Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

William Slagle

Real Name: William Lee Slagle
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: September 21, 1989

Rex Copeland


Details: Forty-two-year-old Samford University debate coach William Slagle is wanted for the murder of his star debater, twenty-year-old Rex Bartley Copeland. Rex had been one of the university's best debaters, but had grown tired of the demands of college debate. He wanted to focus instead on his classes and preparing for law school. Slagle, who was described by students as a demanding taskmaster, was displeased with Rex's performance in a practice.
On September 21, 1989, Slagle confronted Rex at his Hunters Pointe apartment. He then brutally stabbed Rex to death. After the murder, he returned to his office and left a voicemail on Rex's answering machine, instructing him to return for more practice. He later attended his victim's funeral, offering condolences to his parents.
Several days after the murder, he sent a letter from Nashville, Tennessee to police, confessing to the murder. He also sent a letter from Los Angeles International Airport, claiming that he was going to commit suicide. However, before he vanished, he took $10,000 from his bank. Investigators believe that he is still alive. He is wanted for Rex's murder.
Extra Notes: This originally aired as part of an FBI Alert on January 31, 1990, along with Rafael Rodriguez. The case was also documented on Murder U.

William Slagle after his surrender

Results: Captured. On April 3, 1990, after six months on the run, Slagle surrendered to the authorities. At trial, he claimed that he acted in self defense. The jury didn't believe him; evidence found at the scene showed that Slagle had cleaned up the crime scene, removed evidence, and even locked the door to the apartment. In December of 1990, he was convicted of Rex's murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was denied parole in 2001 and 2007 and eventually died in prison in 2010.