Is it possible for sleepwalkers to commit murder?

If you know sleepwalking people, then you know that although they seem to be awake and, depending on the case, even interact with others and perform complex activities such as leaving home and even driving vehicles, they are not aware of what they are doing. By the way, if you ever tried to talk to someone during a sleepwalking episode, you may have seen some very strange behavior.

In addition, sleepwalkers can react irrationally and violently when someone tries to arouse them. After all, they may be experiencing a nightmare, and therefore, in certain circumstances, we cannot rule out the possibility that they might inadvertently attack family and friends by confusing these people with the characters of their dreams. But, and killing someone while sleeping is that possible?

There are cases of sleepwalkers who committed murders, and some of them got out of jail after being shown to have no intention of killing or even aware of what they were doing. Today I Found Out has published an article about these individuals, and you can check out the story of three of them:

1 - Albert Tirrell

The case took place in the United States in 1845, and Tirrell became the protagonist of one of the first murder cases committed during a reported sleepwalking episode. It all happened when Tirrell's mistress Mary Ann Bickford was found dead - with a gash in her throat that was over six inches long and three inches deep, one of her ears cut off and her body burned - in the boarding house where she lived.

Tirrell was married and their relationship was very troubled. However, although he tried to escape the city - Boston - on an earlier charge of adultery, Tirrell's own brother-in-law told authorities that he seemed surprised to learn of Mary's death. The defense lawyer relied on several examples and relatives' testimony about Tirrell's sleepwalking record to free him from prison.

2 - Jules Lowe

Jules, 32, lived with Edward - his 83-year-old father - in Manchester, England and, according to neighbors, the two had a good relationship. However, after having had a drink one night, Jules woke up the next day to find his father lying in the driveway. Lowe had a serious episode of sleepwalking and beat Edward to death, and investigators discovered 90 injuries to the body.

Jules was able to prove that he had no memory of what had happened the night he killed his father, and the jury found him not guilty of the crime. However, the sleepwalker was arrested by hospital order and found insane.

3 - Kenneth Parks

On the eve of a family event, Kenneth Parks, who had fallen asleep in the family room, stood abruptly, put on his coat, and drove off. The Canadian then traveled more than 20 kilometers to his in-laws residence, where the meeting was supposed to take place. There the sleepwalker nearly strangled Donald the father-in-law and killed Barbara - his mother-in-law - after beating and stabbing her several times.

In the attack, Kenneth broke the flexor tendons of all fingers and was spotted by the teenage sister-in-law - who still lived with the couple - grunting like an animal. Later, after waking up, the sleepwalker reported to the police that he believed he had killed someone. According to testimonies, Kenneth got along well with his in-laws and had no reason to hurt anyone. He was acquitted of the murder charge.


It is noteworthy that the above cases are exceptions, since there are records of sleepwalkers who committed crimes while sleeping and were convicted nonetheless. Thus, experts point out that some situations should be avoided to prevent episodes, such as emotional and physical stress, long periods of time without sleep and consumption of alcohol, sleep aids and other drugs.

But if you have to deal with a sleepwalker, though that story that we can't wake a person in this state is a myth, never do it to the rattlesnakes! However, you should first try to guide him - calmly and gently - back to bed and stay close to prevent him from getting hurt. And if you have to wake the sleeper, do it through loud noises.

* Posted on 6/24/2014