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Mentally Ill Man Sentenced for Third-Degree Murder of His Mother

March 27, 2018

Contact: Alan J. Garabedian, 215.348.6296, ajgarabedian@buckscounty.org

Zachary Cope
       Zachary Cope

A Lower Makefield man who pleaded guilty but mentally ill to third-degree murder in the stabbing death of his mother was sentenced Monday to serve 10 to 40 years in state prison.

Zachary Cope, 32, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, entered the plea Jan. 22 in Bucks County Common Pleas Court.

In imposing the punishment, Judge Raymond F. McHugh accepted the sentence recommended to him by Deputy District Attorney Alan J. Garabedian and Deputy Public Defender Nicholas J. Williamson as a result of a negotiated plea agreement.

“It appears to be a very appropriate sentence,” McHugh said during the brief hearing, saying it falls within the standard range of punishment recommended for Cope’s crime by state sentencing guidelines.

At the time of his plea, Cope admitted to committing the December 2016 murder of his mother, Rebecca Cope, 52, in the Lower Makefield home they shared.

After the killing, Cope told investigators and doctors that he had slain an assassin posing as his mother who had been hired to kill him.

Cope admitted striking his mother with a cutting board and a frying pan before stabbing her and cutting her throat with a knife in their kitchen on Lower Hilltop Road. He told police he had attacked an “imposter” after she ordered him to rub olive oil into the new cutting board – something he said his real mother would never tell him to do.

After stabbing his mother, Cope fled several blocks to Taylorsville Road, where police found him standing in a driveway, wearing only his underwear, a small blanket and one flip-flop in 40-degree weather. Police said Cope had blood on him, as well as scratches and cuts on his back and extremities.

An autopsy determined that Rebecca Cope suffered more than 70 stab wounds to her upper body.

Zachary Cope said little during his sentencing. Under questioning by Williamson, he acknowledged that he would require treatment for his mental illness for the rest of his life.

McHugh recommended that Cope be evaluated immediately to address concerns about where Cope should be housed during his incarceration. Although a judge cannot choose where a prisoner is sent, McHugh recommended that Cope be sent to an appropriate facility equipped to address his mental illness.

The case was investigated by the Lower Makefield Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives.  


Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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