class voted him "The Man Most Likely to Succeed."


He considered becoming a professional athlete and could have chosen one of several athletic scholarships offered by small colleges, but instead he followed in the footsteps of his father and older brothers and pursued osteopathic medicine.


During World War II, Sam decided to enlist in the army but was talked out of it by his father. Instead he enrolled at Hanover College in Indiana for preosteopathic courses. (In the summer, he studied at Western Reserve University in Cleveland.)


While he was at Hanover, Sam gave Marilyn his fraternity pin, which signaled their engagement. He'd first been introduced to her in high school, when she'd dated one of his brothers. Marilyn attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, while Sam continued his studies, graduating from the Los Angeles Osteopathic School of Physicians. In September 1945, he asked her to move to California with him. She agreed and they were quickly married. Marilyn wanted to start a family right away. Her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage but, in early 1947, she gave birth to Samuel Reese, who was quickly nicknamed Chip.


Sam graduated from medical school, finished his internship, and became a resident in neurosurgery at the Los Angeles County Hospital; however, at the urging of family, Sam, Marilyn, and Chip returned to Ohio in 1951, where Sam joined his father's hospital and family practices.


Their first house was a two- level Dutch Colonial in a Cleveland suburb. It was poised on a cliff above Lake Erie and close to Bay View Hospital.


While Sam worked, Marilyn stayed at home and tended the house. She taught Bible classes at the Methodist church. The Sheppards summered on the lake and co- owned an aluminum boat with neighbors J. Spencer and Esther Houk.


Sheppard reportedly had one affair during their marriage, which he said Marilyn knew about.


He said in the months before her death that their marriage had been improving.


Marilyn was four months pregnant on the night she was killed.




Cleveland police and a detective from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department investigated the scene, their efforts complicated by a house already filled with news reporters.


Sheppard, meanwhile, had been taken to the hospital and sedated.


As neighborhood boys helped search for evidence, the mayor's son soon found Sheppard's medical bag in the weeds near the beach.


This bag, along with other pieces of evidence, went through many different hands before the authorities tested for fingerprints.


The coroner arrived at 8:00 a.m. He estimated that Sheppard's wife had been killed between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M. The coroner determined she had nearly three dozen wounds on her head, and he noted that her watch had stopped at 3:15.


Meanwhile, investigators interviewed Sheppard at the hospital, even though he was still under the influence of the sedatives.


As police questioned Sheppard about his affair with a Bay View Hospital nurse, it was clear that they were skeptical that he had been knocked unconscious twice by a mystery man. They wondered why Sheppard's son had not woken up and if the family dog had barked during the struggle and at the noises Sheppard said he had heard. The police had found no obvious signs of a break- in in their preliminary investigation.


Though one of the investigators acknowledged that he suspected Sheppard had killed his wife, there was no arrest for a few weeks.


Sheppard posted a $10,000 reward for the capture of his wife's murderer, but it was left unclaimed.


In the media there was speculation that Sheppard was receiving special consideration from the mayor and police chief. Perhaps in response to these favoritism claims, the coroner soon announced an inquest into Marilyn Sheppard's death—more than two weeks after her body had been discovered.


Sheppard was extensively questioned during the proceedings, which his attorney was not allowed to attend, as it was not an official court action.


As questions continued to swirl around Sheppard's affair and the matter of the shakiness of his marriage, the nurse he'd had the affair with testified to sexual encounters that had gone on for years. The media reported the entire sordid story.




Twenty- five days after the murder, Sheppard was arrested.


On October 18, 1954, the trial began. It would last until just before Christmas of that year.


The prosecutor was John Mahon, assisted by Saul Danaceau and Thomas Parrino. Sheppard's attorney was William J. Corrigan, assisted by Fred Garmore, William Corrigan Jr., and Arthur Petersilge, the longtime Sheppard family lawyer.


The defense requested a change of venue. It was denied.


The names of prospective jurors had been published the month prior to the trial, and prospective jurors admitted receiving phone calls and threats, and were frequently questioned by the press. According to news reports, only one prospective juror said he had not read or heard about the case.


It took seventeen days to select the jury, and the panel was never sequestered during the trial.


The trial was a media circus from the first day. The jurors were bused to the Sheppard house to view the scene of the crime. The media had been notified ahead of time, and reporters waited at the property to take pictures and freely interview the jurors.


During the court proceedings, deputy coroner Lester Adelson described the autopsy and showed pictures of Marilyn Sheppard. He admitted to a lack of thoroughness at the autopsy, as they did not examine the contents of her stomach and did not test for rape . . . even though from the appearance of the body it certainly looked like she had been sexually assaulted.


Spencer and Esther Houk confirmed Sheppard's frantic call telling them his wife had been murdered, but Esther also cast some doubt on his story when she reported that the Sheppards had been known to argue.


