26: SERIAL KILLERS — The House on Fox Hollow Farm

Hey, everybody you're listening to Unpopular Culture - This episode is the first episode in our SERIAL KILLERS series: About Herb Baumeister and his Massive Burial Ground of a Home called Fox Hollow Farm. 


⚠️ warning: contents unpopular. The following audio contains graphic material. 




Police Audio????

  • In 2012, Rob and Vicky Graves sat down for an interview and stated the following events to be true: (music stars)
  • In Caramel, Indiana, a beautiful quiet suburb, Rob and Vicky are thrilled to have found the perfect home. One that matches everything they were looking for, it was huge, gorgeous and.... surprisingly cheap? They take the cheap price and feel blessed over their good fortune. Within weeks, the two are riddled with disturbing nightmares that compell them to physically run away from the house in their sleep. Quickly, they begin experiencing extreme paranormal situations, together and separately from one other. Sightings of a man in a red shirt standing in the woods watching them become part of their everyday existence. The pressure becomes too much to handle.
  • They go to the real-estate agent and demandanswers. They are stunned to learn that their Dream Home, formerly a symbol of decadence and luxury is in fact a mass grave and the site of horrific murders by one of the nation's most prolific serial killers: Herb Baumeister.


  • This is the Unpopular Culture Podcast. You are listening to Part 1 of our Serial Killers Series: "The House on Fox Hollow Farm"
  • Known as the I-70 Strangler for a series of murders in the midwest in 1980's, Herb Baumeister becomes known for turning his massive estate into an enormous gravesite. This horrific string of sexual strangulation murders has us wondering: what kind of person is capable of such a thing? In this episode, This is a look into the psychological profile of Herb Baumeister and details of his infamous murder spree.
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Music Starts Here

Investigation Synopsis:

Police Audio???

    1. On a seemingly ordinary night at an Indianapolis police station in 1993, a disheveled man stumbles through the door and gives the police answers they didn't know they needed. 
    2. Donovan Baxter said he was headed out for a normal Friday night at his favorite gay-bar. While sipping his drink, he was lost in a Missing Persons poster with his old friend's face on it that hangs behind the bar. His friend, Roger Goodlet, had been missing for weeks, and Donovan had lost faith that the local police department could find him.
    3. An attractive guy was suddenly standing next to him, and whispered that he once knew Roger too. He introduced himself as "Brian Smart."
    4. Donovan was smitten, and the two hit it off. The next thing he knew, he was invited stay at Brian's house. 
    5. The drive out there was more rural than Donovan expected. He couldn't see much and felt a little nervous, still thinking of his missing friend, not to mention the recent string of abductions in the area. And Donovan matched the visual profile of the victims.
    6. On the way into the massive home, Donovan could see a sign over the split-rail fence, and could only read the words Fox and Farm.
    7. Once inside, Brian was charming and over some drinks, the two got comfortable.
    8. They fooled around in his large, luxurious indoor pool. Brian asked "Have you ever tried bondage or autoerotic asphysxiation?" to which Donovan replied no. Brian asked, "Can we try it?" and Donovan sheepishly replied with a yes.
    9. Brian Smart pulled out a garden hose and started chocking Donovan. At first, Donovan was turned on by this, but something went wrong very fast.
    10. Donovan tells the Indianapolis police that in that moment, he saw something in "Brian Smart"s eyes, and realized he wasn't going to stop choking him.
    11. Donovan panicked and pretended to pass out. He knew Herb was trying to call him, but knew the only way out was to play it cool, like a playful accident gone to far. So, he played along when Herb apologized for almost killing him.
    12.  Donovan politely asked to be taken home. 
    13. There was no longer a doubt in Donovan's mind that this "Brian Smart" had killed his friend previously, and had surely just tried to kill him. Once he was home, he ran to the police station.
    14. And so the search began for Brian Smart.





  • More often than not, these serial killers are hidden in plain sight. They have a job, they have a wife, a family, neighbors, friends, people that know them and speak well of them. So often nobody suspects a thing until it's too late. A trail of bodies, a police investigation, interviewed witnesses and neighbors are dumbfounded that this person they thought they knew could do the things they did. Some monsters are created through repeated trauma, excessive violence and neglect. Herb Baumeister, by all evidence was born this way. 
  • From early on in his childhood, Herb exhibited bizarre behavior.
  • In elementary school, he told his classmates he wanted to taste human urine, and picked up dead crows off the side of the road that he would later plant in his teacher's desk drawer. 
  • Herb's father identified something wasn't right with him and ordered extensive medical exams for his son, and the results came back that he was "schizophrenic, or having a two-or-more-sided personality base."
  • Based on what I've read on Herb Baumesiter, I don't see any evidence of schizophrenia or multiple personalities. And these are, in fact two very different things. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder involving hallucinations, delusions, paranoia or catatonia, caused by psychological trauma, and also genetics, traumatic brain injuries or drug use. So, someone who is schizophrenic can see bugs crawling on their skin that aren't there or often hear voices telling them to harm themselves. In the movie K-Pax (2001), there is an man in the mental hospital who thinks everyone stinks, and tells them so. This is an olfactory hallucination, meaning smelling things that aren't there. So when we talk about Schizophrenia, this is the kind of stuff you look for. Multiple Personality Disorder is a literal split in the psyche where someone takes on multiple alters, and is almost always caused by intensive trauma or neglect in childhood. So, these are people who have the ability to shift between plains of consciousness. In an off-season podcast we released this past January, Dr. Kirk Honda and I reviewed the movie Split (2017), whose lead character, Kevin, deals with 23 different personalities (You can check that out at upcpodcast.com) So, these are the kinds of things that people with Multiple Personalites deal with. So, Clearly, neither of these things fit Herb Bauemeister. The ediology, or the causes of what makes a person Schizophrenic or have Split Personalities, are absent. Not to mention, the symtoms aren't there. He wasn't hallucinating or acting like different people... and his dad seemed supportive and caring so there was no neglect or abuse.
  • So, if he's not Schizophrenic, and he doesn't have Split Personalities, I'd say his personality traits are consistent with something called anti-social personality disorder. 
  • This is defined in the DSM5 as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others. Obviously, not all people with anti-social personality disorder are serial killers, it's a spectrum. But Herb exemplifies many of these qualities. 
  • Though I could never formally diagnose somebody without having met them personally, we can look at the criteria in the DSM5 and see that what we know about Herb is consistent with Anti Social Personality Disorder. 
      1. Reckless Disregard for the safety of others **Michael laughs here** isn't this obvious since hes a serial killer (Coworkers from a newspaper job he had recalled a time that they attempted to include him, inviting him to a football game and Herb offered to drive. The day came and he literally showed up in a hearse. They reluctantly obliged, but were shocked and horrified when he flashed the lights the whole way there, as cars moved over, and laughed maniacally.) 
      2. Deceitfulness as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure (As we learned from Donovan's story, Baumeister uses the alias "Brian Smart" to lure gay men back to his home and murder them for his own sexual pleasure)
      3. Failure to conform to social norms, with respect to, lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest. (We see this consistently from Baumeister, even in his early childhood- putting the dead bird in his teacher's desk and as we'll see coming up, a history of trouble with peers at work. This constant prankster behavior feels milicious and is indicative of what is to come from Baumeister later in his life.)
  • He was alone in high school and even in college, consistently known to his peers as an outcast. Here's where Baumeister contrasts with a lot of other popular serial killers. Take somebody like Ted Bundy or Charlie Manson. People find them very charming and ingratiating, but Baumeister was obviously not that. He had a prankster, bizarre humor mentality.
  • His father helped him get several jobs, the first of which being an advertising executive for the newspaper. He was known, yet again, as an outsider by his peers, but his superiors remember him to be "eager" and thought he tried too hard.
  • He got another job through his father, at the BMV. Again, his superiors noticed a "go-get-em attitude mixed with a high degree of intelligence" Although to the people that truly knew his daily reality, they described his behavior as bizarre. So we know he's smart and ambitious, which are characteristics of the more popular serial killers. But, he doesn't seem to have the third characteristic that these people have: manipulation. In order to be manipulative, your peers have to like you. His behavior was constantly perceived as awkward and bizarre. And it was.
  • He urinated on his boss desk about a year after being at the BMV and although his coworkers were sure of the culprit, they couldn't prove it. He would inevitably be fired later on, because he urinated on a letter addressed to the Governor of Indiana.
  • During the BMV job, he did manage to meet his wife, Juliana. But after he was let go from the BMV, they were able to open a Sav-A-Lot in conjunction with a local Children's Charity, in 1988. Within a couple years, they opened another. Herb's intelligence and ambitious pays off and he thrives as an independent business man.
  • Because they were so successful, in 1991, they moved to huge mansion, called Fox Hollow Farm on eighteen-and-a-half acres, 20 miles outside of the city, hoping to live a typical American Dream with their three kids. 
  • However, their happily ever after was cut short, and their marriage started to show signs of strain within a couple years. The house reflected this disarray in their lives. The land became overgrown and the house full of unkempt clutter and trash. The few friends they had described their relationship as dangerously lopsided, saying that Juliana seemed unable to be herself, and that Herb was too overpowering. Juliana was documented in therapy sessions later in their marriage as having only had sex with Herb 6 times in their 25 years of marriage and that she had never seen him naked. Imagine what it would be like to married to a monster for 25 years and have no idea. The dynamic of their marriage shows Herb's need to aggressively control others, and the fact that they've barely had sex, shows that he's not aroused by conventional things. 
  • What would it take to shake this woman out of her complacency, of how blind she is to the world she's actually living in? What would it take to convince you that the person you're with is a murderer?
  • For Juliana, that day comes in 1994 when her ten-year-old son hands her a human skull that he found in the backyard and asks "Mom, what's this?"

Music Starts Here

    1. It's been a couple years, and police are still looking for "Brian Smart" who we now know as Herb Baumeister. 
    2. Up until this point he has successfully gotten away with murder after murder, and this is how he gets caught.
    3. Pause
    4. Donovan Baxter, the man who escaped being murderered at Fox Hollow Farm by pretending to pass out was out in the world on an ordinary day in 1994, and spotted "Brian Smart" again, sitting in his car at a stop sign. Donovan was able to write down his license plate number.
    5. The police immediately investigate and find that "Brian Smart" is an alias for the true serial killer: Herb Baumeister. When they come to the door, Baumeister is uncooperative, and without more evidence police are yet again unable to investigate further.
    6. BUT, as Baumeister is now aware that he has been found out, he unravels. Within the six months after police visit his door, his business, marraige and mental health crumble. 
    7. After his son finds a skull in the backyard and brings it to his horrified mother, She cracks. Abashed by the man she's been living with, she calls the police one day while Herb is on vacation, allowing them to search the property, and any hope he ever had of being free was suddenly shot. She divorces him and his downfall begins.
      • This infamous investigation in 1996 would become the focal point of the 1-70 Strangler Case. 5,500 bones and teeth were uncovered at the residence of Herb Baumeister. The corpses barely identifiable, but the few of them that were confirmed the story of Donovan Baxter identifying "Brian Smart" in a bar and ultimately leading to his arrest. 
      • Upon even further investigation and his name and face surfacing to the public, Baumeister was tied to the 1-70 murders in Ohio, less than a decade before. 
      • While all of this is happening, Baumeister hears word of the investigation and panicks, and flees to Canada. In a suicide note, he writes that he feels sorry for his failed business and failed marraige, but never mentions any of the murders. Sitting on a lake shore in Ontario, he shoots himself in the head. 
      • The scene of Baumeister's death is described as: "A sand mound like an altar for himself, he laid on it with his arms stretched out, and he had placed dead birds around in a ritualistic fashion."
  1. So, we've found that Baumeister's personality traits are consistent with psychopathic behavior, and we know now that he was not only responsible for the gay men who went missing in the 1980's, but also the 1-70 murders a decade before. 
    1. Often times, Serial killers will commit their murders far away from home, then as their confidence grows, they get closer to home. This can help establish a pattern of behavior. Baumeister started strangling people on the I-70 in Ohio and eventually got more confident and comfortable and close to home in Indiana, which ultimately led to his downfall as he collected bodies at his own home. Has anyone ever seen the show Dexter? The main character of the show is a serial killer who is always meticulous, taking great care to avoid such pitfalls. This requires a mind that is thinking 10 steps ahead and considering every contingency.
    • Serial killers will often target a population they feel is weaker than them. Her Baumeister targeted intoxicated and disarmed gay men at a bar. 
    • Targeting gay men of similar look, size, etc. suggests Baumeister has a specific person in his past that is the source of all of this. Although, we'll probably never know. It could also indicate he is either worried or frustrated about being gay himself or with others thinking he's homosexual. By strangling gay men, it's possible that he's able to purge himself of this bottled-up sexual impulse. 
    • This kind of murder as known as a lust-murder. Psychologists coin this term "Erotophonophilia." Erotophonphiles get sexual pleasure from killing or thinking about killing their partners. These fantasies are extremely violent, often involving mutilating, torturing and murdering their victims during sex. What's unique about them is that they are continually dissatisfied, and this is why serial killers are the kind of people that are most likely to be erotophonophiles. 
    • "One of the most cited studies in the area of lust murder is a 1990 paper by Dr. P.E. Dietz and colleagues published in the Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. They examined 30 sexual sadists (most of which were sexual murderers). They found that the majority were employed white males (75%), and many were married (50%), had a history of homosexual experience (43%)," All of these are the case with Herb Baumeister.
  2. You don't always know people the way you think you do. In the case of Juliuana Baumeister, she lived on top of a mass gravesite for more than a decade and slept next to a serial killer and never knew. Donovan, didn't know the attractive guy who charmed him at the bar was the man who had strangled his friend.
  3. As disparaging as all of this might be, don't let it keep you from making new friends. Just have a healthy skepticism! 
  4. As the old Russian proverb goes "Trust, but verify."



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Erotophonophilia And the psychology of sexual homicide




This Breathtaking Estate Witnessed Brutal Murders And Became A Massive Burial Ground












This is the VERY real story of a man who literally lost the ability to sleep and then died from it. When I tell it to people like that, their jaws are on the floor immediately. The amazing part is this Fatal insomnia is an extremely rare disease that has cursed a single family line for centuries. Well talk about what happens to your brain when you sleep, why our bodies even need sleep, and dive into the hellish existence of the eternal insomniac. 

Here's where it gets creepy, although this one family is cursed with a genetic form of this disease, there's also a version that spontaneously appears in people out of nowhere and could effect any of us. 



The Story of Silvano

Silvano moves through the dance floor with grace and style. He easily catches the attention of those around him. He is handsome, and immaculately dressed. He prides himself of his success in life and, in many ways, he is in the prime of his life. He's 53 years old. He travels on a luxury cruise ship, surrounded by friends, without a care in the world. While dancing, he looks down to discover he is drenched in sweat, as if someone had poured a bucket of water over his head...He doesn't feel right. He rushes to the nearest bathroom. He examines his shirt. As he is drying off his shirt with a towel, he happens to catch a glance up at himself in the mirror. That's when he notices the pupils of his eyes have shrunk into the size of 2 black pins. Thats when he realizes he knows he has the same look in his eyes that his father and sisters had before everything went to hell. 

Silvano sees his doctor as soon as he gets home. The doctor notices the dread on Silvano's face and attempts to put him at ease. "No need to worry!" The Doctor says cheerfully. "I haven't even taken a look at you yet! I'm sure everything is fine!"

"No" Silvano says as he stares at nothing "You don't understand. Within 8 or 9 months, I'll be dead".

In a small office Silvano and his doctor stand in close proximity. Silvano sits perched on the edge of an examination bed with a look of mindless and hopeless terror on his face. He has just told his doctor that he believes he will be dead in 9 months. "How could you possible know that?" the doctor asks skeptically. Silvano locates a piece of paper and begins drawing a diagram of his family tree going back to the 18th century. All the way back to a Venetian doctor who fell into a continuous, paralyzed stupor over 200 years ago. Soon after, a nephew named Giuseppe succumbed to a similar fate, and from there, the illness passed through his sons Angelo and Vincenzo to their children and great grandchildren, until it reached Silvano’s father Pietro, who died during World War Two. And finally Silvano. "It's my family's curse" Silvano explains. "My father had it. My sisters had it. And now their all dead. And I'm next." For centuries Silvano's family line kept their "family curse" a guarded secret. And largely thanks to Silvano, this curse has a name: Familial Fatal Insomnia.

As Silvano predicted, he wouldn't live long.  

Knowing his fate is sealed, Silvano offers himself up to science, and volunteers to spend the remainder of his days being observed and studied. His final wish, to help science find a cure for those that can still be saved. 

Silvano is watched for several 24 hour periods with great scrutiny under camera surveillance. As he deteriorates, the cameras capture his descent into the madness of a paranoid and sleepless hell, living in a kind of purgatory, neither asleep nor awake. Caregivers walk Silvano back and forth around the room, as he shuffles mindlessly, led by the arm, eyes dead and exhausted. In all that time, Silvano never slept, but incredibly, he did appear to dream. One day, researchers were astonished to see Silvano laying in bed,  performing simple gestures like combing his hair or buttoning his shirt, while in this dreamlike state. A researcher once saw Silvano give a salute gesture out of nowhere and apparently to nobody. When the researcher asked "What was that Silvano?"  Silvano replied, "I was dreaming that I was a god at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth."

Medical Efforts could do nothing to save Silvano, extensive testing eventually found the transgressors known as Prions. Doctors are baffled to find that, For some reason it is only when a person hits middle age that the prions begin to ferociously infest the brain. These prions sit deep in the middle of the brain, Poisoning and damaging you from the inside.

In part due to Silvano's sacrifice, the scientists can now explain why damage to this small walnut of neural tissue unleashes such a perplexing mine field of symptoms. For example, the Thalamus, manages all our “autonomic” responses to the environment – things like temperature control, blood pressure, heart rate, and the release of hormones. When the Thalamus is bored open like swiss cheese, your body is thrown into chaos, which is why Silvano and all other victims early symptoms were profuse sweating and shrunken pupils and impotence.

The closest they get to normal sleep is a kind of mindless zombie mode – not quite asleep, but not quite aware, which is why they mindlessly play out ordinary activities like combing your hair, even while in a dream like state.




The Brain and Sleep

There's a lot we know about the brain and we're learning more all the time.

We know the Average human spends about 1/3 of their lives asleep.

We know that sleep is as important to us as food or oxygen.
The average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep

Even though it only weighs 3 pounds, We KNOW The human brain uses about 25% of the energy our body requires every day.

 What we don't know is WHY we need sleep. If I were to ask you to take your best guess as to why we need sleep, what would say? Gun to your head, what's your best guess? You might say that we sleep so that we can rest right? That's a logical guess. But the neurons of the human brain are just as active when you're asleep as when you're awake.

Modern science now knows that when we dream, our brain acts out what we're doing in that dream as if we were doing it in real life. So when Silvano was dreaming he was saluting the queen of England, this is why he was acting out that salute in the real world. We have a kind of switch in our brain that disconnects our brain from our body, to prevent us from acting out our dreams. This switch doesn't always work, which is why sleepwalking is a thing.



