Pastor Who Fatally Stabbed Wife In Cold-Medicine 'Haze' Pleads Guilty To Her Murder

“I feel like a monster, one of the wretched, a part of the darkness we don’t speak of,” Matthew Phelps said of the murder of his wife.

October 08, 2018
Matthew Phelps [WRAL screenshot]

Matthew Phelps [WRAL screenshot]

Matthew Phelps [WRAL screenshot]

By: Catherine Townsend

RALEIGH, NC — An aspiring pastor in North Carolina who claimed that he woke up from a cold medicine-induced "haze" to find his wife's dead body has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Matthew James Phelps, 30, was charged in the September 1, 2017, death of his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, 29. Phelps dialed 911 at about 1:10 A.M. that morning and told the 911 operator that he took “more medicine than I should have" and may have fatally stabbed his wife.

An autopsy showed that Lauren suffered 123 cuts and stab wounds during the vicious attack at the couple’s Raleigh townhouse. The couple had been married for less than a year.

He said, “I took Coricidin Cough and Cold because I know it can make you feel good. A lot of times I can’t sleep at night. So I took some.” However, prosecutors referred in court to tests that they claim showed the amount of cold medicine Phelps took was not toxic.

Phelps will spend the rest of his life in jail, according to his lawyer, since as part of the plea agreement he will not be eligible for parole.

In court Friday Phelps apologized and blamed “drinking, drugs, and carelessness” for the attack. “I feel like a monster, one of the wretched, a part of the darkness we don’t speak of,” he said. "That darkness consumed me until I was blind to the path I had taken and deaf to my own cries for help."

During the course of the investigation detectives discovered that the couple had been arguing over money and Phelps' spending habits, according to the Charlotte News & Observer. Investigators discovered $1,200 worth of iTunes and Xbox subscriptions —charges for Phelps' video game activities. According to the paper, Lauren had been planning to leave the relationship.

In addition, a detective wrote in charging documents that they "learned that Phelps was obsessed with the movie American Psycho and [his] Instagram account shows numerous photographs of scenes from the movie and Phelps dressed as the main character."

The Charlotte News & Observer reports that “more than 50” supporters of Lauren were in court Friday morning wearing #LaurensLight T-shirts.

Read more: People, WRAL.com

Next Up

Omaima Nelson: The Model Who Killed, Castrated & Ate Her Husband For Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day 1991, Nelson unleashed her fury, she claimed, over the sexual terror and other abuses to which her husband Bill had subjected her.

Virginia Woman At Large After Allegedly Fatally Stabbing Her Mom

Alana Renee Cole, 45, remains at large; authorities say she should be considered dangerous.

UPDATE: ‘In Pursuit with John Walsh’ Fugitive John Blauvelt Arrested In Oregon

Investigators said John Blauvelt, 33, who was AWOL from the Army, was on the run for six years after allegedly killing his wife. U.S. Marshals said that during the arrest, Blauvelt was going by the name "Ben Klein".

True Crime News Roundup: Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy Victim Identified 45 Years After His Murder

Plus: Drug supplier pleads guilty to his role in Mac Miller’s overdose death; 3 children found living with brother’s skeletal remains; mother poses online as minor to ensnare sexual predators; and new details emerge in shooting on Alec Baldwin movie set.

Prolific Serial Killer Nurse Charles Cullen May Have Killed As Many As 400 Patients

The murderer’s 16-year medical career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania ended after he was arrested in 2003.

True Crime News Roundup: Brittney Griner Transferred To Russian Penal Colony

Plus: Colorado police launch new probe into JonBenet Ramsey case; Woman sentenced to life for murdering woman to steal her baby; California megachurch leader accused of torturing young daughter; and Texas medical examiner murdered at work by her estranged husband.

True Crime News Roundup: Missing California Woman Found Dead In Remote Woods, Ex-Husband Arrested

Plus: Four University of Idaho students brutally murdered; Pregnant Florida mom found shot; Gabby Petito’s family awarded $3 million in lawsuit; Parents of boy found dead in washing machine charged with his murder.

Update: Is Samuel Little America's Most Prolific Serial Killer With Up To 90 Murders?

By comparison, Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer, is currently considered the country’s worst serial killer following his conviction for murdering 49 victims in Washington during the 1980s and ’90s.

Brandon Clark Sentenced; Family Remembers Bianca Devins As Their 'Princess'

The man responsible for the shocking internet murder of influencer Bianca Devins was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Police Seek Possible Witnesses To 22-Year-Old Brooklyn Woman’s Murder

On Sept. 21, 2022, police responding to reports of a foul odor at a Brooklyn, New York apartment found the dismembered remains of 22-year-old D'Asia Johnson stuffed into a suitcase.