Local News

Wife laid to rest, husband faces murder charge with cold medicine defense

Posted September 4
Updated September 5

— The death of a Raleigh Sunday school teacher and the apparent 911 confession of her husband was drawing national attention Monday because of his unusual defense.

"I had a dream, and then I turn on the lights and she's dead on the floor," Matthew Phelps told a 911 dispatcher. "I have blood all over me, and there's a bloody knife on the bed, and I think I did it."

Lauren Ashley-Nicole Phelps, 29, was laid to rest Monday at Hope Lutheran Church in Wake Forest, where she was an active member of the congregation. Her sister, Beth Agner, is a youth minister at the church.

Members of the media were shooed away from the service, and friends of Lauren Phelps told WRAL News that the family had asked them not to talk about her.

A printed obituary gives Lauren Phelps' maiden name – Lauren Ashley Nicole Hugelmaier – and makes no mention of her husband.

Messages on social media show a young woman who was much loved by a community of friends around the country – friends who are stunned and unable to understand her sudden death.

The Phelpses had been married less than a year when Matthew Phelps called 911 in the wee hours of Friday morning to report that his wife had been stabbed.

He can be heard sobbing on the call.

"I took more medicine than I should have," 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 and I took some."

Bayer, maker of Coricidin, issued this statement on Monday:

"Bayer extends our deepest sympathies to this family. Patient safety is our top priority, and we continually monitor adverse events regarding all of our products. There is no evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior."

The couple was alone in the house at the time of the attack.

"She didn’t deserve this," Matthew Phelps sobbed. "Why?"

Lauren Phelps was an auditor at Quintiles, according to her obituary, and a 2011 graduate of Appalachian State University.

According to his Facebook page, Matthew Phelps graduated from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Kentucky in 2011 and works for Dunlap Lawn Service.

He is scheduled for a first court appearance Tuesday at 2 p.m.

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  • Norman Lewis Sep 4, 3:25 p.m.
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    I have taken various cold medications for 50 years and never killed anyone. This is a pitifully poor excuse for committing a murder. Almost as bad as the "Twinkie" or "Affuluenza" defense was for committing a violent crime. I am disgusted by the level of contempt these murderers hold for the intelligence of the public and the Prosecutors.