…To Sleep, Perchance…
But Who Knows What Dreams May Come?
We’ve been parsing the original affidavit lately, hunting for things perhaps overlooked, trying to fit together the pieces of Robert Wone’s murder.
Among the more difficult pieces to explain is the reaction of Ward, Price and Zaborsky on the first arrival of the EMTs at 11:54pm. The first technician, an EMT of more than ten years, reportedly asked “what’s going on?” three times: first to Zaborsky on the front steps, second to Ward in the second floor hallway, and third to Price, sitting on the edge of the pull-out bed where Robert Wone’s body was found.
Curiously, Price was the first to respond. “I heard a scream,” he said, and nothing more. Zaborsky, wearing a bathrobe and talking on a cell phone, did not respond to the EMT. Ward, also in a bathrobe, was coming
“…from a small hallway area adjoining a bathroom. As Ward approached, W-1 confronted Ward and directly asked him, “what’s going on?” Ward looked at W-1, but did not reply. Instead Ward walked past W-1 and directly into his bedroom on the second floor.”
A strange scene. Now there’s no telling how any individual will respond to a crisis situation, but the affidavit paints an odd picture of three individuals strangely out of sync with the setting of a murder in their house. Most puzzling is Ward’s reaction: this editor can imagine responding many different ways to learning a friend had been killed in my house, but going back to bed is not one of them.
Some posters have speculated – emphasis here on speculation – that perhaps one or more of the three defendants had earlier taken an illegal drug of some sort. But the affidavit may offer another explanation: at least three legal drugs are mentioned: a “sleeping pill”, Lexapro and Wellbutrin.
In his statement (page 9), Ward recounts showing Robert upstairs, the bedroom, and the shower, “…and that’s when I went to bed. I went in my room, I was reading for like five minutes or so, and then I took my sleeping pill and went to bed.”
There are dozens of prescribed sleeping pills, but of course by far the most common is Ambien – or its generic zolpidem. Helpful for many, Ambien takes effect fairly rapidly, within on average 15 minutes or so, with full effects lasting up to three hours. Assuming the reported time line is accurate and Robert arrived at 10:30, some light talk in the kitchen, and then showing Mr. Wone to his room, Ward could have turned in to his room by 10:45-10:50. Five minutes later, a sleeping pill, and by 11:30, full effect.
While helpful for many, a small minority of people are adversely affected by Ambien, inducing a hypnotic trance state. These unfortunates can walk, talk, eat, drive, or do all manner of things – all while in a somnambulistic trance. Unlike traditional sleep-walking, they can perform seemingly complex tasks (baking, conversing, etc.) while appearing awake – but they are not. Worse, they have no (or extremely limited) memory of engaging in these behaviors. This potential induction of a chemically created trance-state might offer some explanation of Ward’s odd behavior.
Price also tells detectives that Ward is taking “Lexapro and Wellbutrin” for depression; adding “…everybody I know takes depression [medication].” Each medication is prescribed for major depressive disorder; Lexapro is an SSRI (similar in some ways to Prozac) while Wellbutrin is a dopamine re-uptake inhibitor (or DAPI) used for depression but also seasonal-affective disorder and smoking cessation.
Like Ambien, both medications are generally helpful, but some small few may experience euphoria and hallucinations on Wellbutrin and somnolence on Lexapro. In the right balance, in the right person, the combination of the two can offset each other – Wellbutrin lifting the fog that can come with an SSRI; Lexapro stabilizing the mood that can be thrown off by a DAPI. In the wrong balance, in the wrong person…well, the web is filled with people asking the same questions.
And there’s another risk. After much study (and controversy) the FDA concluded that people on anti-depressant medication are at slightly higher risk for an increase in suicidal thoughts or conduct. Slight, but serious: enough for the FDA to include a “black box” warning for both Lexapro and Wellbutrin, along with dozens of other medications. While children and adolescents are at particular risk, this warning applies to all. While “…everyone…” may be taking them (full disclosure, I am not) and while the editors apply no judgement whatsoever to those who do, no-one should forget these are serious and potent medications that can produce a variety of unexpected and unhelpful side effects.
Lex, Welly and A-Minus: potentially a powerful combination of psycho-active drugs, all in 1509.
-posted by Doug