Man who plunged knife over 20 times into housemate claimed he was 'sleepwalking'
| December 21st 2019
Sisters Brooke and Jordan Preston, and their friend Randy Herman, 24, had all gone to the same high school in quiet Wyalusing, Pennsylvania.
They might have grown up in a small town, but the three friends had big dreams and were excited to embark on their next adventure together.
When they graduated, they all headed to the same sun-drenched city.
As they rented a home in West Palm Beach, Florida, together, it felt like their lives had really started.
For six months, they were the best of friends.
Brooke, 21, studied at college and lived her life like she always did – full of spirit and constantly excited about what lay ahead.
And by early 2017, Brooke was ready for the next chapter.
She had started dating a guy back home in Pennsylvania and got a new job there so they could be together.
Brooke told her sister and Randy that she would be moving out in the March.
It was another exciting start for her.
After staying with friends in her final weeks in West Palm Beach, she went round to see Randy for a few goodbye drinks on a Friday night.
Jordan was away visiting her boyfriend at the time, so it was just the two of them.
Brooke was going to stay the night, but she ended up staying with a friend – she told her pal that Randy was acting ‘drunk and weird’ which had made her feel uncomfortable.
She also told the friend Randy had got so drunk he’d ended up naked in a wardrobe.
They’d always got on so well, so it was odd behaviour.
But the next morning, March 25, she still went back to pick up a memorial T-shirt from Randy that commemorated a mutual friend who had passed away.
‘I killed her’
At just after 9am, Randy called 911 from a park that was just under a mile from his rented home.
‘Someone’s been murdered,’ Randy told the operator.
When asked what he meant, he replied, ‘Just send the police it was me, I’m sorry.’
While waiting for the police to come and get him, Randy messaged his mum and said he loved her.
When officers arrived, they found Randy – he was covered in blood.
There was a cut on his hand and scratch marks on his chest.
He told them to go to his house as someone there was badly hurt.
It was a mystery that was starting to unravel.
When officers arrived at Randy’s home, they found blood on the walls and floors.
They also found a hunting style knife.
Under a blanket, they found the body of Brooke.
She had over 20 stab wounds to her abdomen, back and throat.
What had happened?
In custody, Randy said that Brooke had come over that morning as planned and he’d given her the T-shirt.
He said he’d hugged Brooke one last time, and they’d said goodbye, but then she’d left, and he’d gone back to bed.
But then he claimed his next memory was finding himself covered in blood – with Brooke fatally wounded on the floor.
Randy admitted that he was the only person in the house so he ‘must have done it’.
But he had an explanation for what had happened. Sleepwalking.
Randy said he’d been prone to sleepwalking all his life and he must have stabbed Brooke to death in his sleep as he didn’t remember doing it – and had no desire for her to be dead.
Over the years, there have been several high-profile cases where the accused have used sleepwalking to justify their actions.
In 2015, Joseph Mitchell was found not guilty of strangling his four-year-old son to death in North Carolina when he argued he was sleepwalking.
While in 1999, Arizona man Scott Falater was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his wife Yarmila, after he claimed he was sleepwalking when he stabbed her and then dragged her to the pool and held her head under water.
At the trial this year, the prosecution dismissed his claim that Randy was sleepwalking when he stabbed Brooke with a hunting knife.
The cut between his left thumb and forefinger were ‘consistent with his hand slipping on a wet knife and cutting himself’.
There was no doubt it was Randy who had plunged the knife into Brooke more than 20 times.
Randy took the stand and said he didn’t remember killing Brooke but he must have been the culprit as he was the only one there.
‘The next thing [I know], I’m standing over the top of her and I have the knife in my hand, covered in blood,’ he said.
‘I was confused.
'Didn’t know what to do.
'Didn’t know what happened.’
His lawyer said that Randy had no motive and no history of violence and therefore should be found not guilty by reason of insanity because he suffered from parasomnia – a disruptive sleep disorder that can result in sleepwalking.
‘There is no other rational explanation for this killing other than this could have been sleepwalking,’ his lawyer said.
Randy’s mum, Kathi Adams, testified that her son did sleepwalk as a child but Brooke’s grieving sister, who had been living with them both for six months, said she’d never seen him do it or heard him mention it.
One forensic psychiatrist said it wasn’t possible to sleep through stabbing someone repeatedly and suggested the motive could have been sexual.
There was no sexual history between them – but according to Brooke, he had got naked the night before her death.
Was there an unrequited attraction on Randy’s part?
Did he attack Brooke because she was leaving him?
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