Things your brain does when it sleeps:

  1. Makes decisions.
  2.  The researchers asked participants to categorize spoken words that were separated into different categories — words referring to animals or objects; and real words vs. fake words — and asked to indicate the category of the word they heard by pressing right or left buttons. When the task become automatic, the subjects were asked to continue but also told that they could fall asleep (they were lying in a dark room). When the subjects were asleep, the researchers began introducing new words from the same categories. Brain monitoring devices showed that even when the subjects were sleeping, their brains continued to prepare the motor function to create right and left responses based on the meaning of the words they heard.
  3. Organizes memories
  4. Some people think of sleeping doing to your brain what defragging does to a computer, organizing the events of your day, filing the important things into your long term memory and discarding the useless stuff, keeping the basic highlights of your day and boiling it down to the basic gist. Think about it, do you remember every moment to moment of what you did yesterday? But you can recall the basic events.
  5. Learn how to remember and perform physical tasks

What happens during REM sleep is that the brain transfers short-term memories stored in the motor cortex to the temporal lobe, where they become long-term memories.

• One of my favorite experiments involves a snowboarding video game. Participants would get 1 practice attempt to get the best score possible when playing a snow boarding experiment. The participants are split into 2 groups: Group 1 got to try again later that day, while Group 2 got to sleep and try again in the morning. The results: Group 2's game performance had improved over group 1.

• Sleep also: Clears out toxins, repairs and grows muscle and tissue, and makes creative connections. How many of us have had a moment of inspiration while dreaming?

• I say all of these benefits of sleep to highlight the importance sleep for you and the devastation a lack of sleep can play on you. 



Now remember, there are 2 kinds of Fatal insomnia, there's the genetic version that mostly has ravaged this 1 particular family line, and then there's the kind of fatal insomnia that anyone of us can spontaneously acquire. Let's start with the kind that effected Silvano, Fatal Familial Insomnia

  1. Fatal familial insomnia (FFI). (I'm gonna call this "FFI" for the rest of the show because I suck at saying words. So stay with me. Once again, Fatal Familial Insomnia = FFI. FFI It is almost always caused by a mutation of the Thalamus. (A part of your brain that I'll get into in a sec)
  2. FFI is EXTREMELY RARE, thought to have affected just 100 people on the planet. If 1 parent has the FFI gene, then each child has a 50% chance of inheriting it. And if right now you're signing up for Ancestry.com to see if your in this family, also know that FFI has a non genetic strain as well- a strain that will spontaneously appear in any of us- out of nowhere!
  3. This is called Sporadic fatal insomnia (sFI). And you, me, or any of us could obtain this affliction.
  4. Both are considered a prion disease. A prion disease is a mutated protein, sort of like how mutated skins cells replicate to become a tumor or a mole. These mutated proteins act like nasty little worms that burrow deep into your brain, leaving it looking like Swiss cheese.


What Happens to Your Body in the first week with this disease:

A 2010 Study from the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health

After 24 hours.... The consequences of sleep deprivation are comparable to the cognitive impairment of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent, according to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. “Judgment is affected, memory is impaired, there is deterioration in decision making, and a decline in hand-eye coordination,” Cralle says. “You're more emotional, attention is decreased, hearing is impaired, and there is an increase in your risk of death from a fatal accident.”

After 36 Hours... Now your health begins to be at risk. High levels of inflammatory markers are in the bloodstream, said Cralle, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, hormones are affected — your emotions can be all over the place. You can go through entire events and not remember where you just were or what you just did.

After 48 hours... Cralle says, the body begins compensating by shutting down for microsleeps, episodes that last from half a second to half a minute and are usually followed by a period of disorientation. “The person experiencing a microsleep falls asleep regardless of the activity they are engaged in,” she says. This could include driving, walking across the streeet, anything, You will involuntarily pass out for a brief terrifying moment. Microsleeps are similar to blackouts, and a person experiencing them is not consciously aware of what's occurring.