Cuyahoga County coroner Sam Gerber testified to the gruesome condition of Marilyn's body, claiming: "In this bloodstain I could make out the impression of a surgical instrument." He further testified that she had been killed by blows to her head that had been made with a twin-bladed surgical instrument or something similar.


A physician who had treated Sheppard the afternoon of the murder testified that Sheppard's injuries were minor and primarily consisted of a black eye and cheekbone temple swelling, nothing serious enough to support the claim that he'd been knocked unconscious twice.


The prosecution also called Susan Hayes (the nurse with whom Sheppard had had an affair), who testified about her various rendezvous in Sheppard's car, in the clinic, and in her parents' house. She said she once received a watch from him, and said he had talked about getting a divorce so he co...
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Readers expecting that Bailey-one of the best-known criminal defense attorneys of the last half-century-would provide insight into spousal homicide will be disappointed by this book, which adds nothing fresh to our understanding of the 20 cases discussed. The case studies (including some of the most prominent examples of accused wife-killers, such as O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Sam Sheppard, Scott Peterson, Claus Von Bülow and Jeffrey MacDonald) are presented in chronological order, but the chapters jump around in time, becoming confusing and sometimes repetitive. Bailey's commentaries at the end of each chapter often digress to general criminal-justice issues rather than focusing on novel interpretations of the evidence. The chapter on Simpson (Bailey was a member of his defense Dream Team) is a tease-the author begins his comments by noting that "a proper delineation of what would need to be said" in Simpson's defense "is best left for another day." And the account neglects defense lawyer Barry Scheck's contributions to the football star's acquittal with his discrediting of the DNA evidence. Facts referred to in the commentary do not always appear in the main text, and the choice of breadth over depth leaves readers feeling short-changed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765316134
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my favorite from F Lee Bailey. I was one of the people that actually watched the whole OJ Simpson trial and am as convinced of his innocence today as I ever have been.

I only wish more of this book was about that subject but a book came out recently, When Prosecutors Attack!: OJ Simpson, Roderick Scott, George Zimmerman - Baseless Government Attacks and the Media That Lets It Happen, that focuses much more on the OJ Simpson trial and the dirty tricks prosecutors like to pull.
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Format: Hardcover
I could give this book two stars just because I disagree with some of Bailey's conclusions; I hardly think anyone other than Bailey still believes O.J. Simpson is innocent!

But more importantly, I've read more than half of this book and am not sure I will be able to finish it, because it contains so much unbearably awful writing. Sentences that don't make sense, no matter how many times I re-read them, annoy me. In some places, a comma is used instead of a semicolon, creating a run-on sentence; in some places, a clause is repeated twice; in some places, Bailey will refer to "that person" (Marilyn Sheppard had sex with "that person") without first telling us to whom he is referring.

I find this book, like so much true crime, difficult to recommend.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is extremely biased. Apparently, Mr Bailey believes that every one of the subjects in this book is innocent and that they were framed. At least that was my impression before I got sick of reading about these "victims". I know defense lawywers are supposed to believe that the client is innocent but this book is just so much garbage.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In the jacket material of this book, we are proudly told that as a criminal defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey has a conviction rate of a mere four percent.

In this sense, Bailey's treatments of the cases he covers is much like hearing about the history of American politics from either an ardent Democrat or an ardent Republican. This phenomenon is particularly on display where Bailey talks about his time on the O.J. Simpson case. In a several page precis, Bailey for the defense attempts to convert us to why the verdict was, after all, not just gamesmanship and actually was a supposed innocent's victory.

It was one a few places where I found myself looking up from what I was reading and litterally taking it with a grain of salt.

That being said, Bailey has been part of that upper echelon of Uber Lawyers for defense, the type of guys imitated in plays like Chicago and partly feared and partly admired in the way Americans only seem to be capable of partly fearing and partly admiring those at the peak of morally ambiguous activities.

In this way, Bailey's insights on the great trials that have characterized husband murder and alleged husband murder are well worth the price of admission. This is particularly so with his treatment of the Sam Sheppard case where Bailey's activities themselves were the cause of Sheppard's freedom.

I think Bailey was also strong where he concentrated on other cases -- for want of a better phrase -- that you may have actually heard of or cared about. Good examples of this included the Robert Blake case (which resulted in an acquittal) and the Scott Petterson case (which resulted in conviction AND a sentence of death).

Being brief, this is not only an excellent "airport book" but observations from a master himself on one of the more unseemly and interesting niche areas of the law.
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Format: Hardcover
When I opened this book, I sighed with disappointment. I have read another book about each and every one of these cases! Several are the same as featured in Dominick Dunne's "Justice". However, F. Lee Bailey's commentary at the end of each case makes it all worthwhile. At first, I couldn't help but laugh at how blatantly conceited this man is but then I stopped and remembered he is the most famous and renowned defense attorney in the U.S....sorry GerEGO and J. Cochran...
I began to enjoy his take on these pathetic men who take down women they can't control through brutish violence. More power to men writing about savage losers who wind up caught and strung up to dry!
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