Blood smeared on her arms and legs, the young woman cried over the man she called the love of her life as he lay motionless on the floor of their luxury apartment in Mount Pleasant.
“It was a complete accident,” Madisen Rene Stroupe, 19, said into a cellphone as she pleaded with her boyfriend to wake up. “Complete accident.”
The call that Stroupe placed to 911 dispatchers a month ago and supplemental police reports released last week lay out what happened before and after her boyfriend, Chad Alexander Fern, 20, was fatally stabbed. But the information does little to explain Stroupe’s account that the killing was accidental or why the police contend that Fern’s death was a calculated slaying.
Stroupe remained in jail last week without bail. She faces charges of murder and possessing a firearm during a violent crime. If convicted of both counts, she would face between 35 years to life in prison.
Her attorney, Christopher Adams of Charleston, said the facts of the homicide would come out in court, and he declined to further discuss the case.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson cited ethical concerns in saying that neither she nor Assistant Solicitor Jennifer Shealy, who is prosecuting the case, would comment about the evidence that went into the charges.
None of the documents or Stroupe’s 911 call indicated a situation in which she felt threatened and acted in self-defense when she stabbed Fern once in the chest with a pink knife at The Boulevard apartments off Coleman Boulevard. Instead, they portray a woman fighting depression who took prescription medication, smoked marijuana and drank alcohol before the fatal episode on April 6.
Fern moved from the Princeton, N.J., area to live in the Lowcountry.
Stroupe came from Hilton Head and lived in the newly built apartment. Her father paid the rent. She was a student at the College of Charleston during the past fall semester, but she didn’t enroll this spring, school spokesman Mike Robertson said.
Fern did not attend the college.
The two had been dating for about 16 months, Stroupe would later tell the police.
A picture she had posted on her Facebook page showed the couple smiling as sunshine lit their faces. They’re standing on a dock in another image. One more photograph features the duo sitting at a restaurant table.
But Stroupe struggled with bipolar disorder, the police documents stated. She took prescribed medication. She often felt sad and suicidal. She had tried to cut herself in recent days. Her mother had told her that she had problems and she needed to work on them, the reports added.
She also didn’t have a good relationship with Fern’s father because he thought that Fern had made a bad choice in dating Stroupe, she told the police.
Reached by The Post and Courier, the father declined to comment.
On the last day of his short life, a Monday, Fern goaded his girlfriend out of bed. That wasn’t a bad thing, Stroupe later said; he was just trying to help her.
They went to the beach, and it turned out to be a good day for Stroupe.
But, Stroupe later told the police, she sometimes had mood swings. She also mentioned that she had missed her medication a few days earlier and that she and her boyfriend sometimes took pills that were not prescribed to them. Fern had anxiety issues, she told investigators.
By the time Stroupe and Fern sat together on their couch, the effects of the marijuana she had smoked and the Klonopin, a pill for panic attacks she had taken earlier in the day, had worn off, according to her account.
She felt like she had an alcohol “buzz,” but she wasn’t drunk.
It was just before 11 p.m., and Stroupe was still wearing her bikini. She and Fern listened to music playing on a computer and thumping through some wireless speakers. Fern was drinking, too, the reports stated.
She and her boyfriend had gotten into an argument earlier in the day, according to arrest affidavits, but she couldn’t recall during police questioning how she got into a fight with Fern or how it escalated.
She couldn’t remember herself going to the kitchen and picking up the knife.
But she couldn’t imagine ever trying to hurt Fern, she later told the police.
Despite her spotty recollection, the police said they got a good idea from Stroupe about what happened next. But the documents also did not describe the stabbing in great detail.
Fern dropped to the floor. Ice cubes scattered around him.
Stroupe used his cellphone to dial 911. Frantic, she cried during the call as she repeated Fern’s name: “Chad! Chad! Chad!”
“I stabbed him,” she said. “I stabbed him, my boyfriend ... on accident.”
Stroupe told the dispatcher that Fern was taking occasional deep breaths, but he wouldn’t respond to her attempts to wake him.
“They’re coming,” she told him. “I love you.”
She had left the knife on the counter, she said into the phone. But minutes later, when the dispatcher asked again about the weapon, Stroupe said she didn’t know where it was.
“I promise,” she said. “I don’t know.”
The dispatcher gave her instructions on how to do CPR nearly 11 minutes into the call, moments before officers arrived.
“Oh my God,” she said. “He’s the love of my life.”
The officers ushered Stroupe out of the apartment. They found the knife.
Paramedics soon arrived. They found a wound in Fern’s chest but no other injuries. He was already dead, but the authorities didn’t tell Stroupe.
With dried blood on her hands, forearm, right leg and feet, Stroupe said things that didn’t make sense, the police reports stated.
The police took her to their headquarters, dressed her in some hospital scrubs and put her in an interview room, where she learned of Fern’s death. She didn’t want to be left alone in the room, she told them.
“This is the (stuff) that happens,” she told the detectives. “I’m so (expletive) mad at myself.”
She felt like she had destroyed her life and her family with a mistake that unfolded in just one second.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.