A Psychopathic Father or an Innocent Man Wrongly Convicted?

How Cope’s trial revealed the disturbing truths of the legal system

6 min readJan 28, 2021


Left is Billy Wayne Cope, and right is Amanda Cope. Image from the NY Daily Times.

The Narrative.

Back in November 2001, a twelve-year-old girl, Amanda Cope, was found brutally murdered and raped in her own home, in South Carolina. Her father, Billy Wayne Cope, found her dead body in her room and called 911. He would later confess to the crime, not once but three times. However, the story was not that simple.

In his initial statement that he had provided police, he claims that around 6:00 am he had woken up from his sleep and called out his daughter's name. But after receiving no response, he decided to check on her just in case. It was then he found his daughter’s lifeless body on the floor of her own bedroom and called 911.

According to police, Cope was considered a suspect because there were no signs of forced entry, and they believed he was showing too little emotion. Cope was then interviewed twice and then sent home. But he was then brought in for a third time the same night, which would last till the following morning, ending with Cope in prison.

An Interrogation Room. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

For more than 24 hours, Cope stated his innocence despite the persistent interrogation. During this time, he had waived his Miranda rights and volunteered to take a polygraph test five times. He was then left overnight in jail, and taken to do a polygraph test the following morning. The results for his polygraph came back — he passed. However, the officers informed him that he had failed his polygraph test, and the interrogation continued. Shocked, devastated and mind-blown by the results, Cope wondered aloud if someone could commit such a horrible crime, and be left with no memory of it, an idea that the interrogator had suggested the previous night. He then broke down, and confessed to the crime stating that “I must have done it.” He then provided a full story of how he molested and strangled his daughter. His first confession had been sealed.

Two days later, Cope provided police with a second written confession statement, this time his story had…




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