Ray and Faye Copeland are the oldest known serial killers. The pensioners developed their appetite for killing when they saw drifters as an easy target. From loving grandparents to serial killers.
Ray Copeland was born in 1914, Oklahoma. Struggling to survive the Great Depression, he was involved in petty crime – stealing livestock and forging checks. After his first sentence for fraud, Ray he met young Faye Wilson, with whom he got married soon in the same year. Money became tight, having several children and a bad reputation, the Copeland family had to keep moving around.
Ray Copeland was described as a tyrant and control freak, who was violent against whoever was closest to him. Faye, being a conservative housewife, always stuck by her husband, despite Ray’s abusive behavior towards her and the children.
Since Ray was well-known fraud in the area, he couldn’t buy and sell cattle on his own. In order to get around this problem, he began to pick up drifters and hobos, employed them as his assistants. He would then open bank accounts for them with only 200 dollars deposit and asked them to buy livestock for him. Before the bad checks bounced, he sold the cattle, but there were always witnesses to his scams and it didn’t take long until police caught up, and Copeland had to spend time in jail again.
After his release, he quickly resumed his criminal activities. But this time he wanted to make sure he’s not going to get caught by killing the drifters after the scams went through. Faye Copeland kept the list of the workers, some of them reported missing. One of the workers was Jack McCormick, who called the Crime Stoppers hotline to report about the Copelands. McCormick claimed Ray had tried to kill him and that he had seen human bones on the farm while he was employed. Initially skeptical of the claims, police decided to investigate further. Armed with a search warrant, dozens of officers and canines, more and more bodies of missing drifters were discovered – each man had been shot in the back of the head at close range with the same weapon, a .22 rifle that was later found in the Copeland home. From the house police also found the belongings of missing men and a list of workers. The ones who had ‘X’ after the name, were found dead. The list was written by Faye, even though she claimed she knew nothing about the murders, Ray was illiterate and the forensic examination concluded the handwriting on the paper belonged to Faye.
Ray first tried to plead insanity, but quickly gave up and tried to work out a plea agreement with authorities. He was sentenced to death and charged with 5 counts of first-degree murder. Soon after, he died of natural causes.
Faye’s defense claimed she was also a victim of Ray and that she suffered from Battered Women Syndrome, but the jury believed she knew full well that her husband was a serial murderer and did nothing to stop him and was sentenced to death by lethal injection, making her the oldest woman on death row. Later Faye’s sentence was commuted to life in prison and just like his husband, she died of natural causes. Faye never testified against his husband and supported him until death, unlike Faye who showed no emotion upon hearing his wife sentence.
The couple is the oldest ever sentenced to death in the United States.