‘I think I did it’: Man says he killed wife in his sleep after drinking cough medicine

Posted at 7:42 PM, Sep 07, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. – The male voice on the 911 call sounded flat and slightly confused.

"I think I killed my (wife)," the caller said.

"What do you mean? What happened?" the operator said.

"I had a dream, and then I turned on the lights and she's dead on the floor," he said. "I have blood all over me, and there's a bloody knife on the bed. And I think I did it."

The caller, identified by police as Matthew James Phelps, grew increasingly distraught as he explained that he had taken Coricidin Cough and Cold medicine and awakened to the bloody scene.

"Oh my God," he said, crying. "Why?"

Phelps, 28, has been charged with murder in the September 1 stabbing death of Lauren Ashley-Nicole Phelps, 29, in North Carolina, the Raleigh Police Department said.

Phelps appeared in court on Wednesday and no bond was issued, according to the Wake County Clerk of Court's Office. He could face the death penalty if convicted. His next court appearance is set for September 25.

Joe Cheshire, an attorney for Phelps, said it was a "very tragic" situation but asked that people withhold judgment.

"There's a lot to this story, I believe that will be told in the future," Cheshire said. "But I don't want anything I say to diminish the sadness and sorrow that everyone feels for the death of this lovely young lady."

Cough medicine

In the 911 call, Phelps said he didn't know what time it was or when he had woken up. He said he took "more medicine than I should have" and woke up to the grisly scene.

"I know it can make you feel good, and a lot of times I can't sleep at night, so I took some," he said.

Cough medicines like Coricidin target symptoms of the common cold, and can also cause drowsiness. When abused or taken in high doses, the cough medicine ingredient Dextromethorphan can cause hallucinogenic effects, including "sensations of physical distortion and hallucinations," according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Bayer, the maker of Coricidin, released a statement extending its "deepest sympathies" to the family.

"Patient safety is our top priority, and we continually monitor adverse events regarding all of our products," the company said. "There is no evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior."