matthew Shepard

Craig Hella Johnson
James Goulden

Considering Matthew Shepard is a three-part oratorio responding to Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder. Released in 2016, the piece moves through the events of Shepard's life and death using a chorus and a chamber ensemble. It was written by composer Craig Hella Johnson. During the 20th anniversary of Shepard's death, Johnson has toured the work around the country and will perform it in Laramie October 6, the day Shepard was robbed and beaten. Reporter Cooper McKim speaks with Johnson about the work and the role of art around Shepard's death.

Matthew Shepard Foundation

20 years ago this weekend, Matthew Shepard encountered Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at the Fireside bar in Laramie. McKinney told police that he noticed that Shepard had money and decided to rob him. He admitted that he thought Shepard would be an easy target because he was small in stature and appeared to be gay. 

Albany County Sheriff David O'Malley

From the time they learned about the Shepard attack, it was a busy time for Laramie law enforcement and the legal community as they dealt with the two people accused of murdering Matthew Shepard. The case had intense media scrutiny and international interest that overwhelmed residents of Laramie. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck caught up with three people who were very closely involved in the case. A police investigator, a judge and a defense attorney who discuss their memories and what they think happened.


Julie Heggie

Matthew Shepard's murder was a shock to everyone in the city of Laramie…but especially to gay and lesbian couples living there. One couple was especially close to the crime. Julie Heggie was the county coroner and attended Matthew Shepard’s autopsy. Her partner at the time was Gayle Woodsum, a victim's advocate. Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with them to remember when Heggie got a strange phone call at three in the morning. She says it was the only time in her long career that she ever got a call concerning someone who hadn't died yet.

MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc.

In a theatre class at Laramie High School, a dozen upperclassmen sit around a table on the stage. The class is studying and performing The Laramie Project, a play about the community's response to the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

Photo by Benson Kua via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

In order to convince tech companies to set up shop in Wyoming, some believe there needs to be a statewide anti-discrimination law on the books. That would change state law to provide protections to LGBTQ people that others already have. Supporters say such a law will resolve a perception problem the state has had since the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Tennessee Watson

There are two communities in Wyoming with anti-discrimination ordinances: Jackson and Laramie. Outside city limits and across the rest of the state, LGBTQ individuals who face discrimination aren't protected by the law. But that didn't stop Kassi Willingham from moving back to her hometown of Rock Springs after a few years in Colorado.

Kamila Kudelska

Matthew Shepard's murder occurred far from Cody, but the Wyoming town still felt the effect of the tragedy. While many know about it, the event hasn't markedly changed the culture in that part of the state. A lack of a support system for the LGBTQ community is energizing some to move forward to create a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club.

James Goulden

The three-part oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard moves through the life and death of Shepard and the resulting trial alternating in genre and perspective throughout. The large-scale composition written for an orchestra and chorus was written by Craig Hella Johnson. The piece touches on western themes, religious ones, as well as focusing on Shepard's humanity.

Feb 2018 Conspirare Performance -- Craig Hella Johnson, composer of Considering Matthew Shepard
Marlee Crawford / University of Mississippi

It's been twenty years since the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. One legacy of his hate-motivated death is the wide collection of artistic responses.

Gobonobo / wikipedia

Next week is the 20 year anniversary of the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, an event that sparked national media coverage and fierce controversy. One of the people who covered the case from the start was Wyoming Public Radio news director Bob Beck. He joined Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard to discuss his memories, how the event impacted people and Wyoming, and what LGBTQ issues still remain.

Gobonobo / wikipedia

The University of Wyoming and the city of Laramie plan a series of events this fall to remember the 20-year anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard. Shepard was an openly gay student who was kidnapped, tied to a fence and pistol-whipped to death. He has become a national symbol for the LGBTQ community. 

Dennis and Judy Shepard
Bob Beck

20 years ago this fall, an openly gay University of Wyoming student was robbed, tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and left for dead on the outskirts of Laramie. He died a few days later. The murder of Matthew Shepard was called a hate crime by local law enforcement officers and it lead to worldwide attention on the topic of LGBTQ rights. His parents Dennis and Judy Shepard remain residents of Wyoming and have dedicated themselves to fight discrimination in the name of their son. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck talked to them about a number of topics including what it was like to return to Laramie.

Jewlicious

At the Matthew Shepard Symposium hosted last week at the University of Wyoming, protesters gathered outside with signs denouncing the LGBTQ community. The group was from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, and nearly 20 years ago, they also picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral.

But inside the symposium, a former Westboro Church member was preparing to speak. Megan Phelps-Roper was there to explain that when she started engaging in civil dialogue over Twitter, her entire worldview changed.

The University of Wyoming’s annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice began Wednesday night. The four-day event was named for Matthew Shepard and the activism of his surviving family members. It features panels and presentations focusing on race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, and social justice issues.

The Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard foundation is delighted that the Supreme Court appears to have opened the door for gay marriage across the country. Jason Marsden notes that 16 years ago tonight/Monday, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tied up, and beaten to within an inch of his life. He died a few days later. 

Marsden believes Shepard's murder helped ignite a new discussion on gay rights that's ultimately led to growing support for same sex marriages.

The common story behind the murder of Matthew Shepard is that he was targeted in Laramie’s fireside bar because he was gay and was the victim of a robbery.  Law enforcement authorities say that Shepard was driven to the edge of Laramie and tied to a fence by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. 

He was then pistol whipped and left for dead.  But for years some say there was more to the crime then that and author Steve Jimenez has explored those rumors.  His book called “The Book of Matt.  Hidden Truths about the murder of Matthew Shepard” paints a different narrative.

The author of a book on Mathew Shepard says his death was related to drugs and not his sexual orientation.  Stephen Jimenez writes that Shepard was involved in the Methamphetamine trade and that his horrific murder was the result of a drug deal gone wrong.

He says Shepard's main killer had been using meth which fueled the attack, an assertion that law enforcement authorities say is not true.