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Gay Student Attacked in Wyoming

October 9, 1998 GMT

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) _ A gay student at the University of Wyoming was savagely beaten, burned and left to die tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne. Three suspects were arrested.

Passers-by found Matthew Shepard, a 22-year-old political science major, bloody and unconscious Wednesday evening a mile northeast of Laramie. His skull had been smashed with a blunt object.

Shepard was in critical condition and on a respirator at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. He was last heard from Tuesday evening when he called friends from a bar.


A University of Wyoming student and two other people were arrested Thursday in connection with the beating and were scheduled to be in court today. Authorities said they expect more arrests.

Shepard was found by two motorcyclists who at first thought he was a scarecrow because of the way he was positioned on the fence, Albany County Sheriff Gary Puls said.

Police were investigating whether the beating was motivated by Shepard’s sexual orientation. He had twice been beaten recently and attributed those attacks to his open homosexuality, friends said.

His small size, open personality and homosexuality combined to make him a target for viciousness, friends said.

Puls, who initially characterized the attack as a ``hate crime,″ was later asked if it was an anti-gay attack. ``At the present time we are not confirming that,″ Puls said.

The three people who were arrested were identified as Russell Arthur Henderson, 21, Chastity Vera Pasley, 20, and Kristen Leann Price, 18. Henderson was being held on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder. Pasley, the University of Wyoming student, and Price were suspected of being accessories after the fact to attempted first-degree murder.