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5 People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes

Gerry Conlon

Gerry Conlon is one of the most famous wrongfully-convicted men in the world, having been part of the Guilford Four and Maguire Seven who were falsely imprisoned for an Irish Republican Army bombing in England in 1974.
At the time, Conlon was twenty years old. He was arrested in connection with the bombing of a pub in the town of Guilford, which had killed five people—arrested in spite of the fact that he had never even been to that town. He and three other people, who would collectively become known as the Guilford Four, endured days of torture at the hands of the police before finally confessing to crimes they knew they had not commited.
Along with Conlon, his father Giuseppe and six others, who became known as the Maguire Seven, were arrested and imprisoned when shoddy evidence pointed to them seemingly having handled the explosives. Ultimately, the Guilford Four and Maguire Seven were exonerated once new evidence came to light that the police had fabricated evidence and coerced the confessions. The story of Gerry Conlon was later turned into the movie In the Name of the Father.
Dr. Sam Sheppard

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: a successful doctor is accused of and convicted for the murder of his wife—despite the doctor repeatedly proclaiming his innocence and telling police about a struggle with a man in his house on the night of the murder. He is later cleared of the murder. If you’re thinking it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the plot of the TV show and movie The Fugitive. It’s also exactly what happened to Dr. Sam Sheppard, the man who served as the inspiration for the fictional character of Richard Kimble.
Sheppard was convicted in 1954, despite evidence backing up his story that he didn’t actually do it. According to reports, the investigating police completely overlooked some pretty obvious signs of sexual assault, primarily because they believed Sheppard was the killer—and signs of rape did not really fit with that theory.
Blood was also found in the home which did not match that of Sheppard, his wife, or their kids. Sheppard was eventually exonerated in 1966, but the case had taken an enormous toll on him and he died four years later of liver disease, almost completely ruined both financially and emotionally.

Alfred Dreyfus

For this one, we are going to hop into the time machine and go way back to 1894 to one of the most famous miscarriages of justice in history. Chances are, you have at least heard of the Dreyfus Affair in passing—but there’s also probably an equal chance that you thought it was about the escapades of that guy who played Hooper in Jaws.
Instead, the Affair has to do with Alfred Dreyfus, a French soldier convicted of treason, who as punishment was sent to the infamous Devil’s Island penal colony.
The case is one steeped in anti-Semitism. Dreyfus, a captain, had been accused of giving information to the Germans—but two years later it was discovered that another French soldier named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy had in fact been the real traitor. But with Dreyfus—an Alsatian Jew—already in prison, some of the higher-ups in the military managed to keep the new evidence quiet until 1899, when he was brought back to France for a new trial. Still, it was not until 1906 that he was finally exonerated, and by then much of France had been divided by the scandal surrounding the entire affair.
The Mickelberg Brothers

In June 1982, forty-nine gold bars were stolen from the Perth Mint in Western Australia, at an estimated worth of more than two million dollars in today’s money. Police quickly suspected three brothers—Ray, Peter, and Brian Mickelberg—of the crime, and they were quickly found guilty and sentenced to a long period in prison. As you can probably guess, they didn’t do it.
The Perth Mint Swindle, at it is commonly known, remains unsolved to this day—but the Mickelbergs weren’t cleared of all charges until 2004. The brothers have repeatedly stated that police framed them from the start. Brian was released after less than two years but died in a plane crash soon afterwards, while Ray and Peter served eight and six years in jail, respectively. In 2002, a police officer who had working on the case admitted to having fabricated evidence, and also beating Brian while he was in custody.

Dewey Bozella

In 1977, Dewey Bozella was an eighteen-year-old kid from a rough neighborhood who inexplicably found himself the prime suspect in the murder of a ninety-two year old woman. Despite the fact that there was not a shred of evidence tying him to the murder, and that the two key witnesses were known criminals who had changed their stories, Bozella was sentenced to a minimum of twenty years in Sing Sing, one of the most notorious prisons in America.
Bozella was retried in 1990 and offered the chance to go free—if only he would admit to his guilt and remorse. While some may have jumped at the chance for freedom, Bozella refused to admit to something he did not do, and was re-convicted. The Innocence Project caught wind of his case and tracked down some evidence which eventually resulted in Bozella being set free in 2009.

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