Everybody is familiar with sleepwalking. Most of us have probably done it at some stage in our life. It’s a fairly common occurrence, one that is usually harmless and only occurs in isolated incidents. But for some people, sleepwalking can be a terrifying thing. Some people have trouble with it every night, and so fear what they might do when they fall asleep, while for others, one bad incident is enough to change their lives. Keep reading to learn more about the Freddie Krueger that could be living inside you.
We’ll start with what is perhaps the most famous case of sleepwalking crime. Kenneth Parks is a Canadian man who began suffering insomnia in his 20s, which was brought on after he lost his job and put himself in a lot of debt as a result of his gambling addiction. On May 23rd, 1987, Parks got out of bed, drove 14 miles to his in-laws’ house, killed his mother in law and injured his father with a tire iron and a knife. After the incident, he drove himself to a police station and turned himself in. Up until this point, he had a good relationship with his in-laws, and his wife vouched for his lack of motive in the crime. The following year, he was found not guilty.
A middle-aged woman in Australia, whose name has not been released for confidentiality reasons, had serious issues with sleepwalking. While there isn’t too much information on this case, it seems that neither her nor her partner had any idea initially. But the truth soon came out, and is a lot more terrifying than your average sleepwalking case. The woman would get up, sleepwalk out of her house, and engage in sex with total strangers. This took place for several months, and the couple had no idea. Condoms were found around their house, but the reality only completely came to light when her partner woke up one night and realized she wasn’t there. After searching for her, he found her having sex with a stranger, completely asleep. Such an act posed a huge threat not only to the woman, but also to her partner. Reports say that she has been successfully treated for the condition.
Timothy Brueggeman, from Northern Wisconsin, is the only person on this list who did not have a history of sleepwalking, but rather, suffered from terrible insomnia for years. One summer, he drove his pickup truck into a tree after falling asleep at the wheel. When this incident occurred, he was prescribed the number one sleep aid in the US, known as Ambien. Although this drug has been linked to hundreds of cases of sleepwalking, its manufacturers claim that it is perfectly safe if taken correctly. In January of 2009 however, Brueggeman had a sleepwalking episode where he left his house in just his underwear. He was found dead the next day, having froze to death.
James Currens has been a sleepwalker for a long time, but his most terrifying adventure occurred when he was 77. In 1998, Curren got up and sleepwalked out of his house, cane in hand, and right into a nearby pond. At this point, he woke up chest deep in water, but was unable to get out as he had become stuck in the mud. This alone would be terrifying enough for a 77 year old, but what made the incident really frightening was that he found himself surrounded by alligators. He used his cane to keep them at bay, and began shouting for help. One of his neighbors heard him yelling, and called the police. Using lights to scare off the alligators, the police managed to free Currens, who escaped with only small cuts from falling when entering the pond.
In 2003, Edward Lowe, 83, was found dead in his garden, having been severely beaten. A neighbor spotted Edward’s body in the driveway and contacted the police, who arrested the man’s son, Jules. Jules and Edward had been out on a heavy night of drinking when the incident occurred. Jules said that his family has a long history of sleepwalking, and that his bouts were brought on by drinking. His defense was that he did kill his father, but did so in his sleep. Edward was reportedly violent when drunk, so it is possible that Jules was acting in self-defense. He was found not guilty of murder.
In a similar case, Stephen Reitz was accused of killing his girlfriend of 10 months, Eva Marie Weinfurtner, while vacationing in Catalina. Eva had a fractured skull, broken elbow, wrist and shoulder, and had her jaw broken in three places, as well as a stab wound in the neck. Reitz told police that he dreamed he was fighting off intruders when he killed his girlfriend. He also admitted that he had been drinking and using cocaine that night. In this case, Reitz was found guilty and given 25 to life.
Jan Luedecke, from Toronto, was at a party in 2005. After a heavy night of drinking, he fell asleep on a sofa. A few hours later, he was woken up by another partygoer, who he did not know, shouting and pushing him. He says he only woke up when he was pushed on the floor. Luedecke, 33, was accused of raping this woman, but he says he was asleep and did not even realize he had had sex until he went to the bathroom and found that he was wearing a condom. The courts were initially skeptical about his defense, even after hearing a testimony from Dr. Colin Sharipo, who said that this is a legitimate disorder. Perhaps the deciding factor in this case was that not one, but four of Luedecke’s ex-girlfriends testified that they had all experienced his sexsomnia first hand while they were dating.
A man was walking home at 2am in Dulwich, England, when he somehow noticed something terrifying: a girl curled up on top of an inactive crane. He called the emergency services, and only after a fireman had climbed up after her did they realize that she was asleep. This made the ordeal even more frightening, as the fireman was now afraid to wake her in case she became startled and fell. He searched her, and found the girl’s mobile phone, at which point he rang her parents. They explained that the girl, who was 15, often sleepwalked, and then rang her phone back to wake her. This woke the girl up, and she was taken down safely, having climbed 130 feet (39.6 meters) up, and 40 feet (12 meters) across.
Lesley Cusack is a 55 year old woman from Chesire, England, who engages in “sleep-eating”. While this sounds harmless enough, it can be extremely dangerous for many reasons. Lesley has had to change her daytime diet and join a fitness club, because when she eats at night, she can eat up to 2,500 calories. But the amount she eats is not the only danger. She also cooks while she sleeps, using a gas oven. This obviously poses a huge risk to everyone in the house if she leaves the gas running unlit. Finally, there is a risk to her health posed not by how much she eats, or how she cooks it, but by what she eats. Lesley will sometimes eat inedible items, such as vaseline, paint and washing powder. She put alarms on her doors in the hopes that they would wake her up, but to no avail. She is now going to see a specialist she hopes can cure her condition.
Sleepwalking is more common in children than in adults. About 17% of 4-8 year olds experience sleepwalking, compared to 4 to 10% of adults. Stuart Miller was 8 years old when he had an accident while sleepwalking. One night, in September of 1993, Stuart began sleepwalking. He lived in a flat on the fourth floor of council housing, and that night, he fell from his bedroom window. The courts decided that Reading Borough Council, the owner of that block, was responsible, as they had failed to install windows that were childproof. The fall dealt severe damage to Stuart’s spine, and has left him wheelchair bound for life. After 7 years in the courts, he was awarded £1.35m ($2m) in damages.
Robert Ledru was one of France’s finest detectives in the 19th Century. Although living in Paris, he was working on a case in Le Havre when he was contacted by his Parisian office and asked to take over a murder investigation there that the local police were having difficulty with. Another man from Paris, Andre Monet, had been shot and killed on a local beach. The only clues were the bullet, which was far too common to be of any use, and the footprints left by the killer. Ledru examined the footprints and came to a horrible realization. The killer was missing the big toe on his right foot. Ledru was also missing this toe, and had awoken that day to find that his socks were wet. Furthermore, the bullet was the same type he used. He discovered that he had murdered Monet while sleepwalking, believed to be brought on by his syphilis.
Understandably, the French police were reluctant to accept this theory when Ledru turned himself in, so they decided to experiment. They placed him in a cell for overnight observation. The first night, he did in fact sleepwalk. So they then decided to place a gun in the cell with him, and the next night, he shot at the guards in his sleep. Police decided that he could not be held responsible for his actions, but that he was still a threat, so he was exiled to a farm in the countryside, where he lived the last 50 years of his life with guards and nurses.