Matthew Shepard

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Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because he was homosexual. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.[1]



Shepard was born in Casper, Wyoming, the older of two sons born to Judy (née Peck) and Dennis Shepard. He attended Crest Hill Elementary School, Dean Morgan Junior High School, and Natrona County High School for his freshman through junior years. Saudi Aramco hired his father in the summer of 1994, and his parents subsequently resided at the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp in Dhahran. During that time, Shepard attended The American School in Switzerland (TASIS),[2] from which he graduated in May 1995. Shepard then attended Catawba College in North Carolina and Casper College in Wyoming, before settling in Denver. Shepard became a first-year political science major at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council.[1]

He was described by his father as "an optimistic and accepting young man who had a special gift of relating to almost everyone. He was the type of person who was very approachable and always looked to new challenges. Matthew had a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people's differences."[1]

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