This morning, news broke online that Jeffrey "Gamblero" Vanchiro, (know to many as a Brooklyn Nets 'superfan' and from his graffiti name: Korn, of Smart Crew) passed away as a result from injuries sustained when he jumped out of a second floor window. The sudden manner in which he died has lead to a lot of confusion by many who either knew him directly or respected his art & style. How did he die? Why would he apparently kill himself?
The answer is as simple as it is disturbingly complex: He didn't willingly kill himself.
If you dig through psychological journals and old criminal cases files, you'll find dozens of cases of people who have done all manner of strange, seemingly impossible things in their sleep. Here's a few examples:
In 1925, Isom Bradley rose late at night in his Texas home, apparently due to a lucid dream that an intruder was present, and fired several shots; when he awoke, he found he’d shot his girlfriend. With a similar, medically-vague sleepwalking defense, Bradley was exonerated by the court, which set the following precedent:
“Somnambulist [sleepwalker] does not enjoy the free and rational exercise of his understandings and is more or less unconscious of his outward relations; none of his acts can rightfully be imputed to him as crimes.”
In 1943, a young girl in Kentucky killed her father and brother in a similar sleep-state set of murders.
This is far from the only example of someone committing murder in their sleep. There's actually a long list of such cases.
Just this past April, a 10 year old girl in Ohio took her dad's car out for a drive, successfully driving 2 blocks before crashing into several parked cars. She did this while asleep.
Generally speaking, society accepts that people sleep walk, sleep talk, and even stop breathing in their sleep (sleep apnea). There are dozens of sleep disorders. - but sleep suicide or sleep murder? These are rarefied cases for sure, but they happen. The simple truth is that, scientifically speaking, we know very little about what happens when we sleep, or even why we sleep.
The simple truth is that, scientifically speaking, we know very little about what happens when we sleep, or even why we sleep.
From the various accounts I've read around the internet, Jeffrey just plain wasn't feeling right after an incident 2 weeks back when he was ejected from MSG. His Fiancee elaborated for the NY Times:
"After that, he was a completely different person. He was paranoid. He was erratic. He was frightened. He was horrified. He was a bit delusional. He was having a lot of trouble sleeping. He couldn’t sleep at all. When he would sleep, or try to sleep, it would only take about 10 or 15 minutes before he would jump up screaming covered in sweat."
To state the obvious: That kind of sleep deprivation is not good. Most people can't function well on a single night of bad sleep. Imagine having days upon days of limited, terrifying sleep?
I can relate a very similar story I witnessed directly. In 1998 I was hanging out in Woodside with a girl when we heard someone yelling outside. I looked out the window to see a middle aged man cut up and bloodied, running down the street completely naked - yelling at cars that someone was trying to kill him. I dialed up 911, grabbed a bat and went to the door. This guy just kept on running like Forest Gump, but there was no one chasing him. I threw the bat back in the door and pointed the cops in the right direction as the street quickly filled with sirens. As it turns out, the middle aged guy jumped through (not out - directly through the glass) of his 3rd floor apartment window. When police entered his apartment, there were no signs that anyone had been inside other than himself. He was asleep until the point he fell over two blocks away, disoriented, cut up from the window glass and bruised - though surprisingly intact given what transpired. I'm not sure what happened after that, though he was taken to the hospital and held for a few days from what I heard.
I'm no doctor, but in retrospect it seems pretty clear to me that either the extreme stress or an undiagnosed neurological issue was preventing Jeffrey from sleeping normally. This lack of sleep, and the apparently terrifying nightmares he was suffering from, likely played a role in what happened.
I didn't personally know Jeffrey, though I've met a few people he ran with in his graffiti days. I respected the work he put into the graffiti game, thus I felt compelled to hopefully shed a little more light on the situation. While we'll probably never know 100% why this happened, I hope his legendary name and reputation are never tarnished by his death style. When he was an active writer, he was one of the hardest working guys in the graffiti game. By all accounts, he brought that same drive to the Nets. He'll be missed by many more than he ever knew.