Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 17, 1997 · Page 15
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 15

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Wednesday, September 17, 1997
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Page 15
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A-16 IIAT10FIAL rf yf w " T 11 Bevonc . the grave Of Pre Season Gas Logs a Fireplace saie TRI -STATES LARGEST SELECTION Scientists to test Sheppard's DNA to solve 43 - year - old murder VENTED GAS IOCS UNVENTED CAS IOCS IN STOCK GLASS DOORS '40,000 BTU CAS FIREPUCIS I OPEN ONLY hens lite ... it. .1 By Milan Simonich Post-Gazette Staff Writer Forensic scientists will reach into the grave of Dr. Sam Sheppard today to try to solve one of the country's most infamous murder cases. Sheppard's body will be exhumed from a cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Later, at the Cleveland morgue, Sheppard's DNA will be obtained from bone and compared with blood evidence from the 1954 murder of his wife, Marilyn. The Sheppards' son, Sam Reese Sheppard, said he hoped this genetic fingerprinting would help prove that an intruder committed the murder. "I'm trying to find out who Med my mother. It's still an open case," said Reese Sheppard, who was 7 years old when she died. He's 50 now. Sheppard, whose case inspired "The Fugitive" television series and movie, always maintained that his wife was beaten to death by a bushy-haired intruder who broke into their home in suburban Cleveland July 4, 1954. Police, prosecutors and the press decided almost from the beginning that Sheppard was lying. They believed he killed his wife, then inflicted minor injuries on himself to buttress his story of an intruder. A jury convicted Sheppard in December 1954 and he was sentenced to life in prison. He was freed 10 years later by a federal judge who found that newspaper coverage had inflamed the city against him. Sheppard was retried in 1966 and acquitted. Though finally free, he couldn't regain his reputation or his career as an osteopathic surgeon. After growing dependent on alcohol and pills, he died of Wernicke disease in 1970 at age 46. Brought on by acute nutritionaldeficiency, the disease has been linked to alcohol abuse. Since Sheppard's death, his son has continued to investigate a case that police had all but dropped He's been assisted by lawyers, private detectives and a national DNA expert, Dr. Mohammad Tahir. Because of evidence they've gathered, Reese Sheppard believes that his mother was murdered by Richard Eberling, the family's window washer, in 1954. Eberling is serving life in prison for the 1984 murder of a 90-year-old widow. , j , ... Reese Sheppard has made his claims about Eberling through a civil lawsuit that accuses the state of Ohio of wrongfully imprisoning his father. If he wins, he could receive $25,000 for each of the 10 years his father spent in prison and millions more in damages. Carmen Marino, the Cleveland prosecutor who's handling the Sheppard case, is fighting to have the civil suit dismissed, saying the son should not be able to collect damages on behalf of a dead man. Marino said Reese Sheppard's case could open the door to hundreds of claims by heirs of dead convicts. The prosecutor, though, believes that Sheppard never should have been convicted. "I don't think he killed his wife, but that doesn't mean the son should receive conscience money," Marino said. "Society has the right to be wrong What happened is an outrage, but at this stage, we just have to say it's too bad." Marino has come to believe Sheppard was wrongly convicted because DNA tests already have demonstrated that the prosecution's case was flawed. Key to the case against Sheppard was a claim that he left a trail of his wife's blood throughout the house. The district attorney in 1954 contended that Sheppard beat Marilyn to death in their second-floor bedroom, then went down the stairs with a metal weapon that dripped mortgage, credit cards and loans, call us! Verona 15147 Installed Remodeling Wide Ranee Of 1 TUES. -SAT. ONE LOCATION Baths 25 OFF All Cabinets PAYMENTS Until FEBRUARY 1998 With Sears Deferred Credit r r ? v , .r, NATIONAL BRIEFS I louse rejects national tests mi a QHTMHTDN An alii- . . ance of conservatives and liber- - olc in the Hnnse voted PU 111 Uiv i.v -f yesterday to block President '! ;. ; . Clinton s top eaucauonai pi iui i- tv voluntary national tests in reading and math. ' The 295-1Z5 vote occurrea on an amendment to an $80 billion spending bill tor the Education, - -Labor and Health and Human ; Services departments. v. Ine senaie lasi weeii pascu . . nf the snendine bill for the 1998 budget year start- ing UCl. 1. DC1UIC UUlIlg ou, iv overwhelmingly approved an . , amenameni mai wouiu iei um- .v ,. ton go forward with the plan to . of fer reading tests to fourth- ..? graders and math tests to eighth-graders starting in Marcn lays ana wouia pui an .; independent, bipartisan board in cnarge ot me tests. Clinton, who had made the tests his ton educational Dlioritv during his State of the Union address earlier tnis year, saia . . the House vote was "unaccept- : ' able, and it will not stand." ., ; ;? Goldwater disease PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. Doctors have diagnosed former Sen. Barry Goldwater as being in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, his family confirmed yesterday. But aside from some short-term memory loss and occasional bouts of confusion, the 88-year-old con- , servative icon remains as or-; nery as ever, his son said. "He $ looks you straight in the eye. ' His handshake is just as firm as it's always been," Barry Gold-water Jr. said at a news conference. NYC mayor election NEW YORK Election workers began counting more than 14,600 ballots yesterday to determine whether activist Al Sharpton will face Ruth Mes-singer in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for mayor. Sharpton and Messinger, the Manhattan borough president, had already spent close to a week campaigning for the runoff when results of an automatic recount on Monday pushed her close to the number she needed for an outright victory in the nnmom The mitpome now Ll 1111CI1J . 