HRC Mourns The Loss Of Brave Student Who Stood Up To Intolerance

Monday, Oct. 12, 1998

WASHINGTON -- Matthew Shepard, 21, the gay University of Wyoming student who was savagely attacked Thursday night and left to die for up to 18 hours tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne, was pronounced dead this morning.

"With a profound sense of sorrow we mourn the death of Matthew Shepard," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and we offer our thoughts and prayers to the Shepard family."

Shepard died while on life support. He had been in a coma since he was found on Thursday by passing motorcyclists. Wyoming's Republican Governor Jim Geringer called on state legislators to adopt laws to deter crimes against lesbians and gay men.

"We are calling on all the people to have a renewed discussion to find out what we might do to strengthen our laws," said Gov. Geringer to the Associated Press. I'm open to any suggestion that we might bring to our legislature."

Two men, Russell Arthur Henderson, 21, and Aaron James McKinney, whose age is unconfirmed, were charged with kidnaping aggravated robbery, and attempted first degree murder and held on $100,000 bond. University of Wyoming student, Chastity Vera Pasley, 20 and Kristen Leann Price, 18, were charged as accessories to the crime. Price was released on $30,000 bond and Pasely is still in jail in lieu of the same amount of money.

"Matthew was not very large, at 5'2" 110 pounds, but he had a big heart and was extremely brave," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "He had the courage to live honestly and openly in less than ideal circumstances. Unfortunately, like many gay men and lesbians, there is often a high price to pay for living a life of dignity and respect."


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