A North Carolina woman had 123 stab and cut wounds in her body after her husband, an aspiring preacher, killed his wife during a cough syrup-induced stupor, police said.
Matthew James Phelps, 28, told police he woke up on Sept. 1 to find his wife’s blood-stained body next to him.
“I think I killed my … there’s blood all over me,” Phelps said during a 911 call, “and there’s a bloody knife on the bed. I think I did it.”
The autopsy report, released Tuesday, showed Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, 29, had 44 stab wounds and cuts on her head and neck. The other stabs and cuts were found on her torso, arms and much of her body, The News & Observer reported.
Phelps was believed to have been cut and stabbed with a kitchen knife, the autopsy report said. Toxicologists did not detect any alcohol in the slain woman’s body.
Phelps, who worked at a landscaping company and studied missions and evangelism at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky., told 911 operators he believed he might have stabbed his wife because he consumed too much cough syrup.
“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 told a 911 operator.
“I can’t believe I did this,” Phelps was heard sobbing. "Oh God. She didn’t deserve this. Why?"
When officers arrived to Phelps’ home in North Raleigh, they discovered his wife in a “fetal position, covered in blood on the bedroom floor,” the autopsy report said. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
In September, a grand jury discovered there was enough probable cause to decide Phelps “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously did of malice aforethought kill and murder his wife.” The couple was married for less than a year.
It was not immediately clear how much Coricidin Phelps had in his body at the time of the killing. Bayer, the company which supplies Coricidin, told People “there is no evidence to suggest the drug associated with violent behavior.”
The News and Observer reported some potential side effects of the cough medicine were hallucinations and “out of-body experiences.”
Earlier this month, police were granted a search warrant for Phelps’ home where they obtained a “white bedspread, a white sheet, a gray white comforter and several pillowcases that were all marred with an unknown red substance,” the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office, stated.
Investigators also took a Coricidin Cold & Cough medicine box that was empty, four computers, receipts, a mortgage statement, a knife set, credit cards and an iPhone that reportedly belonged to the deceased wife.
Phelps, who does not have a criminal record, has been charged with first-degree murder in his wife’s death. He is being held at Wake County Jail without bail. He was slated to be arraigned on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report