No couple could have been more all-American than Ed and Ellen Sherman. Married in the quaint town of Niantic, Connecticut, the pair ran a successful real estate magazine and Ed also taught part-time at a community college. They raised their only child, Jessica, in a happy environment with a house full of friends and laughter. Ellen was bubbly and vivacious, and she loved Ed with all her heart.
But behind closed doors, this couple led a very unconventional life. They were secretly involved in swinging, wife-swapping, and multiple sexual liaisons. While Ed initiated the behavior, Ellen condoned it, going along with Ed as he encouraged her to sleep with other men.
As time passed, Ed went from having many flings to having a serious mistress, Nancy Prescott, with whom he eventually had a child. Ed found himself caught between two families, living a double life in towns just twenty minutes apart. Oddly, in that neighboring town, people would mistake Nancy for Ed’s wife, and over time, the situation got tense.
In 1985, after Ellen gave him an ultimatum, Ed made the decision to keep his marriage intact. He left Nancy and entered a second honeymoon phase with his wife. Ellen became pregnant, she was ecstatic, and the Shermans’ marriage took a turn for the better. The future looked bright.
On August 2, 1985, after Ed left town for his annual sailing trip with his buddies, he got a strange feeling about Ellen. Worried about her being home alone, Ed called home to check on his wife, who was five and half months pregnant. But there was no answer. After getting more desperate as each hour passed, Ed used the ship-to-shore radio on the boat, but he failed to reach his wife.
After three days at sea, Ed and his sailing buddies panicked. Ed finally got an answer at his home, but it was not Ellen. It was a man’s voice, a detective, telling Ed that his wife had been murdered, found naked and strangled on the couple’s bed. The Medical Examiner in Connecticut estimated Ellen’s time of death was sometime between Friday night at 10PM and Sunday at 4AM, while Ed was on his sailing trip.
The person who found Ellen was her “friend,” Len Fredrickson, who swore there was never anything romantic between them, although Ed felt certain that was a lie. As the case was investigated, detectives surmised that Ellen Sherman had possibly been strangled with her bra during a sex act gone bad.
Things got more complicated when the CSI team discovered more than 50 semen stains on the Shermans’ bed. Lead detective, Michael Malchik, went to work interviewing a host of potential suspects, but despite all his dogged efforts, two years passed without anyone bringing justice to Ellen Sherman. The case went cold.
Enter Dr. Henry Lee, famed for his work in the O.J. Simpson trial, to take a new look at the evidence and reconstruct the crime scene. Dr. Lee affirmed that the 50 semen stains on the bed were not identifiable through DNA, but through meticulous forensic work, Henry Lee was able to shed new light on a key element that had gone unnoticed in this case.
As Dr. Henry Lee continued his investigation, Detective Malchik got his next big break when a new witness came forward to point a finger at one particular individual. Combined with Henry Lee’s findings, it was all Malchik needed to make an arrest. In 1990, after five long years of unanswered questions and dead-end leads, the detective finally had enough evidence to take the case to trial…but the case wasn’t a slam dunk.
Can Connecticut law enforcement outsmart Ellen’s murderer? Watch the season premiere of “True Crime with Aphrodite Jones” tonight at 9/8c to find out.