Ray and Faye Copeland were two serial killers from Missouri that are a bit odd for a number of reasons including the fact that they were married and for their ages by the time they would go on trial for multiple murders. In this article on My Crime Library we are going to take a closer look at Ray and Faye Copeland.
Ray And Faye Copeland Early Years
Ray Copeland was born in Oklahoma on December 30, 1914 to a poor family and from an early age turned to a life of crime. Ray would be arrested and sent to jail in 1939 for forging a check. Once released Ray would meet Faye Wilson and the pair would soon marry and have a number of children. Ray Copeland would serve a number of jail sentences for theft and forging checks causing the Copeland family to constantly move from one place to another.
Ray And Faye Copeland Murders
To help with the Copeland family farm Ray would hire farmhands to purchase cattle, Ray could not as he was known as a thief, with bad checks and soon after the purchase was done the farmhands would disappear. Ray would sell the cattle quickly. Unfortunately the scam was quickly noticed by authorities and he was soon arrested again.
Once out of jail Ray Copeland would resume the scam but this time he would use farmhands that had no connection to him. One of the farmhands would later go to police and tell them about the scam and that he had seen human bones on the property. The police decided to investigate Ray Copeland
When the police searched the Copeland farm they found the remains of several people. Ray and Faye Copeland would be arrested and charged with multiple murders
Ray And Faye Copeland Trial
The police came to the conclusion that Ray Copeland had hired the farmhands to purchase cattle and after the deal was done would murder the individuals. However Faye Copeland role in the murders was not clear.
Ray Copeland would be quickly convicted and sentenced to multiple death sentences.
Faye Copeland lawyers tried to put forth a defense that she was innocent of the charges and was an abused woman who was controlled by her husband. The defense did not work and she as well was sentenced to multiple death sentences.
Ray And Faye Copeland Deaths
Ray Copeland would die from natural causes in October, 1993 while he awaited execution on Missouri Death Row
Faye Copeland remained on Missouri Death Row until 1999 when her death sentences were overturned and she was resentenced to multiple life without parole sentences. In 2002 Faye Copeland suffered a massive stroke that left her unable to speak and partially paralyzed. The Governor of Missouri would grant a medical pardon a few weeks later allowing Copeland to be moved to a nursing home where she would die of natural causes at the age of 82 on December 23, 2003.
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Ray And Faye Copeland More News
Faye Copeland, a convicted killer once considered the nation’s oldest woman on death row, has died at a nursing home where she had been released on medical parole, the Missouri Department of Corrections said Tuesday. She was 82.
Copeland was convicted and sentenced to death along with her husband for the murders of five transients as part of a late-1980s livestock swindle at their farm near Chillicothe.
She was the oldest woman on death row until a federal court commuted her sentence in 1999 to life in prison. Copeland suffered a stroke in August 2002 that left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak. She was paroled a couple of weeks later to nursing home in her hometown.
Copeland died Sunday at the Morningside Center nursing home from what Livingston County coroner Scott Lindley described Tuesday as natural causes.
Authorities contended Ray and Faye Copeland used transients in a scheme to buy cattle with bad checks, then killed the men and buried them in shallow graves. Faye Copeland’s defense during trial was that her husband committed the killings without her knowledge and that she was bystander who was the victim of battered woman syndrome.
But jurors found Faye Copeland’s guilty after prosecutors presented a handwritten list of farm helpers in her writing. She had written the names because Ray Copeland was illiterate.
Twelve of the names had scrawled X’s by them. Five of those men turned up dead, and prosecutors believed three others who were missing also died.
Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., who before he was elected to the U.S. House helped prosecute the Copelands in separate trials, said in 1999 that the list of names showed Faye Copeland was more of an accomplice than she claimed.
Copeland had pressed for her release since she was imprisoned