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  • Published: 26 May 2020
  • ISBN: 9781586422523
  • Imprint: Steerforth Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 418
  • RRP: $34.99

The Book of Matt

The Real Story of the Murder of Matthew Shepard



“Methamphetamine was a huge part of this case . . . It was a horrible murder driven by drugs.” — Prosecutor Cal Rerucha, who convicted Matthew Shepard's killers

What role did crystal meth and other previously underreported factors play in the brutal murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard? The Book of Matt is a page-turning cautionary tale that humanizes and de-mythologizes Matthew while following the evidence where it leads, without regard to the politics that have long attended this American tragedy.

Late on the night of October 6, 1998, twenty-one-year-old Matthew Shepard left a bar in Laramie, Wyoming with two alleged “strangers,” Aaron McKin­ney and Russell Henderson. Eighteen hours later, Matthew was found tied to a log fence on the outskirts of town, unconscious and barely alive. He had been pistol-whipped so severely that the mountain biker who discovered his battered frame mistook him for a Halloween scarecrow. Overnight, a politically expedient myth took the place of important facts. By the time Matthew died a few days later, his name was synonymous with anti-gay hate.

Stephen Jimenez went to Laramie to research the story of Matthew Shepard’s murder in 2000, after the two men convicted of killing him had gone to prison, and after the national media had moved on. His aim was to write a screenplay on what he, and the rest of the nation, believed to be an open-and-shut case of bigoted violence. As a gay man, he felt an added moral imperative to tell Matthew’s story. But what Jimenez eventually found in Wyoming was a tangled web of secrets. His exhaustive investigation also plunged him deep into the deadly underworld of drug trafficking. Over the course of a thirteen-year investigation, Jimenez traveled to twenty states and Washington DC, and interviewed more than a hundred named sources.

The Book of Matt is sure to stir passions and inspire dialogue as it re-frames this misconstrued crime and its cast of characters, proving irrefutably that Matthew Shepard was not killed for being gay but for reasons far more complicated — and daunting.

  • Published: 26 May 2020
  • ISBN: 9781586422523
  • Imprint: Steerforth Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 418
  • RRP: $34.99

Praise for The Book of Matt

Law Enforcement Officers with Firsthand Knowledge of the Matthew Shepard Case: “Methamphetamine . . . was the root cause of the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard . . . That people continue to deny that meth had a major role in this tragedy is a tragedy itself.” — Former Laramie Police Department Sergeant Mark Beck “There were two enormous tragedies that stemmed from this case. The first obvious tragedy is that a young man lost his life. Regardless of the criminal activity that Matthew Shepard was involved in, no human being deserves to be treated in the same fashion that he was. The second tragedy was how pathetic and how poorly the media handled this case. It has been painfully obvious to me for many years now that the media had absolutely no interest in learning or reporting the facts of this case. The media simply wanted to sensationalize this homicide as a hate crime instead of reporting it for what it really was about: DRUGS.” — Former Laramie Detective Ben Fritzen, a lead investigator on the Matthew Shepard murder  “Many people have called this a hate crime . . . The Court does not find this matter to be so simplistic, for it is quite clear that a number of motives and emotions were involved.” — Former District Court Judge Jeffrey Donnell, who presided over the trial of Matthew Shepard's killer Aaron McKinney  “My educated opinion at the start of the investigation was that drugs were the motive behind the murder and that opinion was bolstered by conversations with other officers and detectives during and at the conclusion of the investigation. The more information I gather now, the more that conclusion becomes unchangeable.” — Former Laramie Police Sergeant Mitch Cushman “[The Book of Matt] documents the original failure of the media, the community and the criminal justice system to find the real truth." — Former Laramie police officer Flint Waters, who captured one of Matthew's killers and recovered the murder weapon NATIONAL TRUE CRIME BESTSELLER "An award-winning journalist uncovers the suppressed story behind the death of Matthew Shepard. . . . As Jimenez deconstructs an event that has since passed into the realm of mythology, he humanizes it . . . Investigative journalism at its relentless and compassionate best." — Kirkus Reviews "A gripping read." People magazine "Be prepared to encounter a radically revised version of the life and death of Matthew Shepard . . . This riveting true crime narrative will appeal to readers of books such as Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song." Library Journal (★ Starred Review) "The extensive interviews and dogged investigative research conducted by Jimenez make The Book of Matt a model for journalistic inquiry. . . . Jimenez is revealing today what we should have read fifteen years ago. In the meantime, the media continues to report on some anti-gay hate crimes while completely ignoring others, and thousands go completely unreported out of fear of retaliation. Perhaps the main takeaway from The Book of Matt is that we should challenge ourselves to demand the truth from our media at all times, even if it costs us a tidy narrative." — Rachel Wexelbaum in Lambda Literary Review "Mr. Jimenez's book is most useful in illuminating the power of the media to shape the popular conception of an event. It shows how a desire for Manichaean morality tales can lead us to oversimplify the human experience. . . . Mr. Jimenez's findings cast doubt on what he calls the Shepard story's function as latter-day 'passion play and folktale.'" The Wall Street Journal "Fifteen

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