Local/State

Did sleepwalking kill an Oaklyn, NJ woman?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sleepwalkers are known to cook, paint, and even drive without knowing it. But for a 55-year-old South Jersey woman, sleepwalking may have proved deadly.

Charlene Ferrero walked away from her home at the Hill Manor Apartments in Oaklyn, N.J. early Sunday morning. The next evening, crews pulled her body from Newton Lake in Collingswood.

The autopsy ruled it an accidental drowning but Ferrero's friends believe she may have been sleepwalking because she had done it about a week and a half earlier.

"I heard a knock on the door, and I go, 'What are you doing up, honey?' And she goes, 'I'm so sorry. The people at Table 2 ordered the eggs,'" said Ferrero's friend Teresa Cerini.

Ferrero, 55, was a waitress at the Starview Diner in Somerdale. After that sleepwalking episode Cerini, who lives next door, walked Ferrero home and made sure she was in bed. Ferrero never remembered any of it, according to Cerini.

"She goes, 'I used to do that when I was a kid,'" said Cerini. "I said, 'Guess what, honey? You still do.' I said, 'That's scary. That's dangerous.'"

At the Starview Diner Wednesday the owner lowered his flag to half staff just to honor Charlene Ferrero.

"She was a good person, very reliable. And I miss her a lot," said diner owner Stefanos Kitrinos.

Teresa Cerini agrees that her friend was a very good person with a zest for life. She says last Saturday afternoon the two had tea together. On Sunday morning Cerini says she noticed Ferrero's car awkwardly parked out front and that a neighbor found her cell phone on the grass.

Cerini believes Ferrero may have sleepwalked and fell into Newton Lake a couple blocks away. Still, she has lots of questions. So does Ferrero's coworker Ellie Bocelli.

"If she was going to sleepwalk and hit the water, she's going to wake up," Bocelli told Action News. "You're going to be out in your bare feet at 2 o'clock in the morning when it's freezing? I don't know, it just doesn't sit right with me at all."

The toxicology reports won't be ready for a couple of weeks. They might determine if Ferrero took a sleep aid or medicine that sometimes is associated with sleepwalking. Or, police say, they may never know for sure.

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