Murder of Kenneth Coates by Wanda Haithcock examined on Snapped

Mugshot of Wanda Haithcock
Wanda Haithcock is serving a 30-year sentence for murder. Pic credit: SC Dept. of Corrections

Snapped is investigating the murder of Kenneth Coates, who was shot dead by his ex-girlfriend, Wanda Haithcock, and left in an abandoned home on the outskirts of Conway, South Carolina.

Kenneth “Kenny” Wayne Coates was a beloved member of the community who had numerous friends and liked to hang out and chat with everybody at the local bar. Some considered him to be a carefree bachelor with a successful personal and business life, so it was concerning when he suddenly disappeared.

On Friday, January 6, 2001, 53-year-old Coates was out partying with a friend. The pair said their goodbyes at about 2 a.m. and headed home. Coates wasn’t seen alive again and didn’t turn up for work the following day.

On January 24, 2001, a local artist came upon an abandoned house. She was looking for a suitable location for her artwork when she saw a foot sticking out of a doorway. At first, she thought it was a scarecrow, but she’d actually found Coates’s remains.

Coates had been shot twice, once in the neck and again in the forehead. The forensic detectives said he was shot in the neck first and then fell to the ground. He was then given the fatal shot as he lay on the floor. There were two bullet casings from a .25 semi-automatic firearm lying beside the body.

The cops became suspicious of ex-girlfriend Wanda Haithcock when they learned Coates’s white Ford Explorer was parked behind the house of one of her relatives.

Wanda Haithcock had been arguing with Kenneth Coates about property

The investigators also learned that Haithcock and Coates had a difficult relationship. They had dated for eight years, but it ended badly, and there was bad blood between the pair over two properties they had bought together in Conway and Myrtle Beach.

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The owner of the abandoned house said he came across a white Ford Explorer parked at the property on January 6 with a man and a woman inside. The witness spoke with the woman, who said they had run out of gas and that her boyfriend had already left to go to the gas station on foot.

The witness could not properly see the man sitting on the passenger seat but noted that he didn’t speak and didn’t actually move at all. The witness told the police he was deeply unsettled by the incident. He later identified Haithcock as the woman.

Wanda Haithcock convicted for the murder of Kenneth Coates

When the police went to interview Haithcock, they found she had committed herself to a mental health facility. The cops also found .25 caliber ammunition at her home that matched the casings at the crime scene.

Haithcock was eventually arrested and charged with murder. She was deemed mentally competent to stand trial in 2003.

The first trial ended in a hung jury, but in a second trial, Haithcock was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

This episode of Snapped re-airs Tuesday at 8/7c on Oxygen.

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