Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.
During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.
Shepard was born in Casper, Wyoming, the first of two sons born to Judy Peck and Dennis Shepard. His younger brother Logan was born in 1981. He attended Crest Hill Elementary School, Dean Morgan Junior High School, and Natrona County High School for his freshman through junior years. Saudi Aramco hired his father in the summer of 1994, and his parents subsequently resided at the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp in Dhahran. During that time, Shepard attended The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), from which he graduated in May 1995. Shepard then attended Catawba College in North Carolina and Casper College in Wyoming, before settling in Denver. Shepard became a first-year political science major at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council.