A 28-year-old North Carolina man who claimed he killed his wife after overdosing on cold medicine allegedly stabbed her 123 times, officials said. Matthew James Phelps has been charged with first-degree murder in the 1 September death of 29-year-old Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps.
Matthew Phelps called 911 and said he awoke after taking too much cold medicine and found his new wife dead. "I had a dream, and then I turn on the lights and she's dead on the floor," he told the 911 dispatcher. "I have blood all over me, and there's a bloody knife on the bed, and I think I did it."
He said he took Coricidin Cough and Cold "because I know it can make you feel good and sometimes I can't sleep at night". The aspiring pastor continued: "Oh, my God! She didn't deserve this. I can't believe this. I can't believe this."
According to the autopsy report, Lauren was found in the foetal position on her bedroom floor by first responders. Lauren was found to have suffered 123 stabs and cuts during the violent attack.
She was taken to WakeMed, but died in the emergency room, according to The News & Observer.
Medical examiners found 24 stab wounds and 20 cuts to her head and neck, 13 stab wounds and 11 cuts to her torso, one stab wound and 16 cuts on her right arm and three stab wounds and 35 cuts to her left arm, WRAL reported.
Toxicologists did not detect alcohol in the victim's body and found she did not have any pre-existing natural disease.
Attorney Karl Kundsen, who is not representing Matthew, told WRAL that the number of wounds would rule out accident but could suggest something different for the defence team. "It is, in fact, indicative of somebody who may be detached from reality or having a psychotic state because they're doing it far, far in excess of what would be necessary," he said.
According to the News & Observer, during Matthew's first court appearance, his defence lawyer Joseph Blunt Cheshire V said the effects of the cold medicine are "certainly an interesting subject of inquiry". The medicine warns of potential side effects, including hallucinations and out-of-body experiences.
A grand jury was presented in late September with evidence suggesting Lauren's death was an act of premeditated murder. Jurors determined Matthew "willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously did of malice aforethought kill and murder" his wife of less than a year.
Matthew Phelps remains in the Wake County jail without bail.