Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Interview of Gregg McCrary

The Murder Weapon

One item that did not get into court, but which McCrary included in his book, was a discussion of the elusive murder weapon.

Samuel Gerber
Samuel Gerber
Back in 1954, McCrary writes, Coroner Gerber had speculated that it was some sort of surgical instrument, although in all of his searches around the world, he had found no instrument that would make such a mark.  That got him crucified in the second trial.  To avoid that, this team had looked more deeply into the matter.  They wanted to see how the imprint that was found on the pillowcase had been created, so they took 48 down pillows with cotton covers and used various techniques.  Only one worked: A second bloody object had been touched against a primary bloodstain that had dried.  They used ten milliliters of blood to create the primary stain, much less than was actually on the crime scene pillow.  It took over two hours to dry.

Dean Boland
Dean Boland
When Dean Boland turned the imprint around to look at it from different angles he perceived the image of a lamp.  Dean pursued this idea and found that a man named Paul Gerhard had told police long ago that he had fixed and returned a lamp to the Sheppard bedroom, to the nightstand, thirty-six hours before the murder.  Gerhard described the lamp as heavy brass or metal, about seven inches long, with a circular base.  It was consistent with the concentric injuries to Marilyn's head.  A one-sentence note at the end of a police report identified a small lampshade found by itself on a bookcase in a room on the second floor.  No lamp was found in the murder room, yet Sam's notebook lay on the nightstand ready for late night calls, so how could he have taken notes without any light?  The conclusion should be obvious.

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