CBS’ ’48 Hours: The Eye Drop Homicide,’ as the title suggests, is an episode that chronicles a murder like no other. On July 21, 2018, 64-year-old Steven Clayton, a retired millionaire, was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in his waterfront mansion in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, by his wife, Lana. His passing, she told deputies, came just after he spent three days being bedridden due to a nasty bout with vertigo. However, as it soon came out, Lana was the one who killed him by poisoning his drinks with eye drops. So now, let’s find out more about her, shall we?
Who is Lana Clayton?
Lana Sue Clayton, a then-52-year-old nurse, had been married to the former Florida businessman for about five years when she found his body in the home they’d shared. According to investigators, she responded to all their questions and went along with whatever they asked of her, so they never thought she had anything to hide. With no suspects, they thus believed the coroner’s initial report of Steven most likely having succumbed to a natural heart attack. But Steven’s nephews weren’t convinced. They found it weird that Lana never tried to revive her husband and demanded a cremation as soon as possible.
Therefore, when one of them asked Lana if they could see Steven’s will to check for burial wishes, and she responded with something like, “there is no will,” they called the coroner’s office and asked for an autopsy and toxicology test. With that came the revelation of Steven having toxins found in eye drops in his system. At first, when asked about it, Lana told officers that her husband liked to put a few drops of Visine in his coffee every morning to help his bathroom cycle. But eventually, she confessed to spiking his drinks herself, having switched to a deadly dose on July 19, 2018.
Where is Lana Clayton Now?
When Lana Clayton went to court for murder, she said her motive was to stop her husband from abusing her, saying that he “hit her, kicked her and choked her” throughout the five years they’d been married. “I allowed these emotions to make me do something in a matter of seconds that I will forever regret,” she said, addressing 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. I was upset about the abuse and just wanted him to leave me alone.” However, the prosecutors claimed that her motive was simply greed.
Rebutting all of Lana’s statements, the prosecutors said they looked into her abuse claims and found no evidence of it. Instead, they found a 2016 incident where Lana shot her husband with a crossbow while he slept. While both parties agreed that it was an accident at the time, it did raise questions about Lana’s intentions. The prosecutors maintained that Lana poisoned Steven on purpose, burned his will, and threw his cell away so that he couldn’t call for help. The defense, though, alleged that Lana had PTSD from having been sexually assaulted twice before and that Steven’s actions triggered her.
In the end, in January 2020, Lana Sue Clayton pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and tampering with food or drugs. Therefore, instead of receiving a sentence that goes hand-in-hand with her initial charge of first-degree murder – life in prison or the death penalty – Lana got a much more lenient sentence of 25 years in prison. In other words, the 54-year-old is currently serving out her sentence at the women’s-only Leath Correctional Institution in Greenwood County, South Carolina. As per her Department of Corrections records, Lana will only be eligible for release on November 24, 2039.
Read More: How Did Steven Clayton Die?