Dear Readers,

Wayob’s Revenge, LA FOG Part 2, comes out on Thursday and you can pre-order it now!

The detective and amateur magician, Saul Parker, awakens to find himself at strange place with no idea how he got there. So, he reasons that he must have been sleepwalking.

While researching this phenomenon, I was surprised to learn just how common it is. One study found that 8.4 million adults sleepwalk each year, and that’s just in the US. And they’re doing a lot more than just walking around. They’re cooking, eating, talking on the phone, driving, and having sex. Hence the phenomenon is often referred to as somnambulism. In some cases people even commit murder.

Yes, murder.

In 1987, Kennith Parks drove fourteen miles—while sleeping—to his in-laws’ house. Then without waking up, he climbed out of the car, went inside, and bludgeoned his father-in-law and stabbed his mother-in-law to death.

After awakening with blood on his hands, Parks went to the police station and confessed that he was afraid that he might have murdered someone, though he wasn’t exactly sure who or what he had done.

There was no precipitating incident. In fact, Parks had a good relationship with his in-laws. But after the police examined his bruises and the scene at his in-laws’, there was no doubt that he had killed his mother-in-law and nearly his father-in-law, as well, so they charged him with murder and assault. But did he actually commit a crime?

While sleepwalking, people are unable to process signals from the environment. The regions of the brain responsible for conscious thought show no activity. It’s equivalent to a coma. Hence they’re unable to make decisions about where to go or whether or not to harm to someone. They’re in such a deep stage of sleep that an attempt to wake them could result in violence.

Such cases present an interesting confluence of medical science, ethics and law. At his trial, five expert witnesses testified that Parks had no voluntary control over the attack. In fact, his free will was violated by his own body. According to the law, to be guilty of a crime requires both the action and the intent. Since Parks had no intent the jury acquitted him for both the murder and the assault, and the court of appeals unanimously upheld the acquittal.

Since sleepwalkers can’t be responsible for their actions, people with a history of somnambulism should be monitored while sleeping so they don’t harm themselves or others.

As for Saul Parker, you have to read Wayob’s Revenge to find out: is his theory is correct? Was he sleepwalking or worse?