Beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming on the night of October 6, 1998. –
As a child, he was friendly with all his classmates, but was targeted for teasing due to his small stature and lack of athleticism. He was 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.
In 1995 he was beaten and raped during a high school trip to Morocco. This caused him to experience depression and panic attacks. One of his friends feared that his depression had driven him to become involved with drugs during his time in college. Multiple times, he was hospitalized due to his clinical depression and suicidal ideation.
They drove the car to a remote, rural area, and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture him, tie him to a fence in near-freezing temperatures, and leave him to die.
Police reports described how he was beaten so brutally that his face was completely covered in blood, except where it had been partially cleansed by his tears.
Still tied to the fence, he was in a coma 18 hours after the attack. 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 and there were about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate.
He never regained Consciousness and remained on full life support. he was pronounced dead six days after the attack at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998. He was 21 years old.