Saturday, 2:15 PM
Cross-dressing doctor who killed wife found hanged
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Dr. Richard Sharpe, the cross-dressing Gloucester dermatologist serving life in prison for killing his estranged wife, was found dead Monday night in his cell at the state prison in Norfolk, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Correction.
Dr. Richard Sharpe
A cellmate discovered Sharpe's body hanging by a bed sheet in their cell at 7:26 p.m., said spokeswoman Diane Wiffin.
"An emergency medical response was initiated," Wiffin said. "He was transported to Norwood Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:11 p.m."
The department's emergency response procedures were followed, Wiffin said. State Police attached to the Norfolk district attorney’s office are investigating Sharpe’s death as a matter of protocol, according to spokesman David Traub.
The state medical examiner is expected to perform an autopsy today to determine a cause and manner of death. More information is expected to be released today, Traub said in a statement.
Sharpe was sentenced in 2001 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for shooting to death his estranged wife, Karen, at her Wenham home on July 14, 2000. Authorities said the motive was to keep her away from his $5 million in assets. The case drew national media attention when photographs of Sharpe wearing slinky dresses and fishnet stockings were widely published after his arrest.
Sharpe was later accused of hiring a hitman from behind bars to kill Robert Weiner, the former Essex first assistant district attorney who sent him to prison. A Norfolk Superior Court jury acquitted Sharpe of those charges in 2007.
Atwood & Cherry, the law firm that represented Karen Sharpe when she was killed, issued a statement calling today a "sad ending to a tragic trail of deceit, betrayal, and murder."
"Our thoughts today are with the children and family of Karen Sharpe," the statement said. "… hopefully Richard Sharpe's death brings some closure to this nightmare for the three Sharpe children."