Beginning as a self-described amateur journalist (the best kind), [Stephen Jimenez]…studied Shepard’s murder off and on for 13 years, conducted hundreds of interviews with sources on and off the record, and pored over a public record many thousands of pages long. His comprehensive account corrects the approved version in small matters and large. Shepard was not tied to the rail fence as if crucified, for example, and it’s still not clear, even after Jimenez’s exhaustive reporting, how this piece of misinformation became common knowledge””beyond the obvious explanation that reporters thought the detail was, as the saying goes, too good to check.
More surprisingly, Jimenez concludes that Shepard’s death had nothing to do with homophobia. It was instead the horrific result of a drug deal gone wrong. Indeed, in The Book of Matt, Jimenez offers lots of circumstantial evidence that Shepard and one of his murderers, a violent and drug-addled bit of tumbleweed called Aaron McKinney, were rival dealers in crystal meth. Several named witnesses told Jimenez that the two even had a sexual relationship.
“I knew in writing the book that it would stir up a lot of questions, a lot of conversation,” Jimenez said on the phone, “and it has!”
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.