111 UUWVIMV Mw. hinges on the count of paper absentee and affidavit ballots. The new tally will be ready today but will not be certified until tomorrow. her blood. But DNA testing by Tahir proved in February that the blood was not Marilyn Sheppard's. In the language of DNA science, Tahir also found that Eberling "cannot be excluded" as the source of the blood. Reese Sheppard's investigators believe Marilyn bit Eberl-mg's hand as he attacked her, opening up a deep cut that accounted for the blood trail. Prosecutors never contended that the blood trail came from Sam Sheppard, who had only small cuts in his mouth. But after Tabor's finding, Clevelanders who believed Sheppard was guilty said his DNA should be checked. To answer them, Reese Shep- Eard will spend about $5,000 to have is fathers body exhumed. Tahir, under the watch of the coroner's staff, then will do the DNA testing. If the tests confirm that Sheppard was not the source of the blood, that would mean somebody else was in the home when Marilyn was murdered. Tahir also will investigate blood evidence that was found this summer. It was from a smear on a closet door in the Sheppards' bedroom. The sample was in the files of the late Paul Kirk, a University of California criminologist who investigated the murder in 1955 on behaif of Sheppard. Kirk, using crude blood typing, said the smear was left by the injured killer. But no DNA science existed 42 years ago, so his claim could not be checked. Now Tahir will be able to test that blood to see if it matches the DNA nf Sam Shennard or Eberling. Be cause of the civil lawsuit, Eberling was required by a judge to supply a hlnnd samnle. "I hope this will be enough to get to the down-and-out truin,' said Reese Sheppard, a dental hygienist who lives in Oakland, Calif. Marino said he lacked evidence to investigate Eberling, 67, for Mari- lim Chonnarrt's murder. Hp was skeptical that the newfound blood evidence would be useful. "We have what we call chain of evidence. We don't know where this blood sample has been all these years." Rut Marino, like SheDDard's de fenders, said he was suspicious of Eberling. "He's a homosexual who didn't spend time with many women," Marinn said. "Yet three of the wom en we know he was around were murdered." One was the sister of the woman Fheriine was convicted of killing. she was heaten to death in her bed. as was Marilyn Sheppard. Nobody was ever charged in mat case. Aftpr the DNA testing. Shen- nard's remains will be cremated. His ashes will he buried tomorrow with Marilyn's body in Cleveland's Knollwood Cemetery. "They'll be together again," Reese Sheppard said. 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ISTHilSASH SS This is Matps4 I I VCRTpv I we roliavin odce in aWfethne efe 1 jtsn Furrltur eVComputer A Everything is fggg and NGUder Roclfers xjjjfffl)Ure 1 1 Do nonis this ale I XoomsC itondfattir Kamps J I Bombs still missing EAGLE, Colo. -The Air Force yesterday called a halt to its unsuccessful search for four 500-pound bombs carried by an A-10 attack plane whose pilot inexplicably broke away from an Arizona training mission last spring, flew across Colorado and then crashed into a 13,365-foot mountain face. "In 72 days of searching with multiple technologies we have not found conclusive evidence" of any bombs on the steep slopes of Gold Dust Peak, said Brig. Gen. Donald A. Streater, who commanded the , recovery effort. Even though experts failed to find the MK-82 bombs lost on the day the plane commanded by Air Force Capt. Craig Button slammed into the mountain, killing him, Streater said the recovery operation was a success and that the site high in the Rockies is now safe. . Air crash evidence WASHINGTON -A U.S. space satellite detected a bright flash Saturday off the Atlantic coast of Africa, where U.S. and German military planes apparently collided in flight, the Defense Department said . yesterday. "These are the types of flashes you might get if a plane explodes," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said, adding that close proximity of wreckage of the two planes found off Namibia's Atlantic coast was additional "circumstantial evidence" of a collision between the planes, which were carrying 33 people. Air Force jets collide POMONA, N.J.-Two Air Force fighter jets collided last night off the coast of New Jersey, and the pilot of one F-16 managed to land safely while the Coast Guard rescued the two pilots of the other plane from the ocean, officials said. The collision was the fifth military air accident since Saturday. "f For national news '!' L4 updates call PG Link at , lWSbl44 -1 1 tL;CF'eele,8 Furniture g 1 J rpS5!MMCr J CSp Microwaves . 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