Contact Us

Shepard Family Declines to Comment on Fred Phelps’ Death

Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

The parents of slain gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard declined to discuss Wednesday’s death of ex-pastor Fred Phelps, whose protests of their son’s funeral in Casper in 1998 garnered worldwide attention.

Jason Marsden, executive director of the Denver-based Matthew Shepard Foundation, read a statement from Judy Shepard on Thursday:

“Regarding the passing of Fred Phelps, Dennis and I know how solemn these moments are for anyone who loses a loved one. Out of respect for all people and our desire to erase hate, we’ve decided not to comment further.”

Phelps founded the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church in 1955. While it had gained some attention for its anti-gay protests in the 1990s, it became internationally famous for protesting Matt Shepard’s funeral at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in October 1998.

Homosexuality was ruining America, according to Phelps and the church. They later conducted virulent protests against sporting events, churches of all denominations and funerals of soldiers.

Late Saturday, his estranged son Nathan Phelps posted that his father was living in a hospice and “on the edge of death” since August after he lost a power struggle within the church.

Thursday, the Topeka Capital-Journal’s website cjonline.com reported Shirley Phelps-Roper confirmed her father’s death had occurred late Wednesday.

The Westboro Baptist Church’s website godhatesfags.com posted a comment on one of its blog sites on Thursday acknowledging its founder’s demise. The post castigated the media, but did little to commemorate  his life:

“The world-wide media has been in a frenzy during the last few days, gleefully anticipating the death of Fred Waldron Phelps Sr.  It has been an unprecedented, hypocritical, vitriolic explosion of words…. So – the death of Fred Phelps’ body, a man who preached a plain faithful doctrine to an ever darkening world, is nothing but a vain, empty, hypocritical hope for you.”

More News from KGAB

Best of the Web

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://kgab.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on KGAB 650AM quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on KGAB 650AM quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!