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Man appears in court in alleged machete attack on his wife

A Vancouver man is accused of attacking his wife early Saturday morning with a machete — severing three of her fingers, fracturing her skull and potentially leaving her blind in one eye — after the woman told him she wanted to end their relationship.

Samuel L. Laughlin, 28, appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree malicious mischief, all domestic violence-related. Judge John Fairgrieve set his bail at $1 million. Laughlin, who has no prior criminal history, will be arraigned June 21.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Laughlin and his wife, Meghan Moss, 28, married in 2010 but have been having marital issues lately. On Friday, Moss went out with a friend and told Laughlin she’d call him at midnight if she wasn’t home by then. She forgot to call, though, and Laughlin started texting her two minutes later accusing her of cheating on him.

Laughlin told Moss to “answer your phone or I’m coming down there, and I’m going to murder (the friend) for holding you captive,” the affidavit reads.

Moss called Laughlin, and they started to argue. He continued to accuse her of infidelity, despite her denials. An enraged Laughlin then used a machete to destroy Moss’ computer and a flat screen television in their bedroom, court records say.

Laughlin told Moss she needed to come home and take care of their kids, implying he was leaving the house. He brought the machete downstairs and left it on a chair in the living room. He then went outside and waited for Moss to return, according to court documents.

When Moss came home, Laughlin told her to sit on the couch so they could talk. They started to argue again, however, and Moss told Laughlin she wanted to end their relationship. Laughlin then grabbed the machete and struck Moss’ hand, severing three fingers and breaking another. He struck her in the face, fracturing her orbital bone, and struck her a third time fracturing her skull and cutting her shoulder, the affidavit says.

“The blade of the machete was sharp enough to cut (Moss’) hair as he swung, leaving a pile of hair reminiscent of a salon floor after a haircut,” an officer wrote in the affidavit.

Laughlin stopped striking Moss with the machete and began to cry, repeatedly saying “no.” She told him to call 911. Laughlin told dispatchers, “My wife is dying. Hurry. She got hit with a machete!” He then hung up and told Moss he was sorry. Laughlin didn’t provide medical aid, according to court documents. The couple’s 6-month-old daughter and 6-year-old son were upstairs during the attack.

“When officers arrived on scene, they described her as pale, bloody from her head to her feet and surrounded by a pool of blood,” the affidavit reads.

Laughlin came outside and told officers he attacked his wife with a machete, court records state.

“The (probable cause affidavit) paints a pretty troubling picture,” Deputy Prosecutor Luka Vitasovic said during Laughlin’s court appearance. Vitasovic added that in instances of domestic violence people often hear the adage, “If I can’t have you, nobody will.”


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