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The Coroner's Story: Autopsy Reveals Details About Matthew Shepard's Hate Crime

Matthew Shepard Foundation

After Matthew Shepard's murder, his autopsy was filed away and never released to the public. Julie Heggie was the coroner at the time and said, she decided, along with law enforcement and the county attorney's office, that was the best thing to protect the report from mass distribution.

"The law enforcement at the time, as well as myself and the county attorney, had conversations and decided that any release of the autopsy report should be released by only one entity."

And that was the county attorney's office. Wyoming Public Radio recently made a Freedom of Information Act request to see the autopsy after all these years. Until now, Heggie has never talked publicly about her experience of conducting Shepard's autopsy. She says some details in the report make it clear to her this was a hate crime.

A warning: this conversation may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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