@jruben55
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2023-01-11 12:58:07

    Never forget. On the night of October 6, 1998, Matthew Wayne Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. McKinney and Henderson decided to give Shepard a ride home. They subsequently drove the car to a remote, rural area, and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture Shepard, tie him to a fence, and leave him to die–all because he was gay. It was reported that Shepard was beaten so brutally that his face was completely covered in blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by his tears. After the attack, McKinney and Henderson returned to town and McKinney picked a fight with two Hispanic youths, Emiliano Morales and Jeremy Herrara. The fight led to head wounds for both Morales and McKinney. Police officer Flint Waters arrived at the scene, arrested Henderson, and soon found the bloody gun and Shepard’s shoes and credit card in McKinney’s truck. Henderson and McKinney later tried to persuade their girlfriends to provide alibis for them and help them dispose of evidence. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was in a coma 18 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. The medical gloves issued by the Albany County Sheriff’s Department were faulty, and Fluty’s supply ran out. She decided to use her bare hands to clear an airway in Shepard’s bloody mouth. A day later, she was informed that Shepard was HIV positive, and she may have been exposed due to cuts on her hands. After taking an AZT regimen for several months, she tested negative for HIV. Judy Shepard later wrote she learned of her son’s HIV status during his stay at the hospital following the attack. Shepard 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 on him. Shepard 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. Shepard was pronounced dead six days after the attack at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital, in Fort Collins, Colorado. He was 21 years old.