Wyoming Equality: Author of Shepard Book Is A Snake Oil Salesman
The Executive Director of a group that lobbies for the rights of LGBTQ people in Wyoming said the author of a book that claims gay UW student Matthew Shepard was murdered over a drug deal gone bad is a "snake oil salesman" and a shoddy journalist.
Sara Burlingame of Wyoming Equality appeared on KGAB radio in Cheyenne on Friday to respond to Stephen Jimenez, the author of "The Book of Matt." Also appearing on the program was Wyoming Equality board member Rev. Hannah Villnave.
Jimenez, who appeared on KGAB on Thursday, claims in his book that rather than being killed because he was gay, Shepard was instead killed as a result of a meth deal that went awry.
But Burlingame on Friday said Jimenez ignored the conclusions of law enforcement officers who investigated the 1998 murder as well as the statements of Shephard's killers, Aaron McKinney, and Russell Henderson.
She also said that while Jimenez claimed to have spoken to detective Rob Debree of the Albany County Sheriff's Office, who was the lead investigator in the Shepard case, Debree said he didn't remember ever talking to Jimenez. Debree died in 2016.
In regard to Jimenez's claim that Shepard was a meth user and dealer, Burlingame said FBI agents searched his apartment and car after his death without finding any trace of methamphetamine. ''You don't find a meth dealer with no meth" she said.
She called Jimenez's book "fundamentally untruthful" and said she and other LGBTQ advocates have previously avoided confronting Jimenez ''because it felt obscene to have to defend a murdered child."
Burlingame at another point said Jimenez is more interested in peddling his own career than in getting at the truth of the Matthew Shepard murder. She added, "I think it's offensive for someone to come to our town and desecrate our dead."
Shepard was viciously beaten on Oct. 6, 1998, near Laramie, dying on Oct. 12 of that year from his injuries. McKinney and Henderson are each serving two consecutive life sentences for his murder.
Shepard's unusually brutal beating death has often been cited by LGBTQ activists as an example of homophobic violence that reflects what they say is an undercurrent of hatred towards gay people in American society.