A Colorado man is accused of murdering his wife on New Year’s Eve, hours after he was freed from jail on domestic assault charges, according to law enforcement.
Damon Lamont Mathews, 44, allegedly killed his wife Rachel Phillips in Ignacio, Colorado on Dec. 31, the Durango Herald reported. Days before the murder, Matthews was released from jail on domestic violence charges. At the time of her death, Phillips had an active protection order against her estranged spouse.
Authorities found the woman’s body at her home on Jan. 1. Matthews was arrested in the Denver area shortly afterward. He allegedly confessed to Phillips' murder while in custody, telling investigators the couple had gotten into a heated dispute on New Year’s Eve.
“Damon said he knew if the police came, he would go to jail again because of the protection order and because he was on bond for the previous domestic violence with Rachel,” authorities stated in an affidavit obtained by the Durango Herald.
Matthews allegedly admitted to strangling his wife and then shooting her once in the head with a nine millimeter pistol. He then drove to Denver and got high on methamphetamine, authorities said. His car later blew a tire and he called 911.
The 44-year-old has been arrested twice for allegedly assaulting his wife. On Nov. 24, Matthews was arrested on third-degree assault and domestic violence charges against Phillips. His wife suffered a cut above her left eye and other bruises in the alleged attack. Matthews posted a $1,500 bail and was freed on Christmas Day, according to the Durango Herald.
“Rachel stated she was in fear of Damon, and was afraid of what he may do if she reported the incident to law enforcement,” the affidavit stated.
Phillips’ son said the couple had become estranged in recent years.
“No one even thought she’d get hurt,” Issiah Harrison told the Durango Herald. “It’s still a shock to everyone. She didn’t deserve this.”
Phillips worked as a massage therapist in La Plata County. One family friend described her as “one of the kindest, sweetest people on the planet.”
“This family has been through a lot,” Bernadette Dickinson told the Durango Herald. “Rachel was an angel.”
Matthews is due back in court on Jan. 21 to face earlier domestic violence charges. He’s being held without bond, according to CBS Denver.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.