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Man Stabs Wife After Cough Syrup Blackout

Leanna Commins
Photo credit: Matthew Phelps

From Cosmopolitan

According to harrowing audio of a 911 call (published by The Raleigh Observer), 29-year-old Matthew James Phelps told a dispatcher early last Friday morning that he had stabbed his wife Lauren to death after taking too much cough medicine and blacking out. "I had a dream and then I turned on the lights and she’s dead on the floor," Phelps says on the call. When the dispatcher asked how, Phelps responded, "There’s blood all over me, and there’s a bloody knife on the bed. I think I did it."

Phelps explains to the dispatcher that he took Coricidin Cough and Cold medicine before going to sleep, and that he didn't know what time it was. "I took more medicine that I should have. I took [the medicine] because I know it can make you feel good and sometimes I can’t sleep at night," he said.

Photo credit: RALEIGH PD

Lauren Phelps, 29, was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead. According to The Observer, Raleigh police have charged Phelps with her murder, with a court appearance scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

According to his Facebook page, Phelps works at a lawn service company, and previously studied at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College. Lauren, according to WRLA, was a Sunday school teacher. The couple were married last fall.

Bayer, the maker of Coricidin Cough and Cold medicine, told ABC News in a statement that they extend their "deepest sympathies" to Lauren's family, but there is "no evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior."

Update 9/6 2:30 a.m. EST: As People reports, Phelps, who was studying to become a pastor, appeared in court on Tuesday in Wake County, North Carolina, on a first-degree murder charge. His attorney Joseph Cheshire addressed public speculators about his client's charge:

"It’s a very tragic situation - sad and tragic. And at the same time we have to ask everybody to withhold judgement in this particular case until we know more and we’re able to develop more. There’s a lot to this story I believe that will be told in the future.

I know this is difficult for people to understand, but he [Phelps] is going through a terrible trauma. And you know there are all kinds of stages to these things and he’s at the beginning of those stages. So there’s a lot of trauma to go around in all of this, in all of these cases always."

Phelps did not enter a plea during his appearance. Under North Carolina state law, if Phelps is convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Update 10/18 10:40 p.m. EST: People reports that an autopsy report for Lauren Phelps's body revealed that she'd been slashed and stabbed 123 times.

According to the coroner, she suffered "24 stab wounds and 20 cuts to her neck and head and 13 stab wounds and 11 cuts to her torso," as well as defensive wounds: "35 cuts and three stab wounds to her left arm, and 16 cuts and one stab wound on her right arm." The report also states that she was found on the bedroom floor of the couple's home.

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