A new detailed documentary “The Matthew Shepard Story: An American Hate Crime.” was released in ID on October 9 to provide an in-depth look at Matthew Shepard’s life and legacy after 25 years of his death.
About “The Matthew Shepard Story: An American Hate Crime”:
The two-hour-long special documentary focuses on Matthew Shepard’s story at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is once again under attack.
What Happened to Matthew Shepard?
On October 7, 1998, two roofing workers kidnapped, assaulted, and robbed a gay student from the University of Wyoming. The two kidnappers tied the 21-year-old student to a fence and left to die in the extreme cold outside Laramie. The young student unfortunately died in the hospital five days later.
Soon police arrested the two convicted Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. The two were already facing many charges including an attempt to murder. After Matthew Shepard’s death, the police also awarded them a first-degree attempt to murder charge.
Henderson instantly pleaded guilty whereas a jury convicted McKinney the following year. Their girlfriends also faced charges in connection with the murder.
The main character of “The Matthew Shepard Story: An American Hate Crime”, Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old political science student. He went to a gay-friendly local bar called Fireside Lounge on the evening of October 6, 1998, for a karaoke night. There he met the two roofing workers: Henderson and McKinney. When the two understood Matthew’s sexual orientation, they pretended to be gay and invited Matthew for a drink.
According to BBC, the two took Matthew in McKinney’s truck and robbed his wallet, keys, shoes, everything and drove him far from the town to a dirt path in a rocky prairie and tied the victim to a long fence and left Matthew to die in the extreme cold weather.
Eighteen hours later, a biker found Matthew in such a situation. The 21-year-old guy was suffering four skull fractures and never regained consciousness. Matthew took his last breath five days later on October 12, at the Colorado hospital.
What happened to Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney?
Police arrested the two suspects even before Matthew died and charged them with attempted murder, which changed to first-degree murder. Henderson instantly pleaded guilty and received two consecutive life sentences. McKinney stood trial in 1999 and a jury found him guilty and sentenced him to two consecutive life terms in prison without parole.
The tragic death of Matthew Shephard changed not only the American LGBTQ+ community but also forced the world to raise its voice against the attack on the LGBTQ+ community.