NC man who blamed cough syrup in wife’s killing gets life sentence


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh man accused of stabbing his wife more than 120 times in 2017 has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. 

Matthew Phelps was charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his 29-year-old wife, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, on Sept. 1, 2017.

On Friday, Matthew Phelps admitted to a Wake County judge that he stabbed his wife to death. 

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. 

Lauren Ashley-Nicole Phelps

Prosecutors played a 911 call made the night of the murder for the court. Matthew Phelps walked into a courtroom with long hair and a beard – a much different looked compared to his mugshot taken following the murder. 

Matthews Phelps called 911 around 1:15 a.m. and told the dispatcher he “thinks he stabbed his wife.”

“I think I killed my (redacted),” Phelps said. “I had a dream and then I turned on the lights and she’s dead on the floor. I have blood all over me and there’s a bloody knife on the bed and I think I did it.”

The courtroom was filled with more than a dozen people wearing shirts with “#LaurensLight” printed on the back.

Lauren Phelps suffered 123 stab wounds, according to the medical examiner. In court, prosecutors said Lauren tried to defend herself against the attack and none of her wounds were postmortem. 

Her head and neck had 44 wounds, with her left jugular suffering damage, the medical examiner’s report says. She was also stabbed in the left arm 38 times and 17 in her right arm.

Warrants say investigators believe Matthew Phelps attempted to clean himself up before calling for help. 

A kitchen knife was found on the bed, warrants say. 

Warrants say Matthew Phelps made “numerous spontaneous utterances” that he killed his wife. 

Matthew Phelps told investigators he had taken too much of a cough medicine called Coricidin and awoke from a dream to find his wife dead. Investigators seized an empty container of Coricidin during their initial search of the couple’s home. 

Coricidin is a cold medicine for people with high blood pressure.

Warrants say investigators looked at Matthew Phelps social media accounts where they found he was “possibly fascinated with and mimicked a portrayed serial killer” from the movie American Psycho. 

Matthew Phelps’ Instagram account contained photos of him dressed as the movie’s main character. 

Warrants also say Matthew Phelps told a friend he wondered what it would be like to kill someone. 

The warrants states Lauren Phelps had recently taken steps to curb her husband’s spending. 

Lauren Phelps was found clutching hair in her hands and investigators wanted a sample of Matthew Phelps’ hair to compare the samples, warrants say. 

Matthews Phelps was indicted on the first-degree murder charge on Sept. 25, 2017.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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