4 Times Brutal Killings Have Been Blamed On Taking Too Much Cough Medicine

One dad murdered his estranged wife and kids, using a diffferent knife for each killing. 

By Gina Tron

By now, most people have read about Matthew Phelps: An aspiring pastor in North Carolina who allegedly killed his wife while high on cough syrup earlier this month. Matthew James Phelps, 29, had called police, stating he had a dream and woke up to his brutally murdered wife, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. "There’s blood all over me, and there’s a bloody knife on the bed. I think I did it,” he told police.

Lauren Ashley-Nicole Phelps, 29, was found fatally stabbed at the townhouse where they both lived. The two had been married less than a year.

Phelps appeared in court on September 5, but he did not enter a plea deal. "There's a lot more to this story," Phelps' Attorney Joseph Cheshire told the court

This case isn’t the first in which fingers were pointed at cold medicine after a killing, though.

Here are four others:

1. Louis Chen

In 2011, a Seattle doctor murdered his partner and his 2-year-old son.

According to the Washington Post,  Louis Chen, an endocrinologist, didn’t show up for his first day of work at Virginia Mason Medical Center. When a hospital worker checked on him by going to his penthouse, he found a naked Chen covered in dried blood. He had brutally stabbed his partner, 29-year-old Eric Cooper who suffered wounds in his face, neck and body. Chen cut the throat of his 2-year-old son, Cooper, from ear to ear, according to court documents.

Chen’s attorneys argued that Chen had suffered a cough-syrup induced psychosis after consuming various over-the-counter cough medicines.

Chen pleaded guilty in 2016 to first- and second-degree murder and was sentenced to 49 years in prison.

2. James McVay

In 2012, James McVay killed a South Dakota hospice nurse as part of a larger plot to assassinate President Barack Obama. He stabbed 75-year-old Maybelle Schein to death while intoxicated by alcohol and cough syrup.

McVay, who had a history of mental illness, then stole the nurse’s car in an attempt to drive to Washington D.C. and kill the then-president.

According to CBS News, his public defender argued that the cough syrup he consumed can cause hallucinations. McVay said he saw spiritual entities the night of the murder, telling him to kill. He pleaded guilty but mentally ill, and he was sentenced to death for the crime. He hanged himself in prison in 2014.

[NBC 15]

3. Shane Tilley

A man in Nebraska was found not responsible by reason of insanity for killing a man on Super Bowl Sunday in 2006 while high on cough medicine. Shane Tilley stabbed Andy Lubben in Tilley’s apartment around noon that day, before following Lubben outside to keep stabbing him. When police arrived at Tilley’s home, he was naked and covered in self-inflicted wounds, according to the Lincoln Journal.

[Nebraska Department of Corrections]

4. Andre Thomas

Texan Andre Thomas murdered his estranged wife and their two young children, a 4-year-old son, and a 13-month-old daughter. He used a different knife to kill each member of his family, as to not "cross contaminate" their blood and "allow the demons inside them to live."

He cut out his children's hearts and a piece of his wife's lung. Then, while in custody, he gouged out both of his eyeballs before eating one of them. He is currently blind, and awaiting execution.

During his 2005 murder trial, the prosecution’s doctor-experts testified that Thomas’ killings may have been triggered by cough medicine. According to Mother Jones, he had overdosed multiple times on cough syrup around the time of the brutal killings.

[Featured Photo: Raleigh Police Department]

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