He had a younger brother named Logan and him and Matthew were very close
Michele Josue, who had been Shepard’s friend and later created a documentary about him, Matt Shepard is A Friend of Mine, described him as “a tenderhearted and kind person
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. Shepard was hospitalized multiple times due to his clinical depression and suicidal ideation.
On the night of October 6, 1998, Shepard was approached by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie; all three men were in their early 20s.
Aaron and Russell decided to give Matthew a ride home they said but instead, they drove to a remote location and pistol-whipped him and claimed they were trying to rob him. They began to torture him by cutting off his skin bit by bit and tying him to a barbed-wired fence and leaving him to die. He had a fractured skull and he had been completely bloody besides where his tears had cleansed his face. They left him there in nearly freezing tempetures.
After leaving Matthew there they decided to go back into town and they proceeded to beat up two mexican teenagers 18 and 19 years of age.
Police officer Flint Waters arrived at the scene of the fight. He arrested Russell, searched Aaron’s truck, and found a blood-smeared gun along with Matthews shoes and credit card.
Matthew was in a coma eighteen hours after the attack when he was discovered by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow.
Reggie Fluty, the first police officer to arrive at the scene, found Shepard alive but covered in blood.
He had suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He experienced severe brainstem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate his heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Matthew never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. While he lay in intensive care and in the days following the attack, candlelight vigils were held around the world.
They attacked him and got his wallet and there was $30 in there and they still continued to beat him in the car and didn’t stop
Aaron and Russell were arrested and initially charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery. After Shepard’s death, the charges were upgraded from attempted murder to first-degree murder, which meant that the two defendants were eligible for the death penalty.
Aaron was on Meth while this happened and sometimes on meth you can have outbreaks and Aaron claims this is why he couldn’t stop beating him.
Kristen Price and Chasity Pasley, were charged with being accessories after the fact. At Aaron’s November 1998 pretrial hearing, Sergeant Rob Debree testified that Aaron had stated in an interview on October 9 that he and Russllehad identified Matthew as a robbery target and pretended to be gay to lure him out to their truck, and that Aaron had attacked Shepard after Matthew put his hand on Aaron’s Knee. Detective Ben Fritzen testified that Price stated Aaron told her the violence against Shepard was triggered by how Aaron “[felt] about gays”
Aaron’s trial took place in October and November 1999. Prosecutor Cal Rerucha alleged that Aaron and Russell pretended to be gay to gain Matthew’s trust. Aaron’s girlfriend testified that they pretended to be gay to gain Matthew’s trust and rob him.
Aaron’s defense lawyer tried to put a “gay panic defense” excuse for killing Matthew. But this was completely rejected by the Judge.
They ended up serving two consecutive life terms without parolle
Aaron’s girlfriend says it wasn’t a hate crime but it was all about a drug deal gone wrong.