Monday, July 7, 2014

July 1954 Sam Sheppard Murder Case Headlines

The  former Sheppard home on Lake Road in Bay Village
(now demolished)
Over the weekend an unhappy anniversary came and went quietly, with some subdued coverage on the Cleveland TV newscasts but with no acknowledgement (that I'm aware of, anyway) by the two Lorain County newspapers.

On July 4, 1954 – 60 years ago this past week – Marilyn Sheppard was found brutally beaten to death in her Bay Village home. Her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, had been asleep downstairs at the time of the murder according to his story. The rest of his version of the aftermath of the murder – including his being knocked unconscious by a "bushy-haired intruder" – are well known to Northeast Ohioans, as well as much of the nation.

The sensationalized coverage of the crime by the Cleveland Press and that newspaper's call for the arrest and conviction of Dr. Sheppard is well-remembered. The aggressive coverage by the Press was part of the reason that Sheppard was granted a retrial in 1966, after he spent ten years in prison for his initial conviction of the murder. He was acquitted after the second trial.

Despite the media fatigue that greeted the anniversary of the murder, many people in the area will probably always have a fascination with the tragedy, since it took place nearby.

To refresh your memory, here are links to two interesting articles that appeared in the Plain Dealer recently about the 1954 murder. The first one is written by Brent Larkin, and the second is by the very first policeman to arrive at the scene of the gruesome murder.

And how did the murder play out in the Lorain Journal in the week after it occurred?

The Sheppard murder grabbed the headlines for the first few days. Here are the front pages of the newspaper for July 5th, 6th and 7th.

Here's the front page for July 8th (below). I was able to replace the two low quality microfilm images with the same two exact photographs, which I found online.
Here's the front page for July 9th. As you can see, it was the night of the Miss Vacationland contest (which I wrote about last week here). 
The crowning of Darlene Ehrlich as the winner of the Miss Vacationland contest finally nudged the Sheppard murder case out of the top spot on the front page of July 10th.


Anonymous said...

A few things in the newspapers were of interest to me. July 6th paper "Restaurant and Motel approved' see

and July 7 "Job given to Fireman" and Annexation supports,aim to get the facts" The EHRLIC family had their 15 min oh fame.


Anonymous said...

opps I should have also posted the Sat July 10 newspaper with the Queen. -The Queen, the fireman, and the supporter.- Bill again

Dan Brady said...

Hi Bill,
Yes, there is some interesting stuff on those front pages besides the headlines. So much news content back then--it's incredible. Nowadays the MJ has a screaming 72 pt headline "NEW BOOKMOBILE FOR AVON" or something of little interest to Lorainites, plus maybe 2 other articles on the front page along with a HUGE photo to take up space. But back in the 1950s, there might have been 15 different news items! Some were small, but at least you knew what was going on!

-Alan D Hopewell said...

I've always believed that Dr. Sheppard was tried in the media, unjustly.

Anonymous said...

I do remember the gruesome stories when I was about 10, of the Dr. who killed his wife and being shown the house where it happened, as we drove by. Gave me a chill. The first time I was introduced to murder, that close to home.
I guess because of the year, back then, they didn't test the dog or son for drugs in their systems. (if they were tested, I didn't find in my readings).
I was reading the whole account of the murder case that spanned a half of a century and one of things that was peculiar to me, and thousands of other people, is the son never woke up and the dog never barked. They had to be drugged at the time of the murder.
If you own a dog you know that dogs have very distinctive barks for different situations. I know all my dogs over the years barked different pitches or whines according to situations such as: strangers, protective, need water, need to go out etc...