Crime

Police find empty cold medicine box and bloody bedding in home where wife was found dead

Investigators recovered what appeared to be bloodied bedding and an empty cold medicine box from the home of Matthew James Phelps, a 29-year-old Bible college graduate who last month told a 911 dispatcher that he took too much cough medicine and awoke to find his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, dead on their bedroom floor.

Phelps has been in jail since Sept. 1, when he told a 911 dispatcher that he thought he had killed his wife.

When police arrived at the Phelps’ home at 5246 Patuxent Drive in North Raleigh that morning, they found Lauren Phelps, also 29, mortally injured with multiple stab wounds, according to a search warrant made public Wednesday at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office. Emergency workers transported Lauren Phelps to WakeMed in Raleigh, where she was pronounced dead, police reported.

Investigators say Phelps repeated the claim that he had “harmed” his wife when he was first taken into custody, police detective J.B. Stroud stated in the search warrant application.

Police obtained the search warrant at 4:27 a.m. and used it to seize 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 search warrant.

The investigators also seized an empty box of Coricidin Cold & Cough medicine, a knife block set, a silver Dell laptop, two Apple Macbooks, an iPhone that belonged to Lauren Phelps, a large Apple computer and other items including receipts, credit cards and a mortgage statement, according to the search warrant.

Just after 1:10 a.m. Sept. 1, Phelps phoned an emergency operator and said he had awakened after taking too much Coricidin Cough & Cold medicine before going to sleep. He recalled having a dream, then waking up to see his wife’s body on the floor and a knife on the bed, according to a 911 recording made public by the Raleigh Police Department after the slaying.

“There’s blood all over me, and there’s a bloody knife on the bed. I think I did it,” Phelps told the dispatcher in the nearly six-and-a-half-minute call.

“I took more medicine than I should have. I took Coricidin Cough and Cold because I know it can make you feel good and sometimes I can’t sleep at night.”

Phelps then said, “Oh my God. Oh God. She didn’t deserve this. Why?”

Phelps remains in custody at the Wake County jail without benefit of bail, a jail spokesman said Wednesday.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald

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