Police say an aspiring pastor in North Carolina stabbed and cut his wife 123 times while he was was in a cough syrup-induced stupor.
Matthew James Phelps, 28, said he woke up and discovered his wife’s blood-saturated body next to him in their North Raleigh home on Sept. 1, the News and Observer reported.
“I think I killed my … there’s blood all over me,” Phelps told a 9-1-1 operator, “and there’s a bloody knife on the bed. I think I did it.”
An autopsy released Tuesday states that his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, 29, sustained 44 cuts and stab wounds on her head and neck. Others were found on her body and arms. Some of her wounds were reportedly more than four inches deep. Phelps, who has no previous criminal record, has been charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bail at the Wake County Jail.
According to the report, the woman was likely stabbed with a kitchen knife. Toxicologists say she had no alcohol in her system. The two were married for less than a year.
Phelps, who was employed by a landscaping company and studied missions and evangelism at Kentucky’s Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, says he believes he may have killed his wife because he ingested too much cough syrup.
“I took more medicine than I should have,” he said during the 9-1-1 call. “I took Coricidin Cough and Cold because I know it can make you feel good and sometimes I can’t sleep at night.”
Phelps cried as he said: “I can’t believe I did this. Oh God. She didn’t deserve this. Why?”
When police arrived at the house, they found the woman’s body “in a fetal position, covered in blood on the bedroom floor.” Phelps’ wife was immediately taken to the hospital, and she was pronounced dead.
Last month, a grand jury found that there’s sufficient probable cause to determine Phelps “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously did of malice aforethought kill and murder his wife.”
It’s unclear how much Corocidin Phelps had consumed before the slaying. Corocidin manufacturer Bayer told People that “there’s no evidence to suggest the drug [is] associated with violent behavior.”
However, some possible side effects of the drug include hallucinations and “out of body experiences,” the News and Observer reported.
Earlier in October, authorities obtained a warrant and searched Phelps’ home. They collected a “white bedspread, a white sheet, a gray white comforter and several pillowcases that were all marred with an unknown red substance,” according to the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.
Police also obtained an empty Corocidin box, four computers, receipts, a mortgage statement, knives, credit cards and the iPhone belonging to the deceased woman.