It's been 45 years
since Marilyn Sheppard was murdered in her bed and her husband reported
chasing a bushy-haired man out of his lakeside home outside Cleveland.
Now the case that inspired the movie and TV series "The Fugitive" is headed back to court, and the defendants in the new case are preparing to exhume Mrs. Sheppard's remains.
That is something her son expects will be so traumatic that he will need the solitude of the open road.
Sam Reese Sheppard said he will leave Saturday on a walk from the United States
Supreme Court -- which ordered the 2nd trial that freed Dr. Sam Sheppard -- to the
murder site at Bay Village, Ohio.
Speaking by phone from Oakland, Calif., Sheppard said walking 20 miles a day will be
his way of preparing for what he expects will be a difficult experience.
"The walking is for the good of my soul," he said. "I will walk and meditate and hope for peace and reconciliation."
Along the way, Sheppard intends to stop at a prison in Pennsylvania to visit James
A. Dennis, a death row inmate who he believes was condemned for a murder he
did not commit.
Sheppard, 52, scheduled his walk and rallies in Washington, Cleveland and Waynesburg,
Pa., to coincide with the expected start of a civil trial in his wrongful imprisonment lawsuit
against the state of Ohio. The walk also coincides with the broadcast of a program about
the case on public television's "Nova."
The new trial has been delayed until January to allow the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, which is handling the defense, time to gather DNA samples. Prosecutor William Mason
said he expects to exhume Mrs. Sheppard's remains in early October.
Sheppard has taken to the road before to protest the death penalty, walking across Ohio
in 1997 and from Boston to New Orleans in 1995.
Dr. Sam Sheppard spent a decade in prison after being convicted of beating his wife to death in July 1954. That verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court, and a retrial in
1966 acquitted him.
The younger Sheppard contends that his mother was killed by a man who washed the family's windows and later died while serving time for another murder.
To win the wrongful imprisonment suit, the son's lawyers must convince a jury that the majority of evidence indicates the doctor was innocent. If Sheppard wins, damages could reach as much as $2 million.
Sheppard was 7 years old when his mother was killed and was not taken to her funeral.
In addition to spotlighting his oppsition to the death penalty, he said one of his goals was to draw attention to the need to understand and help those affected by violence.
"Murder victims' family members are never completely healed," he said.
"There's never complete closure. There's always another anniversary date."
|Visit the CUADP page for more info on Sam's walk|
|Return to Jimmy Dennis' CCADP Homepage|