Man who stabbed wife 123 times while high on cold medicine was a fan of 'American Psycho'; victim's dad says he had planned the murder from day one
Matthew Phelps pled guilty to first-degree murder over the stabbing death of his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole
The family of the woman who died after she was stabbed 123 times by her husband, an aspiring pastor, has come out to narrate their horror and said that he had planned on killing her from the day they met. Earlier this month, 29-year-old Matthew Phelps pled guilty to first-degree murder for the death of his 29-year-old wife Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps in September 2017 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Daily Mail reports that the murder took place on September 1 last year at the couple's two-bedroom home in Raleigh, North Carolina. In a 911 call Phelps made at the time, he was heard saying, "I have blood all over me and there's a bloody knife on my bed, and I think I did it. I can't believe this."
He also appears to blame the act on "Coricidin cough and cold," explaining that "a lot of times I can't sleep at night" and that after having taken a heavy dose of the medicine, he woke up and discovered that he had accidentally killed his wife.
Speaking out about the incident, Lauren's family insists that Phelps had planned the murder from the very beginning. "He planned the whole thing from the get-go in my opinion, right from day one to the end," said Lauren's father, Dale Hughmaier, to 'Good Morning America' in an interview. "The last time I saw my daughter, she came over looking for a three-ring binder. She was nervous and a little edgy and it didn't look like Lauren at all... She looked like a mess."
Dale's theory is backed up by evidence discovered by law enforcement. According to ABC, investigators had stated in search warrant documents that Phelps' social media accounts suggested he was fascinated with and mimicked Patrick Bateman, Christian Bale's executive-turned-murderer from 2000 drama/slasher film 'American Psycho'.
Phelps reportedly had an Instagram account with the handle 'marty_radical' which had posts about various scenes from the movie, as well as images of the 29-year-old 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 stated.
Her family also told 'Good Morning America' that Lauren had been subjected to emotional and physical abuse during her 10-month marriage with Phelps and that she was too frightened to tell anyone about it. Dale said he still thinks about "what I did wrong and what I missed every day" and that " Till this day I just regret not knowing or keeping my eyes open and watching."
Authorities said that Phelps's poor financial sense was a constant source of tension between him and Lauren. Phelps, who worked for a lawn service, was allegedly "spending more money than the couple made" and Lauren, a church youth group leader, had reportedly "recently taken drastic steps to limit her husband's spending."
But ultimately, it may have been her plans to leave Phelps that triggered the murder. Documents say Lauren was preparing to end her relationship with the 29-year-old, with sister Beth Agner saying that she had talked on the phone with Lauren just a few hours before she died. She had told Beth about how she had argued with Phelps about his cheating and Beth added that her sister decided to end things once and for all on the night Phelps killed her.
During his sentencing, Phelps apologized and pointed to "drinking, drugs, and carelessness" as an explanation for his actions.
"This was a senseless, mindless act and I regret every step that led me in that direction," he said. "I feel like a monster, one of the wretched, a part of the darkness we don't speak of. That darkness consumed me until I was blind to the path I had taken and deaf to my own cries for help." He also apologized to his wife's family and said, "I'm sorry that I took away Lauren's life."
WRAL reported that Phelps was spared the death penalty after prosecutors promised not to seek it if he pleaded guilty. Defense attorney Joe Cheshire said that his client suffered from depression for years and had learned to abuse drugs, including cold medicine, by high school peers. However, he said the murder was "an unending tragedy that has broken everyone's heart who touched it."