A jury found Reginald Dunlap of Silver Spring guilty for murdering his wife Lauren Charles. (Left to right) Lauren's friend, Besrat Gebrewold, and father, John Charles, Jr., Special Victims Division, Assistant State’s Attorney Debbie Feinstein, State’s Attorney John McCarthy, Assistant State’s Attorney Sheila Bagheri. Credit: Akira Kyles

When Lauren Charles realized her emotionally abusive husband was cheating on her with multiple women, she sought to leave their marriage.

Instead, Reginald Dunlap, 45, asphyxiated and beat her to death with a Buddha statue, attended a church service and returned to their Silver Spring home before calling police to report he had found Charles, 40, murdered, according to Montgomery County prosecutors.

Last week, a jury in Circuit Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer’s courtroom convicted Dunlap of murdering Charles in March 2021. Prosecutors say they will request a life sentence.

Though Dunlap won’t be sentenced until July, members of Charles’ family said Monday they believe justice is being served.

“We’re doing what we can possibly do on this Earth,” said John Charles Jr., Lauren’s father. “God gave us the ability to hold somebody accountable for the things that they did wrong on this Earth. He told us that if you do it wrong and you’re held accountable here, you’ll be held accountable in the afterlife as well.”

On March 7, 2021, Dunlap called police after returning home from church to say that he found his wife had been murdered while he was out. When the police arrived at the couple’s Silver Spring house, they were immediately overwhelmed by a strong aroma of bleach, according to police documents.


Dunlap was investigated and charged with Charles’ murder.

All her life, Lauren Charles had spread love and unity to those around her, her father recalled. “She had the ability to love, and that’s what she based her life on,” John Charles Jr. said.

The many family members and friends who attended the trial filled the courtroom with Lauren Charles’ love, he said.


“Lauren was a beautiful girl, was a beautiful woman,” he said. “The love that was displayed in the courtroom was evident of the love that she shared—the love that she was able to illustrate to all of her friends. There were over 32 people who were constantly showing up to support her and the conviction of Reginald Dunlap.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Debbie Feinstein prosecuted the case along with Assistant State’s Attorney Sheila Bagheri. Feinstein said prosecutors would be requesting a life sentence.

“The sentence is life on a murder charge,” she said. “The question is how we structure our ask and that hasn’t been determined yet. …Based on the brutality of this case, life is the appropriate sentence.”


According to Feinstein, although Dunlap did not have a history of physical abuse with Charles, he was abusive in other ways.

“Prior to that night, there had been no history of violence,” she said. “There had been emotional abuse, financial abuse, verbal abuse, gaslighting. He would convince her of things that didn’t happen. He would convince her that he was the one that she needed to be with, that no one else would love her. He convinced her to stay with him.”

State’s Attorney John McCarthy said that Lauren Charles wanted out of the marriage, and she made it clear to family and friends that she was going to leave Dunlap.


“It became obvious to Mrs. Charles that her husband was cheating,” he said. “He was involved with a number of other women. Those women began to call the house; those women were deceived by the defendant; they were lied to by the defendant. They had no idea that they were becoming involved with a married man. Mrs. Charles made the decision that she wanted out of the marriage when she realized what was happening.”

John Charles said he could only describe his daughter’s killer as evil.

“Reginald Dunlap is a predator,” he said. “He had nothing inside of him but evil; he was an emissary of the devil. There is no doubt in my mind. He was a predator.”


Dunlap will be sentenced July 7. John Charles said he has the day marked on his calendar.

Still, he said he tells people to be happy because “we can’t go back and change the past; we have to move forward.”

Dunlap’s attorney did not immediately respond Tuesday morning to a voice mail message requesting comment.