Man charged in wife's 'cold medicine murder' 'obsessed' with 'American Psycho' movie: Police

He told a 911 dispatcher he killed his wife after taking too much medicine.

April 3, 2018, 6:30 PM

A man who said taking too much cold medicine may have had led him to brutally stab his wife to death was "obsessed" with the slasher movie "American Psycho," according to documents filed by investigators in the case.

On Sept. 1, 2017, police in Raleigh, North Carolina said, Matthew Phelps called 911 to report that he'd killed wife Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, 29.

"I have blood all over me and there's a bloody knife on the bed," said Matthew Phelps, an aspiring pastor. "I think I did it."

An autopsy report showed that Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps, Matthew Phelps' wife of less than a year, had suffered 123 sharp-force injuries, including wounds to her head, neck and arms.

PHOTO: An undated photo of Lauren Phelps (maiden name Hugelmaier).
An undated photo of Lauren Phelps (maiden name Hugelmaier).

In that 911 call, Matthew Phelps said: "I took Coricidin cough and cold," explaining that "a lot of times I can't sleep at night."

Investigators said they'd learned from researching social media accounts that "suspect Matthew Phelps was possibly fascinated with and mimicked a portrayed serial killer character from the movie 'American Psycho.'"

According to search warrant documents, investigators said that interviews had helped them locate an Instagram account of Matthew Phelps with the username "marty_radical."

Detectives said the account showed numerous scenes from "American Psycho," the 2000 movie that starred Christian Bale as the executive-turned-murderer Patrick Bateman. Investigators said the account also included images of Matthew Phelps dressed as Patrick Bateman.

"The movie is about a serial killer and Phelps expressed interest to a friend regarding what it would be like to kill someone," documents said.

In other search warrant documents, investigators said relatives claimed that the couple was having problems.

"Matthew Phelps was spending more money than the couple made. ... Lauren Phelps had recently taken drastic steps to limit her husband's spending," documents said. "It was also learned through friends that the couple would argue frequently."

Investigators also said Lauren Phelps was "preparing to end the relationship" and that relatives said she'd made phone calls and sent text messages hours before her death.

"Those texts indicated that she was tired of arguing with [Matthew] Phelps and may be done with the relationship," police search warrants said.

PHOTO: Matthew James Phelps, 28, is pictured in this Sept. 1, 2017 mugshot.
Matthew James Phelps, 28, is pictured in this Sept. 1, 2017 mugshot.

Bayer, the makers of Coricidin, said in a statement at the time, "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," Bayer said, adding, "There is no evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior."

Matthew Phelps, 29, is charged with one count of murder. He remains behind bars without bond, awaiting trial. He has not entered a plea, according to the Wake County Sheriff's Office. Calls to his lawyer were not answered.