Faye Copeland, 82; Convicted of Killing 5 Men in Missouri

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Faye Copeland, 82, a convicted killer who once was the nation’s oldest woman on death row, died Sunday at a nursing home in Chillicothe, Mo.

Copeland had been released to the nursing home on medical parole after suffering a stroke in 2002. The cause of death was not reported.

Authorities contended that Ray and Faye Copeland had used transients in a late-1980s scheme to buy cattle with bad checks, then killed five men and buried them in shallow graves.


Faye Copeland’s defense during trial was that her husband had committed the killings without her knowledge, and that she had been a bystander, a victim of battered woman syndrome.

She was convicted and sentenced to death. Her husband died in prison in 1993 while awaiting execution. He was 78.

The Arkansas-born Copeland was the oldest woman on death row until a federal court commuted her sentence in 1999 to life in prison.

The stroke she suffered in 2002 left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak.