Joseph Mitchell, the sleepwalking father who strangled his 4-year-old boy in the middle of the night at their home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, was found not guilty in a Durham courtroom, according to 11 Eyewitness News. The verdict was so shocking that the little boy’s mother had to be consoled by friends and transported to a local hospital after she was overcome by grief.
The 54-year old deadly dad cried after the verdict was read. In court, the defense stated that Joseph Anthony Mitchell did not know what he was doing when he strangled his son in 2010—citing that he was unconscious during an episode of sleep walking.
The prosecution asserted that Mitchell knew exactly what he was doing, and that his money problems were the reason that he wanted to kill his family.
According to court documents, in September 2010, Joseph Mitchell woke up from his sleep, and entered his children’s room wearing a Halloween mask. That’s when authorities say that he tried to kill his 13-year old and 10-year old children.
One of the children had passed out momentarily only to be awakened by the sound of her little brother’s screams in the other bedroom. By the time the siblings told their mother what was happening, 4-year old Blake Mitchell was already dead.
Police were dispatched to the beautiful and lavish home located at 17 Thistle Trace in the Hardscrabble Plantation subdivision, where they found Blake Mitchell lying unresponsive. The killer, the boy’s own father, was found in his home office with stab wounds or cuts to his body. He was immediately taken into custody and later charged with murder.
Community members say that the couple was living beyond their means, and that Joseph Mitchell hid things from his wife—including their financial situation. From the outside looking in, the Mitchell’s seemed to have it all, but inside their lives were totally different.
People who knew the family say that it is a very sad ending to what seemed like a nearly perfect life. Today, little Blake Mitchell’s mother, Christine Perolini, battles deep sadness over the loss of her precious son.
Joseph Mitchell is sad too, according to his attorney. He may be a free man, but Mitchell has lost everything. He has even expressed to his attorney that he wants to go back home to his wife and kids, according to The Daily Mail.
Joseph Mitchell’s case, though bizarre, is not unique. Over the years there have been various cases involving people who have murdered members of their family while sleepwalking. The case of Scott Falater is one of the most infamous cases involving homicidal sleepwalking. In that case, Falater brutally killed his wife and drowned her in the family pool in 1997. A jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.
There is also a movie—The Sleepwalker Killing, a true story based on an old unsolved mysteries case. It is also based on the book The Sleepwalker by June Callwood.
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