Richard Eberling, 68, the man accused by the son of Sam Sheppard of killing Sheppard's wife, the crime that inspired "The Fugitive," died July 25 in a prison hospital here. The cause of death was not reported.

At the time of his death, Mr. Eberling was in the Orient Correctional Institution for a 1984 murder.

He had an extended illness, but the cause of death had not been officially determined, a prison spokesman said.

The 1984 murder was unrelated to the famous Sheppard case, which began in 1954 when Marilyn Sheppard was found dead in the family home in the Bay Village suburb of Cleveland.

Sam Sheppard, a prominent Cleveland osteopath, was convicted of his wife's 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 nearly penniless 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.

Sheppard's son, Sam Reese Sheppard, said it was Mr. Eberling rather than his father who killed Marilyn Sheppard.

Mr. Eberling, who had a criminal record, had washed windows at the Sheppards' 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 own home. It's not my nature," Mr. Eberling said in a 1996 interview.

The case inspired the hit television series and the film, both called "The Fugitive."

The Sheppard case made headlines around the world again last year after DNA tests of blood and semen indicated that another man, in addition to Sheppard, had been at the murder scene. The tests also indicated that the second man and Mr. Eberling shared a key genetic marker but stopped short of declaring a match between the two.

Sam Reese Sheppard has sued the state, claiming that his father was wrongfully imprisoned for Marilyn Sheppard's death. The case is pending in the Ohio Supreme Court.