At 72 Hours... Expect significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception, and other higher mental processes after many sleepless hours, Cralle says. “Even simple conversations can be a chore. The mind begins seeing objects that don't really exist..objects that aren't really there" He even bought a sensory deprivation tank, An egg-shaped chamber filled with warm salt water, which would make him buoyant, and making him feelings as if he were floating through space. This method would sometimes provide him with a euphoric 4.5 hours of sleep




The Story of Elliott (Anonymous)

One remarkable patient, however, has hinted that there may be some unusual ways to alleviate the misery... I'm going to tell you a story about a real man, who chooses to remain anonymous, but for the purposes of this podcast, we'll call Elliott.

His case was described in The Medical Journal Mescape General Medicine. His story is awesome because he valiantly tried to beat the disease, discovering ways to induce sleep for short amounts of time.

When Elliot was a kid, he remembered his mom talking about some illness in his father’s family, but had decided not to worry her son with the details. Now in his 50's, Elliot had started to experience extreme bouts of insomnia. Genetic testing revealed that he had what his father, paternal uncle, and 2 male cousins died of.... Fatal Insomnia.

Alarmed that he is rapidly deteriorating, Elliot decides he will not give up without a fight. His response to this diagnosis is to buy a motorhome and travel across the US - he wasn’t just going to sit there and die. Elliot sets out on the adventure of his life, open road and open possibility. As he drives he considers his battle strategy to fight his impending demise.

Elliot has been on the road for 5 months and his symptoms are becoming more extreme. He often finds himself too sick an incapacitated to drive himself, so Elliot employs a driver to take over the steering wheel and a nurse to look after him when he gets too sick. He continues to drive, but only after he manages to get enough sleep. Elliot is determined to try as many potential treatments as possible,he tries everything he can think of, from vitamin supplements and exercise to anesthetics such as ketamine and nitrous oxide, and any sleep medicine he can find- He even tried electroconvulsive therapy to see if the sharp electric shock could knock him out. Some of these treatments offer him as long as 15 precious moments of uninterrupted sleep.He is thin and weak.. his mind is ripe with hallucinations and delusions. He lays in the back of the RV while it rocks back and forth against the road. His temperature spikes around 102 degrees and he has cardiac arrhythmia. His nurse checks his blood pressure, as his driver carries him onward.

15 months into his diagnosis and vitamins are no longer helping. After another insomnia bout of 5 consecutive days awake. Elliot is irritable and delusional. An evaluation at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, found that he had suffered a minor stroke; he was anesthetized until he fell asleep. While hospitalized, he slept for 3 consecutive days and was fully alert and refreshed afterward. He feels ok enough to continue his roadtrip. Elliot has already survived longer than anyone with FFI ever has.

Despite these (relative) successes, Elliot experienced regular relapses that became more intense and the disease progressed. His friend said “When the symptoms reared themselves, he couldn’t do anything, There were times when he lost the whole day – it takes over your consciousness. He could sit there without the initiative to move; he’d be frozen in time.”. After a few years of this struggle, like those before him, he too finally passed away.




Over the centuries victims of FFI have not had the ability to know if they had the disease until it was too late. And even though there is still no cure, thanks to modern medicine, some family members now have the horrifying choice of being genetically tested to see if they have it. With a 50 percent chance of finding out if you were going to die of insanity and lack of sleep. With chances no better than a coin toss. How long have you stayed up on your own before? Have you even come close to truly feeling what this is actually like?

If you've been listening, you'll know this is dangerous. Maureen Weston holds the Guinness world record for longest amount of time with no sleep (intentionally) with 449 hours (18 days, 17 hours), followed by Randy Garner at 264 hours (11 days).

As far as FFI is concerned, Some family members have chosen to find out, while others have refused, worried it would taint what time they did have left. Which would you choose?