Richard Eberling; Accused in ‘Fugitive’ Case
Richard Eberling, accused by the son of Dr. Sam Sheppard of killing Sheppard’s wife, the crime that helped inspire “The Fugitive,” died Saturday. He was 68.
Eberling, serving time for an unrelated killing, died in a prison hospital ward, said Joe Andrews, a spokesman for the state prisons system.
Sheppard’s son, Sam Reese Sheppard, said it was Eberling rather than his father who killed Marilyn Sheppard in 1954 at their home in the Cleveland suburb of Bay Village.
Eberling, who had a long criminal record, had washed windows at the Sheppard house. He repeatedly denied any involvement in Marilyn Sheppard’s death.
“They have nobody else to go for except me. Heavens no, I didn’t do it. I don’t even kill wasps in my home. It’s not my nature,” Eberling said in a 1996 interview.
Sheppard was convicted of murder and spent 10 years in prison, until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction. He was acquitted at a retrial in 1966.
Sheppard, who died of liver disease at age 46 in 1970, always insisted that a bushy-haired intruder killed his pregnant wife and knocked him unconscious after a struggle.
The case helped inspired the ‘60s television series and 1993 movie “The Fugitive.”
Eberling was serving time in the Orient Correctional Institution for a 1984 murder. He had been battling an extended illness but the cause of death had not been officially determined, Andrews said.