One hundred years of Samford Crimson

By SYDNEY CROMWELL, Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 22, 1989, Samford’s campus was shocked to learn that junior pre-law student and Sigma Chi member Rex Copeland had been stabbed to death in his own apartment.

The astonishment only increased when the university debate coach, William Slagle, confessed to the murder.CrimsonMurder3_1989

According to investigators in the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, Slagle and Copeland had argued about an upcoming debate competition on Sept. 20.

Early the next morning, the coach visited Copeland’s apartment and killed him. Slagle later returned to his office and called Copeland, leaving a voicemail as an attempt to cover his tracks. He also attended the funeral.

Slagle later disappeared for several months, sending letters to the sheriff’s office from Nashville and Los Angeles. He eventually surrendered and was sentenced to life in prison in 1991.

From the initial discovery of Copeland’s death to Slagle’s disappearance and confession, the Crimson covered every possible aspect of the story. Reporters talked to the debate team, Sigma Chi brothers and professors about how they were handling the tragedy, as well as covering campus opinion of Slagle.

It was a rare and terrible event, made worse by the fact that some of the reporters were Copeland’s classmates and fraternity brothers.

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