DENVER (CBS4) — In October, 1998, a gay University of Wyoming student was beaten and tied to a fence in Laramie in near-freezing temperatures. Matthew Shepard hung there, bleeding, until a cyclist happened to pass by.

The fence became a lasting image of a life lost to bigotry and hatred.

(credit: CBS)

Shepard, who was 21 years old, died later at the hospital.

Matthew Shepard (credit: CBS)

The murder spread outrage across the nation — and sparked fears of copycat attacks.

Now, 20 years later, his family is finally getting the chance to lay him to rest — in a place they can visit, without the fear of the site being desecrated.

Shepard’s ashes will be interred at Washington National Cathedral later this month, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The Washington National Cathedral is pictured on Sunday, August 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)

“I think it’s the perfect, appropriate place,” the Times quoted Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father, as saying. “We are, as a family, happy and relieved that we now have a final home for Matthew, a place that he himself would love.”

Shepard’s mother, Judy, says they believe the cathedral is an ideal choice for her son’s final resting place because he felt welcomed by the Episcopal Church in Wyoming — where he was once an altar boy.

“It’s a place where there’s an actual chance for others to sit and reflect about Matthew, and about themselves, and about their friends,” Dennis Shepard told the Times.

The services are scheduled for Oct. 26.


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