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Wake Forest man to serve life in prison for 2015 murder of his wife

Posted April 15

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— A Wake Forest man pleaded guilty on Friday to killing his wife last fall while trying to steal her debit card.

Lanson Paul Stalf, 39, was charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 27 death of Stephanie Lynn Autry in her Wake Forest home. Under his plea deal, Stalf will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Under the agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony breaking and entering and a parole violation.

Stalf was arrested three days after Autry's death in Batesville, Miss., following an extensive manhunt.

According to an affidavit from investigators to obtain a DNA sample from Stalf, he told investigators that he had broken into Autry's home by throwing a rock through a back window and then hit her on the head with a hammer.

He said he stole Autry's debit card from her purse and strangled her with a wire used to hang a picture in the home while trying to get the PIN from her, the affidavit states.

Police found Autry's body in a locked bathroom with a plastic bag over her head, a blanket covering her and a pair of mismatched shoes on top of her, according to the affidavit. A thin wire around her neck was "looped loosely around the knot of the trash bag" behind her head, the affidavit states.

According to a search warrant released in November, a hammer and a sweatshirt that appeared to have bloodstains on it were found near the bathroom. Stalf told investigators that he had left a bloody sweatshirt in the house after Autry's death, according to the affidavit. Autry lived with her 3-year-old son in Wake Forest.

Stalf had been out of prison for less than a month at the time of Autry's death, following a sentence for a 2013 robbery of a PNC Bank branch in Wake Forest.

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