YORK COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A Lake Wylie woman accused of fatally poisoning her husband with eye drops pleaded guilty in court Thursday.
Lana Clayton, 52, tearfully pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and tampering with human food in the 2018 death of her husband, Stephen Clayton. Clayton was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Stephen Clayton was found dead in the couple’s Clover home on Island Forks Road in July 2018. Lana Clayton was arrested in her husband’s death and charged with murder and tampering with human food. Arrest warrants allege she poisoned her husband’s water with eye drops between July 19 and July 21.
“The coroner found a level of tetrahydrosaline in his system and that’s when we opened the case because that was very unusual for us,” Public Information Officer Trent Faris said.
The original call about Stephen Clayton’s death came on July 21 when Lana says she found him face down in the foyer, according to an incident report.
The report states she told investigators her husband had been suffering from vertigo, and was at home sick for several days. She says she went outside to mow the lawn and he was on the floor when she returned.
After her arrest, she admitted to investigators she poisoned his water.
York County Sheriff’s Office records show this was not the first time deputies responded to the home. In 2016, they were called to the Clayton’s home at 1 a.m on May 30.
The report states that Lana was trying to load a cross bow, but was having difficulty with it. She told investigators that she picked up the cross bow and it accidentally went off, hitting her husband in the back of the head. The wound was bleeding, but he was okay.
“Mr. Clayton advised that he was fine and the incident was accidental,” the report states. “He told him he did not believe she was trying to kill him, but she has problems sleeping at night and sleep walks.”
In the report, deputies say Lana told them her husband is mentally abusive to her.
“She advised that he has mood swings and one moment he is nice to her and the next moment he can be cruel towards her,” the report stated. “She states that he rants and berates her but has never hit her.”
The incident was ruled accidental.
Deputies responded to their home a third time. This incident happened on August 30, 2018. It was after Stephen Clayton was found dead, but one day before Lana Clayton was arrested for his murder.
An incident report states neighbors saw Lana distraught and asked if they could watch her dogs.
The same neighbors say they found suicidal notes from Lana. They called detectives, and responding officers say when they tried to enter the house they immediately smelled natural gas.
“We tried to look around the house but we could not breath to do a full search of the home,” The incident report said. “On the back deck there were several suicidal notes on the table.”
Firefighters arrived and found Clayton on her bed. They say she was unconscious, but alive.
One day later, she was arrested for her husband’s murder.