Veteran ABC television network reporter Gary Shepard was reported in serious condition at Santa Monica Medical Center on Tuesday night after sheriff's deputies found him stabbed and severely beaten at his isolated home in the Malibu hills.
Deputies said Shepard, 53, was unable to tell them what had happened, but investigators said it appeared that he had been savagely attacked during a bungled robbery. His injuries were said to include a skull fracture, multiple stab wounds and severe bruises.
Katherine O'Hearn, the network's bureau chief in Los Angeles, said Shepard had been expected to arrive for work at the ABC offices in Hollywood about 11 a.m. Tuesday.
"He is always very prompt, always keeps in touch," she said. "When he failed to show up, we became concerned and called his house. The line was busy . . . and when we got an operator to interrupt the line, there was no conversation on it."
Remembering a business associate who lives near Shepard, O'Hearn called him. The man went to Shepard's house, found him and summoned sheriff's deputies.
O'Hearn said she visited Shepard in the hospital several hours later.
"He doesn't remember what happened," she said. "He's been beaten up pretty bad, but the prognosis is good."
O'Hearn said Shepard lives alone on Castlewood Drive, about two miles above La Costa Beach.
Among the assignments he has covered during his long career are the wars in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.
"It's ironic," O'Hearn said. "He comes through both of those all right, and then something like this happens."