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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ray and Faye Copeland: The Elderly Murderers

Ray and Faye Copeland were by no means the first couple to kill together, but they were certainly the strangest. At the time of their murders, both were senior citizens.

When the two met in 1940, Ray had already gotten into trouble with the law several times for cattle theft and forgery. They were married approximately six months later and they had five children: four sons and a daughter.

During the course of the marriage, Ray was continuously in and out of prison for livestock theft and passing bad checks. The Copeland family moved from place to place quite a bit before settling at a small farm in Missouri in 1967.

Ray was an unpleasant man, despised by all of his neighbors for his poor demeanor and abusive treatment of his wife and children. After realizing that he spent more time in prison than not, Ray began using others to commit his crimes for him.

This is how the killings began...

The Nebraska emergency phone line received a strange call from a Jack McCormick on August 20, 1989. He claimed to have worked on a farm for an elderly couple in Missouri.

He went on to tell how his employer, Ray Copeland, used drifters to carry out illegal livestock scams. When Ray became aware of his suspicions, he tried to kill him. He also reported seeing human bones scattered around the farm.

This information was forwarded to the authorities in Missouri. Aware of Ray's extensive criminal record, Missouri authorities worked to gather enough evidence against him to obtain a search warrant.

The warrant was granted and on October 9, 1989, Sheriff Leland O'Dell and 40 other officers arrived at the Copeland farm to conduct a search. Nothing was found until a week later. On October 17, 1989, officers discovered three dead bodies in a barn that was frequently used by Ray.

The victims each exhibited a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. They were identified as 21-year-old Paul Jason Cowart; 27 year-old John Freeman; and 27 year-old Jimmie Dale Harvey.

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