Steve Clayton: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

Image Credit: James Seidelman/Find a Grave

When 64-year-old Steve Clayton was found dead on the foot of his house’s stairs in 2018, the entire community was shocked to its core while his loved ones were left heartbroken. As the police dug deeper into the case, some disturbing truths were uncovered. All these details are covered in the episode titled ‘The Eye Drop Homicide’ on CBS’ ’48 Hours,’ including the investigation surrounding the case. Moreover, with the help of a few loved ones’ exclusive interviews, viewers get an insightful overview of Steve’s murder and its impact on the lives of his family and friends.

Steve Clayton Was Found Dead at the Bottom of His House’s Staircase

Welcomed into the world by Raul DelValle Clayton on May 1, 1954, in Miami, Florida, Steven DelValle Clayton grew up in a seemingly loving household alongside his sister Rosie. Spending his formative years in Hialeah and Miami Springs, he went to Miami Military Academy and Miami Springs Senior High School, where he was famous for being an athlete in football, track, and Greco-Roman wrestling. For higher studies, he joined Florida State University and juggled being a construction laborer/plasterer with his studies.

Image Credit: Caution/Find a Grave

His professional career started with him working in Finance for Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After gaining enough experience, he founded Physical Therapy Resources, a national company that targeted sports injuries and had several branches nationwide. In 1995, he officially retired and pursued his passion for traveling the world. Being passionate about learning and open to improving, he strived to achieve more levels of success while assisting others through mentoring, pro-bono consulting, and philanthropy. In his free time, he indulged in music, wine, cigars, and sports like golf.

While everything on the professional front was smooth, the same could not be said about his personal life. By 2013, the 59-year-old man had been married and divorced six times. He crossed paths with Lana Sue Clayton, an Oklahoma native who worked as a nurse, online. After spending a few years getting to know each other, they got married in 2013 and moved into their home in Lake Wylie. On July 21, 2018, everything appeared to be fine with the Claytons, but when Lana returned home after spending two hours working the yard, she found her husband dead at the bottom of the staircase of their Lake Wylie home.

As the police rushed to the crime scene, they inspected the crime scene and the rest of the house in search of evidence. When the autopsy and toxicology test results came in, the authorities found out that Steve’s blood contained a chemical called tetrahydrozoline, which is usually found in eye drops. It steered the investigation into an entirely new direction as his death had become highly suspicious after the revelation.

Steve Clayton Was Poisoned to Death By a Loved One

When the detectives began interrogating Steve Clayton’s family and friends, some dark truths about his marriage with Lana Clayton came out in the open. Although the couple appeared to be happy and in love on the outside, there were claims that it was all just a façade. For instance, in 2016, an unusual incident occurred in their bedroom as Lana accidentally shot her husband in the head with a crossbow while he was asleep. Fortunately, his injury was not fatal, and no charges were filed.

The police also learned that just a couple of months before his tragic demise, Steve told his nephew Kris Phagan that their marriage was on the brink of breaking up. As per his wife, Lana, Steve had been suffering from vertigo for three continuous days before his death and was bedridden for two days. She claimed that on the fateful day, she checked on her husband around 11 am, and after finding him asleep, she headed outside to work on the lawn. Although the initial reports ruled that Steve had died from a heart attack, one of his nephews, Nick French, who was a police officer, found Lana’s reaction to his death quite odd and suspicious.

He noticed that Lana “made no mention of attempting to revive him. And Steve always had his phone with him. We were not able to find Steve’s phone anywhere.” Sooner rather than later, Lana confessed to emptying a bottle of eye drops into Steve’s water. But at the same time, she also claimed that he had been verbally and physically abusing her, which is what made her want to make him suffer. After her admission to the crime, the investigators prepared an arrest warrant for her. Meanwhile, Lana attempted to die by suicide by taking some pills and turning the gas on. She even left notes where she wrote about the guilt she felt about poisoning her husband.

Fortunately, a neighbor went to the mansion and called for assistance. A little over a month after Steve’s death, on August 31, 2018, Lana Clayton was arrested and formally charged with the murder of her husband. During her trial, prosecutors claimed that she poisoned Steve with tetrahydrozoline for three days before it caused him to die. In her defense, the accused claimed that she did not mean to kill him; she only wanted to get back at him for being abusive. In January 2020, Lana Clayton pled guilty to tampering with food and drugs and voluntary manslaughter.

In a statement to Steve’s family, she said, “I would like to apologize to Steven’s family. I did impulsively put the Visine in Steven’s drink and I did it with the intent to make him sick and uncomfortable.” Meanwhile, her defense painted her to be the victim of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), which was the result of the sexual abuse she faced in her traumatic past. On January 16, 2020, considering the arguments of the prosecutors and the defense, the court sentenced Lana Clayton to 25 years in prison.

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