Matthew Phelps and Lauren Hugelmaier were married in a picturesque ceremony last November in North Carolina. Less than a year later, Lauren was fatally stabbed in the couple’s home and Phelps was charged with her murder.
The death and subsequent arrest came as a shock to those who knew the Star Wars-loving duo, and the pair’s social media accounts portray them as a loving couple.
“Our day was the most special day of my life!” Hugelmaier wrote alongside a wedding photo shared on Instagram just days after the ceremony. “The excitement was like Christmas morning times like 10000😍I am so blessed to have this handsome man to call my HUSBAND.”
My fiancé and I met in Middle School back when I lived in Kentucky. My family moved away and 11 ish years later he finds me on Instagram where our relationship becomes the most important thing in the world to me! I am truly blessed to have this man in my life and would not change the road I had to take to find him again! Without our seperate roads we would not be the people we are today who are matched so perfectly 😉 #pardonmycrazywhiteskin #theroadtobecomingaphelps #engagementparty
The same day, Hugelmaier, a 29-year-old Sunday school teacher, gushed about living the “#wifelife” in another post. A week later, the new bride shared a sweet picture of herself and Phelps cuddling close.
“Excuse me just a moment while I goggle over this handsome husband of mine!!!😍😍 married one week😲Can’t wait for 10, 20, 50 years!!!”
But on Sept. 1 when a distraught Phelps called 911 to say that Hugelmaier had died.
“I had a dream and then I turned on the lights and she’s dead on the floor,” he said in the call, audio of which was obtained by PEOPLE. He then described a grisly scene: “I have blood all over me and there’s a bloody knife on the bed and I think I did it. I can’t believe this.”
Authorities arrived soon after Phelps’ call to find Lauren’s body as he described. The 28-year-old was arrested later that same day and charged with first-degree murder.
A neighbor later told PEOPLE that Phelps and Hugelmaier seemed like an “ordinary couple.”
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“They were just a young couple starting out. They just got married. I would never have thought this would happen,” Richard Drayton said.
Drayton, who lived next door to the couple, told PEOPLE that Hugelmaier lived at the Raleigh townhouse first and Phelps moved in after they wed.
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He recalled the pair returning home after their honeymoon, with their car decorated “like they just got married.”
One photo from their wedding showed the pair facing off with lightsabers at the reception.
“My year has been amazing and couldn’t have asked for better memories! Marrying my Prince Charming, time with my nephews and family, purchasing a family car for our future babies🙏🏼and so much more!!!” Hugelmaier captioned a collage photo post in January on Instagram.
“Can’t wait to see what new memories are made in 2017❤️ Thank you to all my followers and friends I have made on here for being so sweet and supportive!
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Phelps, who studied evangelism at Kentucky’s Clear Creek Baptist College, has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at the Wake County Detention Center in North Carolina.
He told the dispatcher that he could not recall the events of the night, adding that he had taken Coricidin Cough and Cold, an over-the-counter medication. “I took more medicine than I should have,” he said on the 911 call.
In the aftermath of the slaying, Hugelmaier’s family is struggling to come to terms with the death of a woman remembered as “sweet” and kind-hearted.
A family member told PEOPLE, “We’re just trying to deal with a lot of different emotions.”