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Test Your Knowledge of this Case

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Test Yourself with 10 Key Questions about the Sheppard Murder Case 

1. Based on what you know right now, is Dr. Sam Sheppard:

  • - Innocent
  • - Guilty
  • - Don't know


2. Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard was found bludgeoned to death in the early morning hours of July 4, 1954. What was the murder weapon?

  • - A surgical instrument
  • - A flashlight
  • - A bedside lamp
  • - Unknown. The murder weapon was never found.


3. Which of the following front page headlines were published in The Cleveland Press between July 20 and July 30, 1954?

  • - "Somebody Is Getting Away With Murder"
  • - "Why No Inquest? Do It Now, Dr. Gerber"
  • - "Why Don't the Police Quiz No. 1 Suspect?"
  • - "Quit Stalling and Bring Him In!"
  • - "Why Isn't Sam Sheppard In Jail?"
  • - All of the above


4. What did the Coroner's investigators find under Mrs. Sheppard's fingernails, one of which was torn loose from fighting off her assailant?

  • - blue fibers
  • - red fibers
  • - all of the above


5. What was Sam wearing on the night of the murder?

  • - Blue trousers and a red sweater
  • - Light brown trousers, a white T-shirt and a tan corduroy jacket
  • - Blue jeans and a blue Oxford shirt


6. Blood spatter covered the walls and furniture of the murder room. When police arrived, Sam was wearing no shirt, and his trousers showed only one large spot of blood at the knee. How can this be explained?

  • - Sam changed clothing and disposed of his bloody trousers and T-shirt before police arrived.
  • - Sam destroyed his bloody T-shirt and washed every spot of blood off his trousers in Lake Erie before police arrived.
  • - The complete lack of blood spatter on Sam's trousers, shoes and belt means that Sam could not have murdered his wife. The one large spot of blood on Sam's trousers contained DNA that did not come from Sam or Marilyn Sheppard. It had to come from the killer.


7. According to Sam, he fell asleep on the daybed while watching a late movie on television with dinner guests in the living room. When he heard Marilyn scream, he said he ran upstairs. What happened next?

  • - He saw a one-armed man in the hallway and chased him out the back door.
  • - He grappled with a bushy- haired intruder and was knocked unconscious.
  • - He self-inflicted wounds and bruises on his face and neck to make it look as though he had battled with an intruder.


8. Police investigators found pieces of two of Mrs. Sheppard's front teeth on the bed when they removed her body. How can this be explained?

  • - Mrs. Sheppard bit her assailant hard, and the teeth were broken off and pulled out of her mouth as the killer pulled away
  • - The killer slashed the weapon against Mrs. Sheppard's mouth with enough force to break her teeth
  • - It can't be explained and, therefore, should be ignored.


9. In 1954 the defense was not allowed inside the Sheppard home to investigate the murder scene until after the trial. Paul Leland Kirk, the most respected criminalist in the United States, was hired by the family in 1955 to provide a forensic analysis. Kirk did this work only on condition of complete objectivity. What important evidence did Kirk find, and what were his conclusions?

  • - Based on the pattern of the blood spatter on the walls of the murder room, the killer was left handed.
  • - A large, uniquely shaped spot of blood on the closet door of the murder room didn't fit the pattern of blood deposited in throughout the room. It indicated that this blood spot was deposited in a different manner.
  • - DNA evidence showed that the unique blood spot on the closet door and the one blood spot on Sam's trousers belonged to neither Dr. Sheppard nor Mrs. Sheppard. A third person was in the murder room that night.
  • - All true, but DNA testing was not available in 1955. DNA analysis was not carried out until 1996.


10. Dr. Sam Sheppard and his family have always maintained that he was innocent and have tried to clear his name over the years. Which of the following is not true?

  • - The State of Ohio claimed that Sam Sheppard killed his wife with premeditation and asked the jury to sentence him to death.
  • - The State of Ohio gave Sam Sheppard a fair trail in December 1954, and the jury found him guilty of 2nd degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
  • - In 1964 a Federal District Court judge threw out Sam Sheppard's conviction on constitutional grounds, calling his 1954 trial "a mockery of justice."
  • - In June 1966 Supreme Court justices (8 to 1 vote) reversed Sam Sheppard's murder conviction on due process grounds. They referred to "virulent publicity" as a factor of influence over the first jury's verdict.
  • - The State of Ohio tried Sam Sheppard for Marilyn Sheppard's murder a second time in October and November 1966. This time the jury found Dr. Sam Sheppard "not guilty."


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