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Friday, April 9, 2010

Vanity Fair: "The Crucifixion of Matthew Shepard"

In March 1999, Vanity Fair did an interesting and thorough coverage of the Matt Shepard murder that includes a lot of interesting information from central figures who didn't get a lot of press later-- Tina LaBrie, for instance, and Matt Mickelson, the bartender who served both Shepard and his killers on the night he was beaten.  But the real reason I started reading it was for the illustration you see at the left.  To be honest, the first time I saw this layout in the magazine, it literally stopped me in my tracks.

As far as I can tell from this point, Thernstrom's article is the most detailed of all the earliest coverage of Shepard's death in the first six months of the case.  The details it contains are interesting for a lot of reasons-- first because it was the general public's closest look at the case for a long time to come-- but also because you can see a lot of the mythmaking of the Shepard story starting to crystallize.  Thernstrom's article contains the early facets of what would become the Shepard "narrative" later on-- the comparison to the murder site and Golgotha, for instance.  And you can also see all the details that fall out of the storytelling later-- like the actual location of the fence, or LaBrie's involvement in that limo ride to Fort Collins.  

Vanity Fair itself does not have a link up to this article online (their online archive doesn't go back 10 years), but the magazine itself is pretty easy to locate for those of you who want to track it down in a public library.  For those of you who can't find the hard copy, there is a less-than-authoritative (and probably less than legal) version of the story floating about on the Interwebs.  Beware the typos.  In the long run, you're better off digging out the hard copy. 


Therstrom, Melanie.  "The Crucifixion of Matthew Shepard."  Vanity Fair Mar. 1999: 209-14, 267–275.

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