Reginald Dunlap was sentenced to 55 years in prison Friday for the brutal murder of his wife in 2021. Credit: Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office

Reginald Dunlap, 45, of Silver Spring was sentenced Friday to 55 years in prison for brutally killing his wife, Lauren Charles, 40, in March 2021, according to a release from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Circuit Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer sentenced Dunlap to life in prison but suspended all but 55 years to serve; she also sentenced him to five years of supervised probation upon release, the release said.

On March 10, a jury had found Dunlap guilty of first-degree murder.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said the trial was conducted years after the incident because of COVID-19 delays.

John Charles, Lauren Charles’ father, said that the murder conviction and the sentencing gave him closure on his daughter’s death in 2021.

“For me, the closure was the conviction. This is the appendix to the closure,” said John Charles, in a video a press conference after the sentencing hearing.


On March 7, 2021, Dunlap called 911 and said he found his wife dead after he returned home from church. Montgomery County Police responded to the scene and immediately noticed the smell of bleach, according to District Court documents.

Police located Charles in the master bedroom of the home, surrounded by blood on the floor, walls, door, dresser drawers and bed frame. There was an empty bleach bottle found next to her, and police suspected that bleach was poured onto the body due to injuries. The bedroom was ransacked, with the bed tipped over and the dresser drawers pulled out, the court document said.

This was to stage it as a crime scene, the news release said.


In a video of the press conference, McCarthy said that Dunlap is a “dangerous, calculated individual.”

The court documents said that Dunlap told police that the last time he had seen his wife was at 1 a.m. the night before. He stated that he ate breakfast, walked his dog and went to church the next morning.  He was at church from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. He said that when he arrived home, he changed in the upstairs bedroom and when he went downstairs to check on Lauren Charles, he found her already deceased, according to court documents.

The State’s Attorney’s Office said that Charles was “asphyxiated due to a pillowcase forced down her throat and was beaten to death” and “a decorative Buddha statue is believed to have been the murder weapon.”


The court documents said that Dunlap “was the only person in the home, and he cannot provide any other explanation of what could’ve happened to Charles.”

Dunlap said that he and his wife had been sleeping in different bedrooms and possibly separating, but he did not want to separate, according to court documents.

Lauren Charles with her father John Charles. Credit: Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office

McCarthy said that the loss of Lauren Charles has left a large hole in her community.


“She was a wonderful, vibrant, critical part of both this community and the loving people that gathered with me this morning,” McCarthy said.

John Charles said he felt lucky to have both blood family and chosen family with him at the sentencing. He said there is such a big community of support because Lauren was “a wonderful daughter” who “empowered love within everyone she touched.”

“Lauren is living within us. She’s still with us. She has an essence that will never disappear,” John Charles said.


Dunlap’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.