Matthew Wayne Shepard was a gay American student at the University of Wyoming. He was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. Suspects Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were arrested shortly after the attack and charged with first-degree murder following Shepard’s death. Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at both the state and federal level.
About Matthew Shepard in brief
Matthew Wayne Shepard was a gay American student at the University of Wyoming. He was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. Suspects Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were arrested shortly after the attack and charged with first-degree murder following Shepard’s death. Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at both the state and federal level. In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law on October 28, 2009. Following her son’s murder, Judy Shepard became a prominent LGBT rights activist and established theMatthew Shepard Foundation. She died from severe head injuries six days later in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he was taken by rescuers to Poudre Valley Hospital. She was the first of two sons born to Judy and Dennis Shepard. His younger brother, Logan, was born in 1981. The two brothers had a close relationship. Shepard attended Crest Hill Elementary School, Dean Morgan Junior High School, and Natrona County High School for his freshman through junior years. In 1995, Shepard was beaten and raped during a high school trip to Morocco. This caused him to experience depression and panic attacks, according to his mother. One of Shepard’s friends feared that his depression had driven him to become involved with drugs during his time at college. As a child, he was targeted for teasing due to his small stature and lack of athleticism.
He then attended Catawba College in North Carolina and Casper College in Wyoming, before settling in Denver, Colorado. In May 1995, he attended the American School in Switzerland, from which he graduated in May 1995. There, he participated in theater, and took German and Italian courses. He became a first-year political science major at the university with a minor in languages, and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council. He had a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people’s differences. He also had a special gift of relating to almost everyone, his father described him as \”a tenderhearted and kind person.\”, according to Michele Josue, who had been Shepard’s friend and later created a documentary about him, Matt Shepard is A Friend of Mine. He died on October 20, 1998, at the age of 22. He is survived by his mother, his brother, and his sister. He leaves behind a wife and two children. He has a brother and sister-in-law, who live in Colorado and a sister in New York City, New York, New Jersey, and a brother who lives in Texas. He will be buried in a private ceremony on October 30, 2009, in a ceremony attended by his family and friends. His father, Dennis Shepard, is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and served as the chairman of the Wyoming Senate from 1995 to 1998. He and his brother Logan are currently serving two consecutive life sentences.