Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 — Oct 12, 1998)

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2008

Ten years ago today, on October 12, 1998, Poudre Valley Hospital’s CEO Rulon Stacey released this medical update during a hastily called press conference at 4:30 a.m.:

At 12 midnight on Monday, October 12, Matthew Shepard’s blood pressure began to drop. We immediately notified his family who were already at the hospital.

At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside.

Matthew arrived at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, October 7, in critical condition.

Matthew remained in critical condition during his entire stay at Poudre Valley Hospital. During his stay, efforts to improve his condition proved to no avail.

Matthew died while on full life support measures.

Funeral arrangements are pending, and we will announce those arrangements on our website as soon as they are available at, under the PVHS NEWS toolbar. Please do not call the hospital for this information; we will post the information on this web site as soon as we find out.

The family did release the following statement, “We would like to thank the hospital for their kindness, professionalism, sympathy, and respect for the needs of our family under this stressful time. We will always be grateful for their concern for Matthew.”

The family again asked me to express their sincere gratitude to the entire world for the overwhelming response for their son. During the last 24 hours we have received nearly 2000 e-mails from every continent, and, our Website has received thousands of hits on Saturday and Sunday. We will continue to forward to the family any e-mail we receive…

The family was grateful they did not have to make a decision regarding whether or not to continue life support for their son. Like a good son, he was caring to the end and removed guilt or stress from the family.

He came into the world premature and left the world premature.

Matthew’s mother said, “Go home, give your kids a hug and don’t let a day go by without telling them you love them.”

Matthew’s family is so grateful that his last words to them were, “I love you.” This was said when the family went to Saudi Arabia where they work for an oil company.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Regan DuCasse

October 12th, 2008

I remember where I was the night he was kidnapped and beaten. I remember clearly the end of the week and weekend up to his death, that I waited and listened, as it seemed the nation did, on his struggle to live.

My sorrow was deep and intense. I had to DO something. I reached out. I reached out to anyone I could. His parents, his friends…I learned that, after all, I was only one degree, one person away from knowing Matt Shepard myself. We passed each other, unknowingly through his best friend, Nikki Pearson.

There have been other friends of Matt’s who have remained close and strong in my life. His mother has too.
His mother, and that of Emmett Till, inspired a play that I wrote to bridge the contention between blacks and gays on whose civil rights are legitimate.

I traveled to Casper, WY and witnessed the commitment ceremony of Matt’s friends, Jason Marsden and Guy Padgett. They toured me through where Guy and Matt attended grade school, I got a full picture of his life there.
The winds and the stars…remind me always of what is timeless, always present and beautiful there.

I have grieved over the violent losses of young gays and lesbians and the transgendered since his killing. There seems no end, no compassionate, rational and thoughtful way to reach those who still don’t value the lives of gay people and the transgendered.

Some days I grow a little weary, sad…but then…
I’ll see or hear from a young person, gay and not, who has that spark of understanding and compassion and outright love. It’s a cousin, a sibling…a teacher, parent, someone gay in their lives that taught them and showed them the extraordinary strenght and love it takes to love back.
In spite of everything, in spite of daunting odds.

Judy Shepard broke my heart when she told me that Matt would have loved me. I was his kind of person and that we’d easily would have had a meeting of the minds and heart. Nikki and Guy told me the same thing.
So, for the love of every man and woman like him. In his name and memory, I’ll go on until the work is done and young people like himself, or who would care for and like him, are safe and free.
Love to one and all, your friend in the trenches,
Regan Talley DuCasse


October 12th, 2008

My heart breaks to read these posts, no matter the elapsed time. And I am reminded of Byron:
“And if I laugh at any mortal thing
‘Tis that I may not weep…”

Matthew, you never really had a chance at life…
I can only hope that wherever you now reside, you can view the good that has come from what was so inhumanly wrong…

We, as a race, can be so much better than this…

It is,indeed, about time we started acting like it.

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