Faye Copeland was 69 when sentenced to death.


Stooped over, wrinkly and walking slowly – you would be forgiven for labelling Faye Copeland as a kind-hearted pensioner.

Except, this 69-year-old golden oldie helped kill five men.

And made a quilt from their clothes.

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The year was 1940, Faye was 19 and fell head over heels for jailbird Ray Copeland.

He’d just been released from a year in prison for petty theft of chickens

Soon, they got married and had children, but money was tight.

Ray kept stealing, and forging cheques so because of this, the family had to keep moving.

He served many sentences over the years, until he came up with a plan to make his money undetected by Police.


So the Copelands began hiring ‘drifters’  who would buy cattle with fake cheques.

The cattle would be sold on, and the drifters would disappear without a trace.

This worked, for awhile – but the Police discovered the plans and Ray went to jail again.

When released, he still continued his criminal ways, but in August 1989 a previous employee called Police to say that Ray had tried to kill him.

Jack McCormick called the Crime Stoppers hotline, saying he’d seen human bones on the farm too.

Police were sceptical, but that October, armed with a search warrant, dozens of officers and bloodhounds – they searched the farm.

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Three bodies of young men were found in a barn, and two more were found buried.

They were all killed with a rifle found in the Copeland home.

Ray was sentenced to death for five counts of murder, but Faye’s involvement was questioned.

Until Police found a quilt that Faye had made – patched from the dead men’s clothing.

In court in November 1990, Faye was painted as a good wife and mother who was beaten by her husband.

But the quilt told how she knew full well that Ray was a serial murderer, and did nothing to stop him.


The jury convicted her of four counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.

Faye was given four death sentences for the murders and life without parole for the manslaughter.

At the ages of 76 and 69, Ray and Faye Copeland were the oldest ever couple on death row.

With Faye being the oldest woman ever to appear to have got the sentence.

When Ray heard Faye was to die by lethal injection, he showed no emotion, saying: ‘Well, those things happen to some, you know.’

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Ray died naturally on 19 October  1993, while awaiting execution and Faye’s attorneys appealed her conviction.

It was upheld but on August 6, 1999, federal judge Ortrie Smith overturned her death sentence gave her five life terms without parole.

But three years later, Faye suffered a stroke which left her paralysed.

Weeks later, Governor Bob Holden granted Faye her last wish – that she wouldn’t die in prison.

The next year, on December 23, 2003, Faye passed aged 82 at a Missouri nursing home from natural causes